Dried citrus: how to do it and lessons learned

An abundance of Arizona winter citrus calls for many things, but it wasn’t until I saw a dried citrus garland that I was like oh yea! We gon’ dry some citrus out.

The area that we live in was a vast citrus grove at the turn of the 20th century. There’s still a ton of citrus around here. We have a lot of Arcadia grapefruit going on.

Two ways I’ve dried winter citrus

Dehydrating, or drying out fruit, doesn’t have to be complicated. Or so I’ve learned. There may be other ways to do this but I’m going to tell you about the particular ways I’ve done it and lessons learned. There was a lot.

If you didn’t catch my IG stories, where I talked through this, I’ve saved it as a highlight on my profile. To make dried fruit slices, you just slice up some citrus and dry them out one of two ways.

To be clear, both of these methods are going to take some time. So this is definitely a passive activity, but one that is so worth it. If you’re like me, you’re home a lot right now anyway, right?

Oven-dried

This method is the most common and basically requires you to bake slices of fruit low and slow. Done right, oven-dried fruit is easy and will give your fruit a deeply caramelized version of their original color. Prepare to spend an entire day checking on your fruit and flipping them every so often.

To oven dry fruit:

  • Slice fruit
  • Place on a drying rack on top of a cookie sheet or use parchment paper
  • Bake low and slow for about 8 hours, turning every so often

You can certainly place the slices directly on the rack, but you need to have something to catch the juices underneath.

Sun-dried

This is my favorite method, although it takes way longer. We’re talking a week versus a day. I love sun-dried citrus because the fruit maintains it’s freshly cut color best this way. Although, the deeply caramelized color of oven-dried fruit is beautiful too.

To sun dry fruit:

  • Slice fruit
  • Place on sheets or some sort of surface outside
  • Leave out in the sun
  • Flip every day or so

So, which dried citrus method is right for you? Well, do you have all day, or do you have all week to wait? Oven-dried has a lot more room for error, but the pay-off is worth it!

4 Tips for drying out citrus

Learn from my mistakes! I ruined a whole batch and it was so sad. Here are the things that I learned during a few rounds of drying out our citrus slices.

1. Know your oven

Does your oven run hot or just about right? If you’re not sure and you decide to go with this method, let me highly suggest that you start at 150 degrees initially. The instructions I read said to do 200 degrees. Sounded great to me, I popped a batch in my oven and then my mother-in-law’s next door.

Now, I will admit I didn’t watch the next-door batch very closely….my bad! However, the batch in her oven burned and mine came out pretty well. I read after the fact that some people set their ovens to 150. You can always increase the heat if it’s taking too long.

2. Use healthy fruit

Most of the citrus we dried came straight from the source – off the trees in our yard. Our kitchen smelled AMAZING. However, some of the fruit I threw in the oven was not-so-in-its-prime. I was like “oh hey, this fruit is going to go to waste, let’s dehydrate it.”

Nope, not a good idea. At the end, I could tell a healthy fruit versus a not healthy one. The insides of the fruit were sunken in and didn’t get the best color in the oven. So whether it’s picking up from fruit from the farmers market or store, or sourcing them from your own yard, use ’em fresh!

3. Thin vs thick slices

This was another aspect I struggled with. If I cut the fruit thin, I would have more slices, but would be able to dry less at a time in the oven. If I cut them thicker, I can do more at a time, but they’ll take longer to dry.

On top of that struggle, I decided to combine thick and thin slices on the pan and some cooked faster than others. So here’s the thing, decide on thick or thin and just be consistent. Personally, I like the look of the thin slices, but that’s just my preference.

4. Cut the citrus the right way

To cut the fruit properly, align the ends of the fruit from left to right (vs up and down) and then cut in half. If you’re not sure, try one out on the ends, you’ll get a nice little wheel of fruit if you’re cutting it correctly.

Be sure to share pics of your dried citrus with me!

There are so many uses for dried winter citrus, like a DIY organic holiday garland! I’ll have to do a blog on all the other ways we’re getting use out of them. A friend of mine suggested doing a citrus swap, which I would love to do. We don’t have lemons or regular limes at our home.

If you decide to make some dried citrus of your own, be sure to tag @theflowerbungalow or #theflowerbungalow on Instagram. I’d love to see how they came out!

2 thoughts on “Dried citrus: how to do it and lessons learned”

  1. Pingback: Drink bar at a garden-themed party | The Flower Bungalow

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