How to make orange slices for Christmas decorations

Written by deborah harding
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How to make orange slices for Christmas decorations
The pulp of the orange is translucent when fresh and when dried. (Getty Premium images)

Orange slices dry easily in an oven and create beautiful ornaments for Christmas trees. Use them to decorate indoors for their beauty and outdoors to provide food for wildlife. They make windows festive as light shines through the dried membrane like stained glass. Not only do dried orange slice ornaments look good, but they smell fresh and lovely, too.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Sharp knife
  • Cutting board
  • Baking tray
  • Cheesecloth
  • Oven
  • Spatula
  • Paring knife
  • Twine, ribbon or wire
  • Star anise
  • Bay leaves
  • Pine twig
  • Glue gun and glue sticks

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  1. 1

    Cut oranges in thin slices with a sharp knife on a cutting board. Try to make them as uniform as possible.

  2. 2

    Cover a baking tray with cheesecloth. This prevents orange slices from sticking or burning.

  3. 3

    Place slices on cheesecloth so they do not touch each other and put them in a preheated oven at the lowest temperature possible -- 65 to 95 degrees Celsius (150 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit).

  4. 4

    Turn slices over after four hours has elapsed so the bottom side of the slice is on top. Check every hour or so. Slices should look dry but still have orange colour. The centre or fruit pulp part may be soft and pliable but will dry out at room temperature. This whole process may take eight to 10 hours to complete.

  5. 5

    Remove slices from oven and let them cool on the baking tray. When slices are cool, cut a hole with a paring knife in the top of each slice.

  6. 6

    String a piece of twine, thin ribbon or wire thorough the hole and tie in a loop to make a hanger.

  7. 7

    Decorate dried slices if desired by gluing one piece of star anise in the centre of a slice and a dried bay leaf on the back or glue a piece of real or artificial evergreen at the top near the loop.

Tips and warnings

  • Use a dehydrator set on fruit to dry orange slices cut 1/4 inch thick. The drying process takes about 6 to 10 hours and there is no need to turn the slices. Prior to drying, sprinkle orange slices with ground cinnamon to enhance colour and scent of the ornament. Spray finished ornament with acrylic sealant on both sides and let dry. This will inhibit any bugs that might want to indulge in dried orange, but it will also cover up the delightful scent.
  • Dried orange slices placed on trees outside will be eaten by wildlife. Do not put any decorative items on them because it will do harm to the birds and animals. Avoid using hangers to put them on a tree but instead push the centre of the orange through an evergreen branch. There will be nothing to clean up.

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