Happy Holidays! We love decorating for this wonderful time of year and using natural elements such as dried fruit to add a festive feel to our celebrations. Dried citrus makes beautiful garlands, table runners, ornaments and more. The possibilities are truly endless. The creative team at Hester & Cook crafted citrus garlands for our Atlanta Market showroom to display with our Winter Citrus Story, the perfect backdrop for a gorgeous, handmade winter wonderland.
Not only is this a lovely decoration to hang in your home, it is also a great idea for a craft night! Our retail team gathered for a crafting party to prep our stores for the winter season and had a great time making citrus garlands together. Gather your friends, favorite cocktails and citrus garland supplies to make this fun and easy holiday craft! Here is how to get started.
Gather your materials.
- Mandolin slicer or serrated edge knife
- For thin, consistent slices that dry more quickly, we recommend using a mandolin. Caution: Be sure to use the protective cover that comes with your mandolin to protect your hands from the sharp blade. This one is a great option. If you would rather use a knife, be sure to cut your slices at a consistent width.
- Citrus fruits - oranges, grapefruit, lemons, etc.
- If you want a variety of color, consider using a few different types of citrus. We used navel oranges and blood oranges for our garland. Keep in mind that the slices will shrink in size a bit during the baking process.
- Cookie sheets
- Oven-safe, wire cooling racks
- Twine or fishing line
- Darning needle
- Paper towels
- Wooden beads (optional) We suggest these.
- Greenery such as eucalyptus or evergreen sprigs (optional)
- Heat your oven to 185 to 200 degrees - this varies based on the oven so you may have to do a small test batch. The key is SLOW and LOW! Note: you could also use a food dehydrator if you have one, but be sure to research the best temperature options for drying fruit in it.
- Slice your citrus - For consistently thin and even slices, use a mandolin, but a serrated edge knife works if you don’t have one. You want to get your slices as thin as you can so they will dry quicker. We recommend cutting them about 1/8” thick. If cut too thick, they will take a long time to dry and you risk unevenness across the batch.
- Towel dry the slices - It is helpful to take paper towels and dab the extra moisture out of the slices before baking them. This will decrease the amount of time it takes to bake the slices.
- Assemble the slices for baking - Gather several nonstick cookie sheets and oven-safe wire cooling racks of the same size that can sit on top of the sheets. Try to use as many as will fit in the oven at one time to get the largest batch you can. It is important to use the cooling racks to elevate the slices of the sheets so that they can get airflow and dry on the bottom side, as well. Lay out your slices in rows on the racks on top of the sheets, being sure none are overlapping or get too crowded.
5. Bake slices - Bake your slices on the center racks of your oven. It will take anywhere from 4-6 hours depending on your oven temperature. Keep an eye on them as they bake. Check them every 30-45 minutes and flip them when they look about halfway done. You want the slices to dry enough that they are not tacky or sticky to the touch and have no moisture. Be careful not to overbake. You will see the slices naturally start to darken, but if they begin to get really brown around the edges, you will know your temp is likely too high or they have been in too long. Allow the slices to cool.
6. Arrange garlands - Take your baked citrus slices and arrange them in rows on a table. You can work in your wooden beads or greenery if you like. There is no wrong way to assemble, so get creative and choose a layout that works for your preferences. Once you have your arrangement laid out, you can begin to string the slices together.
7. Assemble - Take your darning needle and thread your twine or fishing line through it. Begin stringing your slices and any other accessories together. Once you have a length you are happy with, give yourself a few inches of slack and then cut and tie off your string. Depending on how you plan to display your garland, you may want to give yourself even more slack in the line.
We decided to use our citrus garlands on our Christmas tree as well as on the table as a centerpiece, styled with our Winter Citrus Story. Bring in some whole oranges and other natural elements to enjoy on the table, as well. You can even put any extra dried slices in a bowl on the table. Everyone will love the wonderful fragrant citrus! Dried citrus also looks so lovely hanging in a window where the sunlight can shine through.
Enjoy your hand-crafted citrus garland throughout the holiday season and use it again next year, too. Dried citrus should last for a few years before the colors fade. Be sure to store your garland in a cool, dry place when not in use to keep it fresh.