How to Make Dried Citrus Slices for Garlands and Ornaments

dried citrus ornament

This winter, let just a little more sunshine into your home with dried citrus slices turned into ornaments and garlands.

I’m happy to admit that I decorate the absolute snot out of my house for Christmas. It is not tasteful at ALL, and I LOVE it.

What I love even more, though, are the decorations that I don’t have to make myself take down on January 2. The tinsel and the twinkle lights and the tree and the four hundred nutcrackers and the paper stars all have to go, even though it makes me 100% sad to put them away.

It’s a good thing, then, that I have convinced myself that my decorations that are “winter” themed, rather than purely for Christmas, get to stay up through February! The paper snowflakes get to stay. The gnomes get to stay. And all the citrus and cinnamon dough garlands get to stay, smelling sweet and looking lovely, until I finally take them down to make room for all the spring gardening stuff I’m starting to drag out.

These dried citrus slices are easy to make during a cozy half-day at home, and easy to string to make ornaments, garlands, and other holiday decorations. Here’s how!

dried citrus slices tutorial

To make dried citrus slices, you will need:

  • citrus fruits. I’ve successfully dried naval oranges and grapefruits (in this tutorial, I’m drying grapefruit!). Any citrus fruit in which the peel clings to the fruit should work, but I doubt that a fruit like easy-peeling clementines would.
  • sharp knife or mandolin. The thinner the better for these dried citrus slices! I hand-cut my grapefruit slices and caused myself some extra annoyance since they were so thick that they took ages to dry, but dry they did, so don’t worry if your knife skills are as ham-handed as mine are.
  • oven set to 200 degrees or dehydrator. The dehydrator takes longer and is noisier, but it uses less energy and leaves your oven free.

Step 1: Slice your citrus fruit more evenly than I did!

dried citrus slices

Although apparently, you can just hack away at them like I did and that works okay, too!

Set aside the ends that are mostly peel, ideally tossing them into your garden to do a little natural composting before spring.

If I’m too lazy to even take my end bits out into the garden (sometimes it’s dark out there! Or, even worse, precipitating!!!), I like to put them down the garbage disposal for a little natural deodorizing.

Step 2: Dry or dehydrate.

citrus slice garland

Either put your slices on sheet pans into a 200-degree oven or arrange them, as pictured above, in your 15-year-old Nesco dehydrator. I used to use this dehydrator allllll the time when my kids were little, making them dehydrated fruit slices and fruit leather and flaxseed crackers and such, but these days I only pull it out to dry herbs and make decorations like these. If you have anything that YOU love to do with your dehydrator, please let me know in the Comments!

Your citrus slices will take 2-3 hours to dry out in the oven. In the dehydrator, they’ll take more like 8-10 hours, but again, your oven will be free to bake cookies! Make your own choice depending on your own priorities, but as for me, *I* like cookies!

dried citrus slices

After a couple of hours in the oven or six hours in the dehydrator, check on the citrus slices, and remove any that look completely dried. I had to keep doing this, because, again, I cut my grapefruit slices as unevenly as it is possible to cut them. You, with your better knife skills, will only need to keep an eye out for the end pieces with the smaller diameters, as those will likely be dried before the middle pieces.

Step 3: Decorate!

dried citrus slices

This is the fun part!

My teenager and I made both ornaments and garlands with these dried citrus slices. To make the garlands, we interspersed the grapefruit slices with cinnamon dough cutouts (stay tuned for that recipe next week!), but to make the ornaments, we used just a blunt tapestry needle and some embroidery floss. Thread the needle, then pull it through the slice near the top. Pull it back through the same spot, then take the needle off the floss. Tie the two ends of floss together to make a loop, then put one end of the loop through the other to make a nice ornament hanger.

dried citrus slices

These dried citrus slices look lovely on a Christmas tree or in a garland across your window, sure, but don’t sleep on all the other pretty ways to use them. Hang them outside, display them in a bowl on the coffee table, wire them into a wreath, tie them into a gift topper, or do any one of a hundred more cute things.

Also feel free to experiment with other types of citrus. I like orange for my own winter decorating, but there’s no rule saying that you can’t jazz up your decor with the yellow and green of lemons and limes, or the dark red of blood oranges.

Do you have a favorite way to use citrus in your winter decorating? Let us know in the Comments!

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