The fragrance of orange and apple drying in the oven takes me right back to my grandparents'old house (not for the first time this holiday season). I can see myself, as a little girl, sitting on the floor in front of the freshly cut Christmas tree, surrounded by boxes of old glass ornaments collected over the years...Wood in the stove is cracking and filling the space with warmth. While I am making garlands from popcorn and snowflakes from tissue paper, my grandma is simmering dried apricots, apples and pears in a big pot, preparing the traditional dried fruit compote. Grandpa Angel sitting on the table in his signature pose is adding to the house an aroma of cinnamon and nutmeg from mulled wine...
It always amazes me how Christmas time brings back to everyone of us childhood memories of the magical past. It also possesses this unexplained power to inspire our creative being and make us create handmade beauty, something I have always loved. By just taking a little time and using our hands we can lend personality to our Christmases and make them truly a meaningful time for family, friends and strangers. This is how we give the love inside of us wings to fly and reach others...
Days before we trimmed our tree and before our guests arrived for dinner, I spent time drying oranges and apples. Once dried, the fruit slices not only make the room smell great, but they look beautiful and they are multifunctional. With mini jingle bells and hemp twine, I made ornaments. Instead of using them on the Christmas tree, I decided to make a dried fruit holiday tree, simply by putting branches in an urn and covering them with a little moss. I also arrange slices of dried oranges and apples together with pine cones, cinnamon sticks, walnuts and chestnuts around candles to create a simple table centerpiece. Then, it came to mind that I can adorn the wine glasses with them...These homemade ornaments would look pretty decorating on top of the wrapping presents, too. And...why not adding them to cinnamon sticks or mint and rosemary in order to make potpourri. Isn't it a perfect welcome gift for the guests?! Of course, I can also make a dried fruit wreath or unique napkin rings...But the best part is that when the Christmas season is done, my son would hang our dried fruits ornaments outside from tree branches and make them gifts to our bird friends.
Dried Orange and Apple Slices
2. Lay the orange slices on a dishtowel and blot them with paper towels to remove any excess moisture.
3. Dip the apple slices into a solution of equal parts lemon juice and water.
4. Place the fruit slices on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Dry in a 200 F for 3-4 hours. It's a bit of a slow process since we only dehydrate and dry them out.
5. About half way through turn each slice over to help the slices dry out evenly.
6. Remove the sheet from the oven and leave for half an hour to cool.
Wishing you all the joy of the season!