We’re avid collectors of natural craft supplies over here. Sure, my girls and I gather the usual assortment of stuff on our hikes and adventures–acorns and pinecones from the woods, seashells and sand from the beach, fabulous rocks and little fossils from the creek beds near our house–but we also collect some less usual materials. Yes, it might be weird that my seven-year-old was out in the front yard on January 2, sawing all the branches off of our old Christmas tree with her child-sized hacksaw, but wait until I show you the brand-new set of tree blocks, and the checkers and matching games that we’re going to make with that pine trunk!
So when I saw that my family was clearly not going to eat through that entire 10-pound bag of navel oranges before the last ones went bad, I thought briefly about marmalade and fruit leather, but then I thought, “Nah–craft supplies!”. Read on to see how to turn leftover oranges into shelf-stable craft supplies, and how to make a garland that shows off the lovely translucency of the preserved orange slices.
To begin, wash and dry your oranges, then cut them into thin slices of about the same width. If you’ve got any other citrus, such as these lemons that I’m dehydrating along with the oranges in this photo, you can process them right along with the oranges.
While you can dry orange slices in the oven, even a small dehydrator will get the job done more efficiently, using far less energy–and it leaves your oven free for cookies! My slices are pretty thick, on account of my knives are terribly dull (I know, I know, huge safety hazard!), and so this particular batch of fruit took a full eight hours for the oranges to dehydrate, and about five hours for the lemons. The thinner you cut your fruit, the less time it will take.
Since you’re not going to eat these oranges, AND you’re going to sit them around your house at room temperature, you want them to be thoroughly dehydrated. They’ll actually be crunchy when they’re done, although don’t keep them in the dehydrator after they’ve become crunchy, because even at this low temperature, they can still burn.
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