I get a lot of my stuff from the “last day of sale” bin at the grocery store. This weekend I picked up a 5 pound box of mandarin oranges for $2 – SCORE!!!!
The last time I hit the motherlode of mandarins, I canned them in a light syrup (very yummy!) This time, I was rather short on small jars so I am dehydrating them instead.
The cool thing about oranges (and citrus fruit in general) is how darned useful it is. Not only can I use the fruit itself in a number of different ways, I can use the peel to make a wonderful fresh natural cleaner.
So, first things first, get your stuff together.
- Place a few slices into the water pitcher in the fridge for a splash of citrus flavor
- Put a slice into a cup of hot tea (really yummy with cinnamon warming tea)
- Stuff under the skin of poultry for a citrus chicken
- Grind to a powder in the food processor for an addition to the spice cabinet
- Toss a handful into the crockpot to make orange chicken
- Boil some slices with a cinnamon stick for a natural air freshener
- Put a couple of segments into your cocoa for a decadent chocolate orange beverage
- Add smaller pieces to any baked good that needs a hit of citrus – they will reconstitute slightly during the baking process
Lots of people like to eat the dried oranges as a snack. During a long northern winter, if the food supply were ever interrupted because of bad weather or transportation issues, these little bites would be a fantastic source of fiber and vitamin C.
Found your blog at SHTFPlan. It’s just what I’ve been looking for: a HEALTHY prepping site.
A question on the lemons – they appear black in the photo. Is that just the camera or do they turn black, and how can you tell they’re not moldy?
Hi, DT – Thank you for reading and I’m really glad you like the blog!
Yes, they’re lemons. They turn a very dark brown and unappetizing color. As far as mold is concerned, you have to be sure that the pieces are totally dry – they need to be brittle enough to snap in two. If they’re not, there is too much moisture to store from more than a few months.
If they become suspect, better to soak them in vinegar and use them for cleaning that to risk eating them.
This being said I have been drying citrus for a couple of years and have not run into a problem with it! We generally use the pieces up within 6 months. They also make a nice addition to some water and cinnamon on top of the woodstove for a natural air freshener.
I love the idea of the peels in vinegar as a cleaner. I would never have thought of that. I am so glad I found your blog!
What about a few minutes presoak in citric acid, like you do for dehydrating apples to prevent oxidation? I realize citrus has citric acid, but the presoak might help.
I don’t have a dehydrator, can the oranges be dried in the oven? Thanks
Hi Stacey – I haven’t tried drying them in the oven, but I can’t imagine it would be a problem. You’ll want to watch them carefully and set the heat lower than 200 degrees. Turn them frequently for even drying. However, I strongly recommend you consider getting a dehydrator – when you look at the costs for running your oven vs. running a dehydrator, a reasonably priced one will pay for itself quickly. This one is pretty reasonably priced and is a purchase you will use often: