Having a few oranges, satsumas, lemons and limes that had certainly past their best, i.e. blackened and hard, I couldn’t bear to just throw them away so decided to make these gorgeous smelling decorations which fill the house with wonderful aromas. They also make fab little Christmas gifts.
The dried fruits are so simple to make:
- Pre-heat the oven to 100c
- Slice the fruit horizontally no thinner than 0.5 cm. If you did wish to hang them on a garland or on the tree with a ribbon/string, poke a ‘hole’ in the top of the slices before baking. Keep the end parts to make a great eco-friendly cleaner (see below). To make the dried whole fruit, score vertical cuts in small fruits such as satsumas and limes.
- Lay on a wire rack for best results ensuring they do not overlap. If using a tray, they are likely to stick but I used a silicone tray with great results.
- For extra an ‘Christmassy’ aroma, I dusted a little cinnamon and mixed spice over a few of the slices.
- Bake for 4 – 6 hours (the whole fruits will definitely take 6 hours), turning a few times throughout cooking. Do not be tempted to turn the heat up as they will burn.
- Remove from the oven and leave to cool fully. The peels and whole fruit will still be slightly soft but will dry out a bit more once cooled. If using with lights as pictured here, ensure that they are LED type ones which do not emit heat and never leave unattended.
To dry the slices in a microwave – lay the slices on a microwaveable plate, again, do not overlap. Cook on defrost or 40% power for 7 – 14 mins. Turn over three times during cooking. Watch them very carefully as they are more likely to burn in the microwave.
To make citrus cleaner:
- Add the peel ends and any other citrus peels if you have them to a clean jar.
- Cover completely with white distilled vinegar, seal and leave for at least 2 weeks to infuse shaking occasionally.
- After 2 weeks, strain and add 1 part citrus vinegar to 3 parts water with a small squirt of washing up liquid.
- Pour into a spray bottle and use as you would any all purpose or glass cleaner. Alternatively, just pour a little on to a cloth to use.
It does have an initial smell of vinegar but this soon disperses to leave a citrus scent. The great thing is that this is great to keep insects away as they hate the smell of citrus. The essential oils in citrus peel along with the vinegar help to cut through grease and grime without any of the nasties in commercial cleaners – win win!