How to Dry Whole Oranges for Christmas Tree Ornaments

Do you love the look and feel of an authentically natural Christmas tree? I do. There are so many components of nature that are quite beautiful and festive and that can create lovely au natural seasonal décor. Whole dried oranges are one such natural ingredient that replicate shiny ball ornaments in size and shape but that cast the tree in a more homey, organic light. It might seem tricky to dry these oh so juicy fruits, but it’s actually quite an easy process.

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Note: You’re going to need to be okay with (or utterly adore) perfect imperfection in these whole dried oranges. There will be orange pulp visible between the slits, and the shapes might get a little wonky. I happen to love these unique traits; I hope you do, too. Here’s how to do them.

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Materials Needed:

  • Whole oranges
  • Sharp knife
  • Oven & baking sheet
  • String or fishing line & large yarn needle

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Preheat your oven to a low setting, between 170F and 190F. Then start slicing your oranges, just through the peel and not too deep.

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Cut the peel into quarters, from the north pole to the south pole, leaving a bit of space at both poles so the orange peel stays together when dried.

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Half each of those quarters so you have eight equidistant slices around your orange.

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You can see that these oranges weigh about 6oz in their fresh, pre-dried state.

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Set your sliced whole oranges on a baking sheet or on a metal rack on a baking sheet. I did both to see if one would work better than the other, but I found both the rack and sheet to be effective drying surfaces for the oranges.

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Slide your baking sheet into the preheated oven. These will be baking/drying for about 24-48 hours, depending on the size of the oranges, so make sure you don’t need your oven during this time. (Or, you could simply pull them out for an hour to bake whatever else you need to bake, then place the oranges back in. They’re pretty forgiving.)

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Every so often, every few hours or so, check on the oranges. Rotate them on the baking sheet.

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You may notice, as the oranges dry out, that some of your slits didn’t go all the way through the peel. If you want, it’s okay to pull these oranges out and complete the slits.

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This will help to expedite the drying process, too. In this example, I failed to do this early on, and the oranges dried unevenly. Slitting the oranges completely within a couple of hours of starting their drying time will help to create a more uniform slit space all the way around the orange.

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Again, the time that your oranges will be in the oven drying depends on the size of your oranges, the temperature you set the oven at, and the completeness of your orange slits. When almost completely dried, this orange now weighs just more than an ounce, compared to the 6 ounces it started at.

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Thread your string or fishing line onto a large yarn needle. You’ll want a needle that’s long enough that it can go all the way through the top of the orange.

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Insert the needle into the orange at the top of one of your north pole slits, and have it exit the top of the slit directly opposite. Cut and tie your string.

 

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The string, like this red and white bakers’ twine, can certainly lend a festive air to the ornament and bring in some color to your décor. You can also use fishing line if you want the orange to be the only visual part of the ornament.View in gallery

Hang them on your tree, and enjoy!

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The orange peels are deeper in color after being dried, and there are a few pulpy strings inside the wider slits. But aren’t they a lovely, natural ball ornament?

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We hope you enjoy creating these simple DIY whole orange ornaments; they are really so easy. They just take time to dry in your oven, nice and slow. Merry Christmas.