Monday, April 11, 2011

Mandarin Oranges

Years ago, Josh and I got interested in learning a lot about dehydrating because of how helpful it can be in planning for backpacking trips. Water is heavy, so rather than carry around extra water all the time, it's nice to dehydrate your food and collect (and filter and sterilize) water to drink and cook with along the way. We started looking into options and one we found, tried, and really liked was dehydrated mandarin oranges. For some reason, the Geisha brand in particular works really well. These were on sale at our local grocery store recently, so we bought a case.

Just open the can, drain off the juice and lay them out on the dehydrator. I've never actually tried it, but I'm wondering if the oranges would come off the tray easier if the tray was lightly coated with non-stick cooking spray first.
When the oranges are dehydrated, they're like candy. And much easier to pack (on the trail or in the car) than cans of oranges.
Then I got to thinking, "I wonder if you can make orange leather?" We've made peach leather, strawberry leather, even yogurt leather. Are there enough solids in oranges for them to turn into fruit leather? Might as well try it out. I drained 2 cans and put them in the food processor
Pureed and got a little worried about the water content
Poured it out onto the tray (you DO want to spray fruit leather trays with non-stick cooking spray, makes it much easier to get the leather out). Turns out 2 cans wasn't quite enough for one tray
It did work pretty well though. In the future, I think I would try to get a little more water out before pureeing. Either let them drain longer, or perhaps put them on the dehydrator for an hour or two and then puree them. It'd also help to have a full tray's worth, which I think would be about 3 cans. This pulled apart a bit when I peeled it off the tray, it would've held up better if it was thicker.
And because I've totally corrupted Josh with my frugal ways, he's got me thinking of ways to use the juice (well, it's really syrup), so it doesn't go to waste. He was thinking as replacement liquid in a cake, but I'm not sure that would work. I think it could be used in making up a glaze...maybe a citrusy glaze for a pound cake...but that wouldn't use up very much of it. I suppose you could freeze the juice to use later. You may even be able to can it. I have no idea if that would be officially safe, but since it's safe to can fruits in light syrup in a boiling water bath, surely this would be the same? Perhaps pressure canning would be the safer bet. Do you have any other ideas?


One Acre Homestead said...

I've got to try this! What a great idea & my kiddos love mandarin oranges. Can I request a post on how you filter and sterilize water? Does it taste okay when you're done? What products have you found that work best? Also, I use the syrup from fruits to blend with frozen berries and put in my popsicle maker. Makes great popsicles! :) I think we paid around $2 for our popsicle form and we've used it for 5 years! Certainly cheaper than buying popsicles at the store and I put real fruit in ours, so it's so much healthier! Try throwing leftover smoothie in there...yummm! And it keeps the smoothie from going to waste after little tummies decide they're full.

Rachel said...

I was going to suggest using the syrup to make popsicles, too. I love the idea of dehydrating mandarin oranges. My kids love them, and I buy them at Kroger in juice (the only place I can find them), but they aren't very sweet. I think dehydrating them might make them sweeter. I just made a batch of strawberry fruit leather this weekend, and it made me think of you.

The Hills said...

I just made strawberry fruit leather too! That post is coming up ;-)

We haven't bought any new types of water treatment in several years, but I can do a quick post on that soon.

Kevin Carson said...

I just got the idea of dehydrating mandarin oranges a couple days ago, and have some in drying right now.

I've tried spinach salads with dried cherries and bleu cheese, and with canned mandarin oranges and bleu cheese. It struck me that the dried fruit-bleu cheese combo would be good in a large variety of ways, and it would be interesting to see how the oranges tasted with their flavor concentrated by dehydration.

So after I put the oranges in to dry, I Googled to see if anyone else had tried it or if it was just a horrible idea. Nice to know others have tried it and like the results.

BTW, re the liquid, you might try cooking it down into a more concentrated syrup for use as a glaze.

Anonymous said...

I pulled my old dehydrator down the other day and started using it again. We have been playing around with different things for hiking and camping. I had today off so my 11 year old son and I decided to dehydrate some watermelon, cucumbers, and bananas. I still had one tray left and thought can we do mandarin oranges from the can and searched it and came up with your blog. So now a tray of those are also in. My son just bridged over from cub scouts to boy scouts and they go hiking and camping once a month now. So we decided to try to find different things for him to take.
Thanks for your post and I'll let you know later how we like them.
Vickie and Colin

Vickie said...

Hey, Our mandarin oranges didn't turn out. After 14 hours I finally turned them off and went to bed. My dehydrator is old and it's one that only has the on/off button. You can't set a temp on it. I'm hoping to get a new one sometime this summer. Once I get it I'm going to try them again. I might try doing the fruit leathers and seeing how that does. Thanks again for your post.

The Hills said...

Darn, sorry it didn't work out! Having a temperature control really helps...we've had much better success after getting this machine (it was a hand me down). Being able to adjust based on what we're drying makes a big difference. Thanks for visiting!

Anonymous said...

My wife and I recently started adventures in dehydrating stuff and we are going to try dehydrating cranberries and mandarin oranges today. Being frugal ourselves I thought that we would try using the left over orange 'syrup' to make popsisicles!

Anonymous said...

The fruit juices that are left over from drying fruits could be used to flavor lemon lime sodas or iced teas. The could also be used as part of the liquid component of a salad dressings, marinades, or light sauce for meats or fish. You could mix them with powdered sugar as a light flavored icing for cookies or to drizzle over cakes.
I'd also experiment with adding the juices (in small amunts) to cookie and brownie recipes, replacing some of the water with the juice. My husband would simply drink the leftover juice as is.


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