December means oranges for our family.
Part of living in a zone 4 means we can’t grow so many of the fruits we love. Oranges are one of those fruits. Every December, oranges go on sale for around $0.50/lb. Our family always gets at least a hundred pounds (sometimes 200).
Some we freeze, most we bottle, as many as we are able to get eaten fresh, and the rest get dried and stored two different ways.
There are a few different ways to dehydrate your oranges, and everyone has their own preferences. I’ll show you how I do them and then how I store and use them once I’m done.
Start by washing the skins of your oranges. Don’t neglect this step thinking you are going to just peel them anyway. Remember that any bag buggies on the skin can be drug down to the juicy part as the knife passes from the outside to the inside of the orange repeatedly with each slice.
Once washed, start slicing your oranges. I slice them between 1/4-1/3 inch thick.
Most people I know leave the peels on to dry them. I’ve tried that before. No one in my family likes them this way, so now we peel them. (Keep your peels in a separate bowl to make orange peel candies once you’re done.)
While it would be easier to peel the orange first, I have found that by doing this, it becomes very hard to slice the orange evenly without the skin.
Lay your slices in your dehydrator and turn on to the vegetable setting. (This is 135 degrees on my dehydrator .) Let run until just crispy and there is no signs of moisture. Now they are ready for dry canning.
You can dry can these just like they are for a treat later, or you can let them become completely crispy and make them into flakes. All the ugly oranges, or those that separated as they dried, get left in the dehydrator just a little bit longer.
Once they are crispy, I put them into a small food processor and turn it on for a bit until my oranges turn to flakes. At this point, they also get dry canned (in the smallest jars I have available) for future use.
Slices make the perfect snack either plain or broken up in a trail mix or even granola.
The flakes are used to flavor various baking indulgences I’ll make for the rest of the year.
Either way, dehydrating oranges is a great way to preserve them to enjoy all year long.