Once the holiday season passes by, my mind switches over to citrus season. Winter is when citrus fruit around the country is at its prime. This is the time of year when I make citrus curds, limoncello, infused alcohols with dried citrus slices, preserve citrus in salt, make marmalades and dehydrate citrus slices.
My preferred method for drying citrus is to dry it in my food dehydrator. But you can also dry fruit in your home oven.
Dry time varies depending on the humidity where you are located and the size and thickness of your slices. But here is a general guide to drying your own citrus.
Yield: As much citrus as you’d like to dry
- Citrus of your choice—oranges, grapefruits, lemons and limes
- Cutting board
- Sharp knife
- Food dehydrator or oven (ideally with convection setting)
- Baking sheets and parchment paper (for oven only)
- Jar for storage
Wash the citrus and remove any dirt, wax or spray. Dry thoroughly. If you intend to cook or eat the dried citrus, opt for organic fruit versus conventionally grown.
Trim off ends of fruit and slice fruit into 1/8- to 1/4-inch slices and remove seeds.
Lay fruit on dehydrator tray in a single layer (or a parchment paper lined baking sheet if using oven), leaving space between each slice so that they are not touching. Dry at 135 degrees F if using a food dehydrator and at 175 to 200 degrees F (depending on how low your oven will go) if using an oven.
A food dehydrator will take six to eight hours to dry, maybe longer if humid in your home. An oven will take three to four hours. It is recommended to check on the slices periodically and to even turn them occasionally though the drying process to help them along.
Once the citrus is dried fully, it will have no signs of moisture. The skin should be tough and crisp. The colors will have intensified.
Allow the citrus to completely cool before storing. Store in an airtight, dry place. I keep mine in a clamp jar in the pantry.
Organize fruit slices of like-size together on drying trays, since smaller slices will dry out sooner than larger ones.
If fruit slices still seem tacky after dry time, return to the dehydrator or oven and dry longer. Periodically check on them so that you do not overcook them. Very humid atmospheres can take up to 15 hours of drying time in a dehydrator.
Dried fruit for consuming lasts years if kept in dry, airtight containers. If for décor, it can last many years. I’ve had citrus fruit garlands hung for several years in our house and they still look as fresh as day one.
Uses for Dried Citrus
Use them to:
- Infuse soups and teas
- Infuse alcohol
- Grind into a powder to use as a seasoning
- Make ornaments or garlands
- Cocktail garnishes
- Snack on in their dried form
- Add to potpourri