Need a little summer warmth this winter? I have the perfect solution. Take the summer, dry it and then jar it so that you can open a little jar of sunshine any time of year.
Sometimes I forget how lucky we are in North America that we can get fresh fruit all year round. It might not come from the farm next door, but there is always an orange or lemon waiting on the grocery shelf if needed. The problem in the winter is that they sometimes don’t look that great. The solution? Dry them when they are good whatever time of year it is and you will have them on hand when needed.
So if lemons and oranges are available any time of year, what is the point of drying them? Good question my friends. The answer is two fold. 1. Convenience – they are always there in the cupboard so if you need something quick to throw into your tea at the first sign of a sore throat, it is right there and there is no need to venture out into he weather for a single piece of fruit. 2. It is not quite the same as the fresh fruit and so does have different uses. They are lighter and easier to store and can be ground up and added to food or thrown in whole to dishes to add a little tang.
The main reason that I have a jar of dried lemons, limes and oranges is for beverages, especially tea. I love to through a slice into a cup of tea or even just some hot water with some honey added in. And then there is mulled wine! Seriously… mulled wine… throw a handful of orange or lemon slices into the wine as it is warming with the spices of your choice and you are in for a serious treat to warm your toes.
Convinced yet? If not just think of all of the boxes of mandarines lying around after the holidays. If you are even thinking that you might not get to eating them all, take action, dry them and enjoy them later.
The process is pretty straight forward but does highly depend on your food dehydrator. Can you use an oven? Absolutely but since I have a food dehydrator (and a cheap one at that) I like to use it so that my oven is not tied up. You never know when you are going to get hungry and need your oven! I also found that when I started doing this, a google search was useless. Everyone seems to have a different temperature recommendation and a different amount of time and I found that mine took way longer than everyone else’s. What I recommend is that if you don’t want them to turn brown or cook, keep it low (say 115F or 45C) and then leave them until they are dried. It took mine almost 2 days of drying!
Make sure that you wash them really well to get any way off of the fruit and if you are lucky enough to only get organic and unwaxed fruit then bonus points to you! Slice them relatively thin and pop them onto the trays. Once they come out of the dehydrator make sure to let them cool completely and then store in an airtight container until you need them.
Simple right? There is nothing to it except to slice and wait and you have something on hand that brings a little summer tang to even the darkest days!