wide closeup of whole dried limes piled in a vintage brass bowl

How to Dry Limes and Ideas to Use Your Dehydrated Limes

Dehydrated limes and other citrus fruits are great decor accents and limes are my favorite. Especially when you dry the limes whole. It’s all right here!

Are you intrigued by dried citrus fruit, too?

True confession, I’ve never used dried fruit as part of my Christmas decor. I’ve seen it done with dehydrated citrus slices, particularly as part of a farmhouse or homespun Christmas along with cranberries, cinnamon sticks,  popcorn garland and salt dough ornaments. 

Homespun is charming, just not my style.

But recently, whole dried limes caught my eye.

pile of dried split limes and greens withh a pinecone

Something about the symmetry of the cut slits and the white lines with a bit of peek-a-boo resonated with me. And I just had to give it a try. 

Aren’t these above gorgeous? Picture is courtesy of Gathering Garden.

I was so intrigued that dehydrated whole limes became the inspiration for the styling of a Pie Party I recently shared. But to go best with the plates I had selected I wanted a deeper more golden green. Perfect!

closeup of dried whole limes in a wood dough bowl with dried hydrangeas

How to Dehydrate Whole Limes in an Air Fryer

Honestly, the easiest way to dry fresh fruit is to use a dehydrator. However, you do NOT need fancy equipment dedicated to the process. When we down-sized five years ago, Things that took up a lot of room to store, but only did one thing, even though they are really good at it, had to go. 

If you have a dehydrator, do a happy dance and know you can do a large batch in less time than I can using my oven or air fryer. Yet I can still dehydrate various fruits — it just takes a bit more involvement on my end.

It is really a super simple process. Depending on your available appliance and the thickness of your slices or if you are drying whole limes, it can take a significant amount of time, but very little of that time requires your involvement.

The same three simple steps are all it takes whether you are oven drying, using a dehydrator or an air fryer. 

Step 1) Wash & Dry Thoroughly-

Just as you would any fruit that you would eat. Plus you want to remove any wax that might be on your fruit.

And yes, it’s important to make sure they are dry. The goal is to get rid of the moisture so don’t sabotage the drying process by adding any extra moisture in.

Step 2) Cut Slits in Whole Fruit or Thin Slices-​

Reminder: a sharp knife is actually safer than a dull knife. Make sure you have a good sharp knife.

Dehydrated Lime Slices-

woman's hands showing slicing a fresh lime on a mandolin slicer

closeup of woman's fingertips holding up three thinly sliced lime slices

I strongly suggest using a mandolin slicer. Not only is it faster, but your slices will be all the same thickness. 

If you do not have a mandolin slicer, a sharp chef’s knife works. 

When drying lime slices, not whole limes, I start by cutting off just the tip of the fresh limes (or lemons) where they grew from a stem. Because you’ll want to also dehydrate the ends and use them to make lime powder — more about that below. 

That little stem stubble will be much harder to cut away once it’s dried and you don’t want it in your lime powder. 

It doesn’t add any time to the drying process and a batch of lime powder is such a bonus, why wouldn’t you dry the ends for some?

When cutting your slices, keep in mind the thickness of the lime slices will determine the drying time required.

TIP: Just like we made sure the outside was dry, laying the slices on a paper towel as you cut them is a great way to remove a bit of moisture before you start the drying process. I also blot the top gently as I place them out to dry.

Dehydrated Whole Limes-

Back to a sharp chef’s knife. But this time, you are only cutting through the skin and pith, not all the way through the lime.

Cut a slit just shy of the two poles of the lime. Rotate the lime so that first cut is the bottom most point resting on your cutting surface. Now make a second cut stopping short of the poles as you did before. 

Now you should have a lime with two cuts exactly opposite each other. Add two more cuts at the halfway points between those. So your lime’s cuts will be spaced at four even quarters.

Now add another cut at the center point of each of the quarters. 

woman's hands holding a slitting a lime on a rubbery cutting mat

TIP: To help keep the limes steady, place a couple of layers of kitchen towel or silicone potholder under it.

Those slits need to be all the way through the skin and white to the meat. You may need to use the tip of the blade towards the end of the slitts to make sure you have them cut through.

Step 3) Process-

Arrange your whole limes or slices, or citrus wheels as they are often called, in a single layer on:

  • your dehydrator tray or trays
  • your air fryer basket
  • on a baking sheet, a perforated pizza pan or a cooling rack turned upside down

For large batches, I use my oven set to convection mode. I prefer to use my cooling racks turned upside down with my thin wheels spread out, sometimes on parchment paper, sometimes, not (it didn’t seem to be a problem when I ran out once). I have also used parchment paper on my oven rack.

Despite what you might read elsewhere, I don’t like to use baking sheets, because the air can’t circulate to the underside of the sliced fruit. So this means it will take longer and require more of my intervention to turn the slices every hour or so for even drying.

The next best option to cooling racks, would be a perforated pizza tin.

And yes, baking sheets will certainly work in a pinch. Just watch and turn frequently.

Dehydrating Details — Temp, Time and Storage

What Temperatures-

  • Oven, set at lowest available, which might be 150, 135 or 120. Use convection mode if you have it.
  • Air fryer, which is really a small countertop convection oven, set as low as possible. My air fryer (Instant Pot 6 qt) has a dehydrate mode which defaults to 130 degrees Fahrenheit, but it allowed me to reset it to 120.
  • Dehydrator, follow your manufacturer’s guidelines for fruit

If you want to maintain the bright citrus colors of your fresh fruit, it is important to use the lowest temperature possible. A higher temperature, will result in the sugars in the fruit caramelizing and turning brownish in color. 

If you are drying fruit for flavor, don’t worry if they brown up a bit. They will still have that fresh lime burst and taste great. This is just a visual consideration.

That said, if you are drying fruit purely for decor and visual charm, watch them carefully and keep the temperature low.

closeup of placecard held in a slit of a dried lime resting on a plate

For my Pie Party, I had found some great dessert plates at Hobby Lobby that are mostly browns, deep russet and golds. There is a bit of dark green that I wanted to pull out, so I wanted my limes to turn to the deep golden green tones. They did just that perfectly!

How Much Time-

This is a tough one. I can’t give you a specific amount because there are so many variables involved.

Let’s talk about how to know when they are done drying and then we’ll talk general guidelines.

The easy way to know that your dehydrated citrus wheels are done is by touching the meat with your fingertip. If it is no longer sticky and it is crunchy, they are done. They are ready to be used in your decorating and crafting ideas. 

If you want to save them for later use, save them in an airtight container at room temperature. However, you must make sure they are truly dry before sealing them up or they may spoil. 

An easy way to do this is to leave most of them out, exposed to the air. Seal a few in an airtight mason jar. Watch this jar to see if the inside becomes foggy or any moisture starts to form. If it does, throw those out and process the reserved ones longer.

The good news, is that you really can’t over dry them if you want them for flavoring. They may look brown, but the flavor is still great.

General Guidelines-

  • lime slices (lemons and oranges seem to take longer) — 
    • in a dehydrator, 8 – 12 hours
    • in an oven, convection mode – 3 – 4 hours
    • in an air fryer, 6 – 8 hours
  • whole limes
    • in dehydrator, minimum 12 hours and then go from there
    • in oven, convection mode, plan on 10 – 12 hours and then add more time as needed
    • in air fryer, mine were in for 2 passes of 12 hours each.

If they feel sticky or spongy, they need more time.

What to Do With Dehydrated Limes

For Decor

Place Cards Holders-

closeup of placecard held in a slit of a dried lime resting on a plate

Whole dried limes make great holders for placecards.

Buffet Food ID Card Holders-

Eggnog custanrd pie with a slice taken out of it with an id card in a lime holder next to it

And just like place cards, they are a great option for holding food ID cards for a buffet

Make Ornaments-

a dried orange slice is hung on a flocked Christmas tree with white lights all around

My friend Cindy {Reinvented Delaware] shared this picture. She kept hers simple with a twine loop threaded around the rind. I love how the tree lights glow through it — almost like stained glass windows.

Embellish a Garland-

closeup of dired limes hanging with the signs on the Let Us Eat Pie garland

Both whole limes and slices are a great choice for garlands. This one showcases old world in deep colors, touch of metallic gold and velvet ribbon. I jusst used a straight pin hidden in each knot to secure a loop to the top of each slit lime.

garland of dried orange slices and red berries on twine is suspended on chicken wire frames

As a counterpoint, this is also from Cindy. Here she used dehydrated orange slices and faux red berries on a length of twine. And her secret? It’s all done with her trusty hot glue gun.

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Embellish a Wreath-

half a magnolia leaf wreath with clusters of orange and pink grapefruit dried slices

Bright citrus slices look wonderful against the dark green of many wreaths, like this example from my friend Wendy [WM Design House]. Isn’t that fresh and modern?

Embellish a Gift-

​A slice tied on with bakers string is the perfect way to top a gift off nome baked goodies for the neighbors

Fill Apothecary Jars-

Bright and festive and they let the light shine through

Bowl Filler-

closeup of dried whole limes in a wood dough bowl with rusted bell and dried hydrangeas

Interesting textures make great bowl fillers and dehydrated fruit certainly has great texture.

Potpourri-

Pretty interesting textures with gentle aromas. Yes, that’s the perfect place for dried fruit

Simmering Pot-

Whether you use a crock pot or a pot on the stove, when simmering dried fruit with additional spices your home’s cozy factor instantly jumps to the next level. Yes, please!!!

Christmas Gifts-

Wouldn’t a cellophane bag with a handful of slices along with a small little shaker bottle of Lime Powder make a thoughtful gift? (the Lime Powder is just below)

Fun and delicious with the extra bonus of gluten-free, fat-free, dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, even virtually calorie-free. [all the “free’s”].

Include your favorite simmering pot recipe, or instructions for making infused water, and suggestions for adding flavor with lime powder.

For Food & Beverages-

Lime and Citrus Powders-

  • Add to dry rubs, think chipotle lime for one!!! 
  • Add to sugar or salt for cocktail rims
  • Make limeade
  • Add to savory dishes that need a bit of brightening
  • Flavor whipped cream
  • Sprinkle just a tiny pinch on a fresh salad – wow!

Beverages

  • Fruit Infused Water- add a couple of slices to your water bottle, what a difference!
  • Add a combination of lime slices and dried cherries to a water dispenser for your next get together

Garnish and More-

  • Citrus peel garnish for cocktails
  • Add slices to your Christmas or Easter ham

How to Make Citrus Powder

I use the ends and smaller slices of dried limes, not whole limes. Once they are dry and have cooled to room temperature, drop them in a food processor or spice grinder. Pulse for a couple of minutes until all the larger chunks are small and then let it run for a couple of minutes.

Let the dust settle and then open!

If it looks like it needs more processing, grind for another minute and check again.

Once your citrus is a nice powder, pour it through a fine sieve into an airtight jar. Label and enjoy! No need to refrigerate. Just keep in a a cool dark spot. It can be frozen and will then last indefinitely.

Love the Idea Of Dried Fruit, But Not DIY?

pile of dried split limes and greens withh a pinecone

No worries, jump right over to one of my very favorite shops on Etsy.

And more Etsy shops offering dried fruit of every variety.

Graphic that says "Pin it to Remember it!" with arrows pointing to the pin
bowl of dried limes, a rusty bell and dried hydrangeas. is under a Pin Title: How To Dried Limes

Whether you pluck limes off your own backyard lime tree or you grab a bag at the grocery store, drying the fruit yourself is such an easy and fun way to bring them to your decorating and more.

Please know that I often use affiliate links when suggesting products to you. I will never suggest a product to you just because it is an affiliate link. But using affiliate links does help my small business continue to make great content and provide it to you free of charge. I sincerely appreciate every time someone uses one of my links before buying something on line.

Let’s have the most joy-filled holiday season, ever!

round image of Diane smiling next to a Signature that reads: With Joy, Diane

4 Comments

  1. Lynn

    I had never seen dried whole limes before. They are so cool and perfect as place card holders. Such a fun idea

    Reply
    • Diane

      Thanks Lynn! I don’t even remember where I saw that first image, but they’ve been seared in my brain ever since.

      Reply
  2. Wendy McMonigle

    Your limes are beautiful Diane! Love all of these beautiful ideas. I am all about the citrus for the holidays. Thanks for the mention.

    Reply
  3. Abdus Salam

    “Your words resonate deeply; they add a thoughtful layer to my day.”

    Reply

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