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This isn't a rocket science project. It can be fun. It can be a date night. It can be the beginning of creative blood flow. We make it easy as our packages are always ready to go the moment you grab a garnish. The 13-18 hour drying time is why you don't often do this yourself.
What goes into dehydrating your own cocktail garnish though? Square away a little prep time for your oranges, limes, and lemons. These are the easiest fruits to begin learning with.
Your stove will need to go on an extremely low setting - not all do. We want to see about 140 degrees Fahrenheit to complete a decent dehydration, if it goes higher you may have to throttle the oven by opening it on occasion to let heat and humidity out. If your lowest temperature on the oven is above 160 you may want to use lemon juice on the fruit to aid in prevention of burning the fruit completely. This may be acceptable for the lemons and limes - but no one wants a brown orange.
We prefer to thin slice our garnishes, something about a thin weightless disk sitting on your drink that automates your pinky out perception, and your guests too. Try using a mandolin if you have one at your disposal to create a consistent cut. This will allow the fruit to dry evenly. No Mando? Be careful with your fingers and take your time slicing on a cutting board with a sharp knife.
If your fruit is overly ripe it will be harder to deliver a thin sliced fruit while preserving the integrity of the pulp. You'll find it will nearly fall apart on the inside. These go right into our trash bins in the lab!
Take all of these slices and either place them on the wire rack on a baking sheet or on the wax paper directly. Wax paper can burn on higher temperatures as opposed to parchment paper - but wax paper should be find at such a low temperature.
All ovens aren't created equal. You may have a warm setting on your oven and if you do you're good to go. If you have a temperature control you're going to want to go as low as it will let you. Ideally we'd like a lower temperature than 150 to do the drying for 13-16 hours depending, but you may have a shorter time at higher heat. Monitor your dehydrated oranges, limes, and lemons to make sure they aren't burning too quickly. Rotate your pans as heat areas are uneven in the oven. Flip your fruit a few times throughout the drying process so it doesn't stick, and that it dries evenly.
Same with lemon and lime - your orange isn't much different. Look for the fruit to no longer be sticky to touch. While it's hot it may be hard to tell... take one out and let it cool for a second and then check the pulp. It should be crisp and sound like a potato chip when it hits the countertop.