Have you ever wondered how to dehydrate citrus slices? Well, I hadn’t either until I was recently given bags of oranges by a generous neighbour and needed to put them to good use. The other determining factor was that I seem to have acquired a voracious Gin and Tonic habit and dehydrated citrus slices are the beverage garnish of choice this year. Most places we’ve visited of late have a few jars of these zesty jewels behind the bar and they’re so easy to make, they can be a regular part of your garnish arsenal too. Of course, there are loads of other things you can do with dehydrated citrus slices that arent Gin related, and I’ll cover a few of those later in this post.
Why Dehydrate Citrus?
Dehydrated citrus has so many uses and is a great way to preserve all of that seasonal, citrusy goodness.
When citrus is dried in thin slices they retain an intense flavour and can be easily rehydrated in liquid.
Using the whole fruit is a great way to reduce kitchen waste.
When Should I Dehydrate Citrus?
You can dehydrate citrus all-year-round, however, citrus is in season in winter and there’s nothing like the smell of warm, tangy citrus to give your house a burst of sunshine on a grey day.
This winter I have dehydrated sliced Orange, Blood Orange, Lemon, Lime, Grapefruit and whole Mandarin segments.
How to Dehydrate Citrus
Citrus can be dehydrated in a Food Dehydrator or in an oven and I’ll cover both methods here. I use a 1980’s Fowlers Vacola Dehydrator that I have borrowed from a friend (who inherited it from her 93-year-old grandmother).
Prepare your fruit
Choose firm, ripe fruit.
Wash and dry the fruit.
Slice your fruit into thin, even slices. If you have a mandoline slicer you could use that to achieve consistent slice width.
Remove and discard any seeds.
If you are using a Dehydrator
I set the dehydrator at 68 degrees Celcius (155 degrees Fahrenheit).
Place slices in single layers onto your dehydrator’s racks.
Process for approx 12-16 hours – this depends on the size and how juicy your fruit is.
If you are using an Oven
Place the citrus slices in a single layer on a silicon or paper-lined baking sheet.
Bake until dry at your oven’s lowest temperature (for my oven it’s 50ºC). Depending on fruit size and juiciness, this could be 3-4 hours.
To facilitate even dehydrating, rotate your baking trays every hour.
Processing on low heat helps to preserve the natural oils in the rind and that adds to the final flavour.
The slices are done when they are no longer tacky and feel dry and almost brittle to touch.
Lemons and Limes can appear brown after dehydrating, but don’t worry, they’re not burnt and will still taste great.
How to Store Dehydrated Citrus
Once fully dehydrated, you can store your citrus slices in the pantry, fridge or freezer.
Allow your dehydrated slices to cool to room temperature.
Always use an airtight container (or a zip-lock bag).
I use Fowler’s and Ball preserving jars as they look great and cut down on single-use plastics.
If you’re keeping your citrus slices in the cupboard/pantry, they will last a couple of months.
Last year I stored the dehydrated slices in the fridge and they lasted 12 months. I haven’t as yet kept any in the freezer (seems I use them up too quickly!) but I am sure they would last for 12 months at least.
Uses for Dehydrated Citrus Slices
There are so many uses for dehydrated citrus slices:
- Add to cold drinks – water, lemonade, and mineral water.
- Add to hot drinks – tea, chai and a hot toddy are all delicious with citrus.
- Use as a cocktail garnish.
- Blitz/blend and make into citrus powder that can be used in baking, or to flavour soups, casseroles and braises.
- Use as a cake decoration.
- Orange slices are delicious just as they are. Pop some into the kids’ lunchboxes for a healthy snack.
- Dip dehydrated orange slices into dark chocolate for a delicious sweet treat.
- Remove the rind and cut up the slices, add to granola and sprinkle on vanilla yoghurt.
- Add slices to braises or tagines.
- Seasonal decorations – garland and Christmas Tree decorations.
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