DIY: A Dried Fruit Garland for the Holidays

For insight into how I turned out the way I did, consider the year that my mother declared that we’d have an “18th-century Christmas.” While our friends asked Santa for American Girl dolls, Adidas Samba sneakers, and fluorescent-haired trolls, my sisters and I were left to scratch out lists that included wishes for wool mittens and scarves. The guideline was that all the gifts had to be homemade, or at the least, something that children in the 18th century might have received. It took some convincing to get us onboard.

On Christmas morning, our stockings hung heavy with oranges and walnuts and beeswax candles. We all did our best to look amused.

Read on for step-by-step instructions to make your own dried fruit garland for the holidays:

Photography by Erin Boyle.

Above: Despite my lack of enthusiasm for my mom’s scheme at the time, to this day I have a soft spot for anything that smacks of, well, an 18th-century Christmas. I made this dried fruit garland to deck my halls.

In case there’s a historian in the crowd, it should be noted that the history of decorating wreaths and garlands with dried fruit dates from the early 20th century and the height of the Colonial Revival era, and not from the Colonial period itself. The thought of sacrificing an orange for décor would have been unthinkable to the colonists. …Details.

Here’s what you’ll need:

1. Choose a variety brightly colored apples, pears, and oranges.

Above: The colored peels will make the garland more beautiful.

Step 2: Slice fruit into 1/4-inch slices.

Above: Slice through the center of the fruit. Prepare to sacrifice your first few fruits (make fruit salad from the duds!) because it takes a bit of practice to get a clean cut.

3. Place sliced fruit on a cookie rack on top of a cookie sheet.

Above: Elevating the fruit on a rack allows air to circulate to help fruit to dry evenly.

4. Bake at 150 degrees for from five to six hours.

Above: Yes, you read that right. This is a project for a lazy (and chilly) afternoon at home. The next time I make a garland, I might try air drying the fruit (See Justine’s Dried Vegetables to see how).

5: When the fruit is visibly dried, remove from the oven.

Above: Allow fruit to cool before proceeding.

6: Use an upholstery needle to thread the dried fruit onto thin twine.

Above: You can also add walnuts or cinnamon sticks to the garland.

7. If you include walnuts or cinnamon sticks, use a hammer.

Above: With a hammer, gently tap the top of the needle through the top of the hard surfaces of the nuts and spices.

8. Hang the garland in a sunny spot to enjoy all season.

Above: The dried fruit looks particularly pretty with sunlight coming through the slices.

See more ways to add edible plants and garden flowers you your holiday decor:

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