Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Dried Orange Slices

or It Should Have Been Really Simple

A few weeks ago, we bought a big bag of Cara Cara oranges that I think were picked too soon--meaning they were tasteless. I mean the only taste they had was from the floss you used after you ate one. So after three oranges in a row like this, the family decided they weren't going to eat anymore. What were we going to do with the rest of the bag? Let it sit in the fruit drawer until the oranges rotted? Certainly that was going to be the default plan, but I was hoping for something better. Then I remembered lovely dried orange slices I had seen as Christmas ornaments. That's what I'd do, I dry them for decorations.

After a little Googling, I found several instructions on how to dry them, and they were all basically the same. Cut the orange into thin slices. Place them on a lined cookie sheet and dry them in a 200 F oven for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Easy. My kind of craft.

 However, all didn't go as planned. On my first attempt, the slices were rather uneven, but I thought this shouldn't matter much. I put them in the oven and checked them occasionally. Every time I checked, they were still wet. After 5 hours of this (2x longer that it should have taken) and not much progress, I turned the oven up to 250 F. Some instructions listed this as a drying temperature, so I thought it would be okay. And you know what happend? When I checked them 1/2 hour later. They were burnt.
On my next attempt, I made the slices thinner, but they were still rather uneven. This time I never turned the temperature above 200 F and turned the slices occasionally for even drying. After a few hours, I started removing the thinner slices that were almost dry and left the moist ones. All was in line for success. And you know what happened?  They burned again. It seemed to happen quickly between two of my frequent checks.

Now I was getting a little worried. In the many instructions I had read about drying orange slices, no one had indicated that they had had any problems. I could soon see myself in a joke like the one about being such a bad cook they couldn't even boil water. I was going to be such a bad crafter, I couldn't even dry orange slices.

But I tried again. I had Ward slice the orange for me this time and I put the slices in our dehydrator. I dried them for several hours until I had beautiful dried slices. Hooray! Maybe there was hope for me after all because I did it my way. (Cue Elvis.)