Let’s talk for a second about garnishes. When I first started cooking and making homemade cocktails, I thought garnishes were a waste of time and energy. All I wanted was for my homemade food and drinks to taste spectacular. Anything else seemed fussy or pretentious. I never thought I would’ve made dried citrus slices.
But you know what, I’ve been converted. We do eat with our eyes first, and seeing a lovely garnish or beautifully plated dish makes me more excited about what I consume. And when you are making things for others, it’s often those little details that get noticed and are appreciated the most. So now I take the time to make clear ice, to put a fresh wedge of citrus or dash of herbs on a plate of food or in a cocktail. The presentation makes it feel special, makes my efforts not-at-all a waste of time, and brings me that extra bit of joy when the time comes to eat or drink.
So earlier this week, when out for lunch with pals, I ordered a cocktail and it was garnished with the loveliest piece of dried citrus floating on top. I had seen this before, but somehow this time it struck me. I need to make these. I do oven-dried tomatoes so I figured these couldn’t be that different.
Turns out, these dried citrus slices are super simple to make. And they have so many uses. My favorite use is as a simple garnish on a cocktail or plate of food, even cakes or cupcakes, but you can also make customized/flavored salts or sugars. Grind these slices in a spice grinder with salt or sugar. You can even add spices like cinnamon or herbs like rosemary. Use these to rim glasses or sprinkle them as a garnish. I’m imagining snickerdoodles with citrus/cinnamon sugar sprinkled on top, or chicken breasts finished with citrus/rosemary salt. Use your imagination.
A baking sheet with a wire rack on top
Preheat your oven to 200 F, I prefer using convection because I think it dries them more quickly.
Thinly slice your citrus into wheels. Arrange the fruit in a single layer on the wire rack. Bake until dry. This could take anywhere from 2 hours to 5 hours, depending on the size of your fruit and the thickness of your slices.
Cool, then store in an airtight container at room temperature.