Dehydrated Orange Slices

I have frequent memories of reading Mad Magazines and torn issues of Cracked as a child.  These were cartoony parodies, often cynical and often more cutting than the silly cover portrayed.

Although I have many general memories of these magazines (“What Me Worry?”, Spy Vs. Spy and movie parodies), I only have one specific memory of a particular item in the pages I once poured over.  The Magazine would often take common photos and add their own captions for humour.  They ran a piece on a motorcycle rally and had a photo of a woman driving a motorcycle with the caption “My boyfriend taught me how to drive his bike – I learn how to stop tomorrow!”  (When I read this I missed the obvious sexist undertones as I was young and tender :)).

I don’t know why I remember that cartoon so clearly.  Likely because there are a lot of motorcycle drivers in my family, including some aunts (I was among their rank for several years having owned 3 motorcycles in my life).  But I also liked the idea of trying to do something you don’t know nearly enough about.  I am sure that I did this before I read the cartoon – but it helped solidify and focus that approach.  It’s one (the approach, not the cartoon) that I still hold dear.

Last night was time to experiment with dehydrated mandarins.  Leftover mini-oranges from the Christmas Season are washed, sliced (a quarter inch thick), seeded and laid on sheets before entering the food dehydrator at 135 degrees until brittle.

The total process took 5 hours for some slices and closer to 12 for others – I am still learning some basics of  dehydrating and the importance of making sure the door on the dehydrator is fully closed.

Like the star in my cartoon strip, I learned how to dehydrate oranges yesterday – today I have to learn what to do with them.  My guide to dehydrating claims that grinding them to a powder makes a great flavoring for soups, fish, salad or garnishes.  That’s a good start but we’d have enough powder to last a lifetime – and I really am not prepping for Armageddon.

What are other possible uses then?  So far there’s a few thoughts…

  • Added to water in the fridge.  The oranges will rehydrate somewhat and will definitely flavor the water.  We can always have fruity water without having to run out and buy a single orange.
  • Added to normal tea to add flavor.  Same can be done with hot water when a little under the weather.
  • Chopped and mixed with other dried flavors to create our own teas.
  • Experiment with adding to preserves – either during cooking or at the table to add texture and flavor.

The flavor is very concentrated and a little bitter because of the pith.  I love how they look and will add a slash of color to our Great Wall of Preserves.

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  1. Two words: orange beef.

    Ar least, my (Chinese) aunt used to save her mandarin orange peels and dry them out for use in orange beef. I bet it would be awesome with whole slices.

  2. I’ll bet they would rehydrate nicely in a little boiling water, and, thinly sliced, give a little zing to a veggie stirfy or rice pilaf.

    Also, I’m not sure where you live, but in winter I always have a kettle of water on our propane stove; I save any citrus peels I’m not using for marmalade, zest, etc., and put them in the kettle. The whole house smells delightfully orangey. I grew up with woodstoves as a kid, and my Mom always did this, often with a few hard cloves or a cinnamon stick as well. Yankee potpourri I guess. 🙂


  3. Cool idea! I would love to see what you do with them. A friend just gave me a small dehydrator she wasn’t using anymore. I made banana chips the other day. 🙂 I’d love to try some citrus if I knew what they could be used for.

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      • we have an excaliber 9 tray too, not sure of the exact model but looks like yours, Joel. It does STELLAR duty for much of the year. Herbs, tomatoes, zuchinni, bell pepper chunks, celery (NEVER throw celery away again – after a week, chop and dehydrate). onions (bought a 50 pound bag one time, they started to sprout, we chopped and dried (OUTSIDE) and they have been a joy to pull out, ‘specially when we need powder. Garlic (we grow our own and I am just thinking spring is springing and the leftovers that we haven’t sold need to be processed. a lot of garlic makes hardly any dehydrated. I think I want to try dehydrating ROASTED garlic. mmmm… Peppers (hot) we grow a lot of these and dehydrating keeps them looking fabulous until we cook with them. Yogurt and sour cream (crema) are made weekly – easy peasy and no messy pre-heating of the milk or cream. just pour into a clean jar, add some leftover yog or crema and shake, then presto – the dehydrator does the rest. When the season is really pumping I pull out my older round centre-fanned dehydrator as we run out of trays when the apples and pears are in full production. but in all cases we make the stuff and then it is stored and eaten. make apple slices but shake with a bit of brown sugar and cinnamon. My Daughter eats these like candy, in her lunches….

  5. I had a lot of extra Page oranges and some lemons too so I washed and dried them and dehydrated them in an Excalibur loaned to me. The peels make the slices taste bitter to me, but I can tell that if I had peeled them and then sliced them, they would have been yummy. Did you have bitter peel taste with your mandarins? Overall, my wish is to buy fresh local products in season and then dehydrate them for later use. But there isn’t much fresh local stuff being grown in NC right now.
    I’d love some more ideas on things to dehydrate right now!

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  7. I am dehydrating any fruits I can get my hands on and throwing them all in the same storage bag. When I have to use them for my survival foods I’ll just rehydate them together and have a wonderful fruit stew.

    • Peg, this sounds awesome! Something I’m going to have to try (we store our fruit seperated but would be easy to combine like this). Have you every tried to rehydrate with anything other than water in your stew? I’m thinking apple juice or orange juice, even if cut with water….

    • Simonetta,

      Will have to try that – though I can`t imagine them being much drier than they are as they are rock hard…) Worth a try though…

    • Simonetta,

      Will have to try that – though I can`t imagine them being much drier than they are as they are rock hard…) Worth a try though…

      • Mr. Pablo was slicing Seville oranges to juice and freeze today. Blood oranges were not on the menu, but the bandaids and kleenex and such make me think differently. I have now FINISHED that job. Sigh. and sliced the rind off about 12 oranges, only 24 more to go. they are in the fridge, I AM DONE!!

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  11. Well, ’round these parts the husband eats a bag of clementines in a day. I’m willing to buy them as ANY fruit or veggie he will eat is a win for me. So I make him save the peels. I candy them, use them in black tea for sweetener/flavoring at the same time. I add them to brownies for orange candied brownie, add them to a simple yellow cake and frost with lemon/orange sugar frosting. People come over and think it’s the most amazing cake. I now have friends begging me for jars of candied orange peel. So now the hubby can REALLY eat all the clementines we can manage to buy and I have, for the price of sugar, gifts and seasoning to hand out to family and friends 😀

    Oh and back to the dehydrator – I finish them off in the dehydrator. They keep for years and hold flavor. I only know this because I “lost’ a jar in the back of my old storage area. Otherwise they’re used/eaten too fast. 😀

  12. I’ve seen these used for decorating! You can string them and use as a garland for the holidays. I’ve also seen oranges dried without the skin and pith, in other words segmented, although I am not sure the outer “sack” is still attached. I have a lemon tree, and freeze much of my yield. I have dehydrated finely grated zest. I have found that freezing whole lemons (when I got tired of extracting all that juice…Meyers are prolific) yielded a more bitter juice. Drinkable, or useable, but not the best taste. That said I am guessing this taste is imparted into all citrus that includes the pith and seeds.