AS A FLORAL designer, I’ve long used citrus in my holiday arrangements as a nod to Victorian Christmas celebrations, which included fresh and dried fruit decorations. I also do this because winter is when most citrus is in season—I live in L.A. where farmers markets begin to overflow with all kinds of oranges in December. A few years ago, I turned dehydrated citrus slices into a garland, and have been stringing them together for customers ever since. With just a handful of materials, and a good dose of patience, it’s something you can do right at home. Having a dehydrator makes this project a cinch, but you can dry citrus slices in the oven as well—it takes five to six hours so plan to make a day of it; you cannot leave your house while your oven is on. Just throw some mulling spices in a pot of cider to add to the delicious smell, and cozy up with a book, or your favorite indoor winter activity, till your slices are ready to be strung.
- 7 – 10 pieces of citrus fruit (lemons, limes, and oranges work best; opt for the least juicy looking ones you can find)
- Serrated knife
- Baking sheet
- Parchment paper
1. If not using a dehydrator, heat your oven to 170 to 180 degrees.
2. Use a serrated knife to slice your citrus into rounds, cutting them as thin as possible. Watch your fingers, especially when you get to the end of the fruit; a serrated knife sticks to the citrus skin better for less chance of slippage. (If using a dehydrator, dehydrate your slices and skip to step 4.)
3. Lay slices flat on parchment-covered baking sheets and place in oven. After three hours, use tongs to flip the slices and check their dryness. It’s almost impossible to get consistently thin slices, so some might dry more quickly than others. If slices look done, test their dehydration by touching the center; if you see any moisture, they need more time. Continue to check every hour, removing the slices that are completely dehydrated. They should all be dried by the end of hour six.
4. When all your dried slices have cooled, it’s time to string them. (Don’t string the citrus ends, but save them for use in a cocktail or add them to a cup of tea.) If you want your garland to have a color gradient or pattern, lay out your slices in your preferred order. Otherwise simply begin stringing by poking one side of a slice with a toothpick, close to the rind. Poke a second hole on the other side of the round, opposite the first hole, close to the rind. Poke the end of the twine through one hole and pull it out of the other.
5. Repeat step 4, sliding your slices down the twine as you go. As long as the holes you make with your toothpick are small, the slices should stay in place where you want them to—even though they’re dehydrated, they’ll still have a bit of tackiness to them. Feel free to vary the hole placement for the twine’s point of entry (from closer to the top down to the middle of the round) and slightly overlap your slices to achieve a look similar to mine. Continue sliding slices onto your twine until you’re happy with the look and length.
6. Cut your twine, tie off each end of your garland, and hang inside, from a mantle, or around a Christmas tree. When done displaying it, wrap it in paper, fold it on top of itself, and keep it in a dry place. Your garland will keep for years if properly stored.
This article originally appeared in the Winter 2020 print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today!
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