Stemming from my previous post, “Jingle Smells and Christmas Pre-scents”, here’s how you can dehydrate the oranges yourself without worrying about your electricity bill.
To dehydrate in the oven, you’ll need to have the pieces in there on a low heat (around 80c) for about 3 hours, I can imagine that would use a similar amount of electricity as boiling your kettle for a long period of time.
Crock Pots, or slow cookers, are cheaper to run and will still achieve the temperature we need to dehydrate/dry the fruit on a low heat (despite me not having any instruction manual). They work by slowly building up the heat as if on a stove, but then containing it, about as much energy as powering two (quite bright) lightbulbs. Although they say liquid does not evaporate in a slow cooker, hence why you need to reduce the water for rice and pasta, just watch this.
Another challenge, like me, some may have, is that their slow cooker isn’t completely round to fit an upside-down cake tin as their ‘shelves’ for the fruit. Diven’t fret, pet*, let’s get creative.
*I do not say “Diven’t” on a daily basis.
Lay a bit of kitchen foil on the bottom of the crockpot (the orange will drip and the sugars will caramelise) and then roll some more foil into a tube and an oval shape. Fill the middle with foil balls so that the orange doesn’t touch the metal in any way (it’ll burn). Only use foil if you’re not intending to eat the fruit!
You can create multiple layers this way, but I found the bottom layers dry quicker, and the top layers stay MOIST (the condensation drips down onto them the most).
This takes a canny few hours, but crock pots/slow cookers are designed to be left unattended, just keep an eye on it when the fruit is almost dry as it’ll begin to burn against the foil. This will be after about 5 hours or so.
I was in two minds whether to keep lifting the lid and wiping it dry (we don’t want the water going back onto the fruit of course! Instead, I found it slightly better to have the lid on loose, that way, a lot of the heat is still contained (especially with the foil in there as well) yet the steam has somewhere to escape. May not be the best idea, but it worked for me (after about 8 hours!
I was so tempted to throw the cinnamon, spices and some red wine in there and make mulled wine. Again, the place smelled amazing.
**Thank yous and merry cheers to my housemate for letting me lend her slow cooker (and trusting me not to break it)