Saturday

Making Orange Potpourri

Drying orange peel is a great way to make the most of your citrus, and with the prices we're all paying for a bag of oranges, it pays to get the most we can for the money we're spending.

I've always liked orange peel. I've candied it and just tossed a peel in the wastepaper as I passed to keep it sweet smelling. A few years ago I decided to take a more active role in saving peels, so from stuffing whole chickens with them (for the aromatics) to using them in potpourri, orange peels rule at my house.

They can actually look quite nice in potpourri, either homemade or store bought. You don't even have to work too hard to prep them. Just cut peels into thin strips, give them a bath in a little red food coloring to tint the pith (the light colored back) and dry the strips.

After they're dry, add a few drops of sweet orange oil (essential oil of orange) and place them where you need them. You can also use any other essential oil aroma that strikes your fancy. I've used clove, cinnamon and even vanilla, depending on the other ingredients in the potpourri.

They're natural odor eaters, and sweet orange oil is a mood enhancer too. You can make your home smell fresher, look nicer and make yourself happy doing it. What could be better? The photos below will show you my process. This one is quick and easy:

Instructions for Drying Decorative Orange Peel

Slice orange peels.

Soak them in a half cup of water to which you've added eight to twelve drops of red food coloring (depending on the brand). Leave for five minutes.

Place strips on a dehydrator for three to five hours. You can also just dry the peels in a warm dark place or on a cookie sheet in a warm oven.

If you want decorative strips, wrap them into curls while they're wet and they'll dry that way. For long strips, you can make corkscrews. Keep them in place with a paperclip until they dry completely.

Add two or three drops of essential oil per peel.


Over the winter, we eat a lot of oranges, so I always have baggies of prepped peel strips to work with. It's a fun easy project, and you can make an impromptu potpourri with cinnamon sticks, star anise, orange peel (of course), whole nuts, like almonds and walnuts, and lavender flowers or rose petals.

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