Want a green Christmas? Go orange.

What do you have after you purchase an entire box of clementines and a big ol bag of navel oranges and you have enjoyed just the right amount of candied peel and orange flavored desserts? If you are like me, you have a good number of oranges left over. Have those oranges become a little, I don’t know, stale? Oranges eventually go bad like any fruit and I am not going to pretend that they don’t go bad on my watch. But a questionable orange is still a usable orange. Oranges and clementines make for lovely Christmas decorations. All you need is a mandolin and an oven. That would be the food slicing mandolin and not the musical instrument of the lute family. Just wanted to be perfectly clear on that.

The mandolin and I have a love/hate relationship. I love how uniform and perfect it slices oranges and apples and really, anything. I hate how the mandolin’s incredibly sharp blade has left me with no definable fingerprints. So, when slicing oranges, use your best judgement.

You can slice an orange as thin as you possibly can with a knife but I have never been able to successfully slice a thin, even slice of orange with a knife. Only a thin, even slice of my finger. Plus, the thicker the slice of orange the longer it takes to dry out. An orange slice on the super thin setting of my mandolin takes approximately two hours in an oven set at 200 degrees –  just warm enough to dry out the orange and not bake it. I would also recommend placing the slices on parchment paper while they are drying out in the oven for easy removal. The parchment absorbs the moisture and the orange slice does not stick to the pan.

What can you do with these slices once they are done? Oh the ideas are endless I am sure. But, for now, I will focus on only two.

They make very nice ornaments for your Christmas tree. Doesn’t the ornament above look lovely? No need to feel you must have an expensive and ornately adorned tree. The slices of a few oranges are plenty ornamental all on their own. Add some ribbon and it is downright festive.

I have also used orange slices when wrapping up a gift of candied orange peel or the orange vanilla shortbread. And there really is no need to present your gift in a fancy tin or fancy wrap, all of which usually comes with a fancy price. Just a simple white box, a dried orange slice and some ribbon and you will have a memorable and heartfelt package for what I am sure is an equally memorable and heartfelt gift. Enjoy!

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