How To Dehydrate Citrus Slices (Oranges, Lemons and Limes)

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how-to-dehydrate-citrus-slices

Citrus seems to be one of the harder fruits to preserve. After all, home canned orange juice doesn’t taste very good, grapefruit juice although it can be canned still has a canned flavor, and marmalade uses large amounts of sugar. Citrus is so hard to preserve because most of the goodness is in the juice, and the pith and skin (although really nutritious) have a sour or bitter taste. Dehydrating citrus wheels is the closest you can get to actually preserving the natural state of the fruit. Dehydrated citrus is a little more bitter than fresh citrus, but not by a lot. It still tastes great in tea, in lemonade or orangeade, and in recipes. I even eat the dehydrated slices right out of the water (after they’re re-hydrated). Also, the skin of dehydrated citrus can be used to make a citrus powder which is again a little more bitter than zest but still very useful in a pinch or when citrus is not in season.

How To Dehydrate Citrus Slices (Oranges, Lemons and Limes)

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Wash all of your oranges, lemons and limes. Be sure to use a veggie wash.

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You can make citrus slices simply with a knife, just cut as thin as you can.

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This is actually one of thicker slices I cut but I picked it up to show you that you can easily peel off the skin if you wanted to dehydrate the lemon skin and the lemon separately.

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However, this slicer made the slicing go so much easier. I would say 99% better. If you are a serious dehydrator I would definitely consider investing in one. Honestly, I thought it was a bit of an extravagant tool so I put off getting one for until recently. I was wrong! It’s just a tool that makes your life so much easier.

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You get beautiful even thin slices effortlessly.

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I took off the skin on some of the orange slices to grind up and make herbal tea at some point in the future.

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Load up your trays.

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I also saved and dehydrated the ends to make citrus powder or to stick into some vinegar (at some date in the future) and make citrus cleaner.

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Here are my lemons. Yeah, you noticed the dehydrator change didn’t you? I recently invested in an Nesco/American Harvest. I know a lot of people have them and I wanted to do some comparison posts. Scroll down to the bottom of this post to see my review video of both the Excalibur and Nesco/American Harvest.

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Here are my limes.

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Again I saved the ends to make powder or cleaner at some point in the future.

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I dehydrated the orange slices in my 9 tray Excalibur for about 12 hours on 135F°.

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They turned out perfect.

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Here is a close-up.

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I dehydrated the lemons and the limes in the Nesco/American Harvest at the same temperature for the same amount of time. Yeah, they look a little over done. The actually taste just fine. I re-hydrated some to make sure and they tasted lemony and not burned or cooked. However, I wondered what the problem was so I tried again. This time at a lower setting.

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These dried in the Nesco/American Harvest at 115F° for about 24 hours and they look a lot more appetizing. I would say it’s a matter of personal preference (since the darker ones still tasted good) as to how long and at what temperature you want to dry them at in the Nesco/American Harvest.

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I like to vacuum seal my dehydrated food in a Mason jar with a FoodSaver. This handy jar attachment makes it easy to vacuum seal a Mason jar.

Excalibur vs Nesco/American Harvest

  • IthacaNancy says:

    I have the Nesco/American Harvester dehydrator with the motor on top. It has a timer as well as temperature setting function. It is a bit noisy, and I wish there was a way to use it as a warmer – maybe if one cut mason jar size holes in extra trays – inexpensive ones from a garage sale perhaps – it would be possible. But in general, for the price, I’m happy with it.

  • Kathy Baker says:

    very nice site, Thank you.
    My husband and I dehydrate citrus then use it ground into powder as ascorbic acid to preserve and keep avocados, potatoes and add it to drinking water for it’s antioxidant properties.

  • maggie says:

    hi! how do you use your dehydrated oranges? besides cleaners… for food or snacks. do you eat it dry, or only rehydrated?

    • Jennifer Osuch says:

      Hi Maggie,

      I use dehydrated oranges in tea. You can also grind them into a powder and then use the powder for various things.

    • Laura Opie says:

      I like to munch on the dried slices, peel and all. I slice them very thin. I do wonder whether the vitamin C and other nutrients are preserved in the dehydration process. I have read that with vitamin C, once the fruit is cut, higher temperatures for short times are less destructive than even room temperatures for a long time, but I couldn’t find meaningful numbers to go with the statement. Since I’ve heard that chewable vitamin C is bad for your teeth, I also wonder whether chewing dehydrated orange peels damages my enamel. Although I generally avoid sweeteners, I am sure you could soak orange peels in a sweetener of some kind and make candied orange peel, and it might be very pretty to leave the center, but any kind of soaking or delaying the dehydrating after slicing the orange is going to further deplete the vitamin C.

      • David Masaoka says:

        I have been drinking lemon water and you shouldn’t brush for an hour or two after as your tooth enamel is softened. You can rinse though.

  • Dian says:

    Hi Jennifer, I wish I could print this out…Heading out to our orchard to pick lemons,and limes for now to dry! Can’t wait to do this. My dryer settings are *110, then *145, and higher…So will try the *110 setting and check after 24 hours.
    Thank you

  • RT T says:

    Hi, everyone.

    Hoping you will be able to assist.

    I recently purchased organic dehydrated lemon slices online. They are very brown, very sticky and how can I say this… They smell of urine.

    This is very pungent and lessens when steeped in hot water for an hour or so.

    Barely touching the lemon results in my finger being stuck. There is only a very faint lemon scent present. Basically they smell of rotting food + urine and this just can’t be right, right?

    I had planned to start dehydrating my own citrus, apples and other fruits (kumquats would be awesome) but now I’m worried.

    What do you make of this?

    • Jennifer Osuch says:

      Hi RT,

      I would advise returning your organic dehydrated lemon slices for a full refund. They should not smell of urine. That’s gross. Something is wrong with them as I’ve never had dehydrated food smell like urine.

  • Kathy Griffin says:

    I just saw the lemon slices with the dark fruit and am so relieved that they are OK. Mine have done this and I thought something was wrong with them and was going to toss them. I dehydrated these in a Nesco dehydrator that doesn’t have a temperature setting. The next time I dry lemons, I’ll use my Excalibur and put it at 125 that you recommend in the dehydrating course. Somehow, I missed this part of it when I went through it last year. Thank you so much for all of the pictures and the step-by-steps.

  • Marietjie Stegmann says:

    HI, can you help me? If I dry the oranges the cells of the slices seems so stay intact and thus full of juice. I cannot see that this will keep for very long before going bad. The hole slice feels sticky and humid. the peel is completely dry.One other lady elsewhere on the web said eventually she pressed the slices to get the juice out? Can you help and explain? I am from South-Africa. My town is Somerset- West.
    Marietjie Stegmann

    • Jennifer Osuch says:

      Hi Marietjie,

      It sounds like you are drying them at too high a tempeture. Try turning the tempeture down and letting them dehydrate for a longer time.

  • Amy Noland says:

    My husband and I just bought a Cabela’s Harvester Pro dehydrator with the digital display. We have used it a few times and nothing is coming out dry! I have read reviews and some people say the element goes out, but I can feel heat coming through. We tried dehydrating two trays of lemon slices. They weren’t uniform, but fairly thin. I think we tried temps of 125, 135 and finally 140 and they are still tacky and juicy in the middle! We ran it over 24 hours setting it for various times and checking it and restarting it. Some smaller pieces seemed drier so I put them in my Nutribullet to grind them up and they were sticky and clumpy (though it smelled heavenly!) Does it just take a lot longer than we imagine, are we doing it wrong, or should we look at a problem with the dehydrator? Thanks for your help!

    • Jennifer Osuch says:

      I don’t have experience with Harvester Pros. I highly recommend the Excalibur (see link above). But yes, it can depend on your environment and your humidity.

    • EmmyJoyful says:

      I don’t know about your dehydrator, but the Nesco directions say not to use fewer than 4 trays. So when I have a small amount to do, I simply put in empty trays to make up the 4 trays. It seems to make the dehydrating go better. hth

  • adrienne sullivan says:

    I have an old nesco, no timer or temp. Only use 4trays at a time. Always rotate. Can make jerky, tomatoes., fruit & herbs. Love my machine ! Looking forward to lemons as I just got a tree last year!,

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