Drying fruit yourself provides a homemade, natural alternative to store-bought potpourri, which may contain artificial fragrances and colors. Fruits such as apples, oranges and lemons, cut into thin slices, may be dried at home, even without a food dehydrator, for a fraction of the cost of packaged dried fruit or potpourri. Select fruit that is fresh enough to eat for best results. Remove stickers and wash each fruit thoroughly before slicing. Organic fruits are the best option since they contain no pesticides or chemicals.
Place the fruit on a cutting board. Cut citrus fruits into slices 1/8- to 1/4-inch thick using a sharp kitchen knife. The thinner the slices, the faster they dry. Pick out the seeds with your fingers or the tip of the knife.
Place the slices on folded paper towels, then blot them with additional paper towels. Removing excess juice cuts down on the drying time.
Set a wire cooling rack atop a cookie sheet. Fruit placed on the cooling rack may drop; the cookie sheet catches the drips.
Open the oven to ensure the stacked cooling rack and cookie sheet fit in at the same time; if not, remove the top oven rack. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees or as low as it allows.
Spread the fruit slices out on the cooling racks, then set the racks, complete with cookie trays, in the oven. Drying citrus takes 4 to 6 hours on average; check the fruit after 4 hours to see if it has shriveled and dried. Turn off the oven once the fruit is dry to your liking; allow it to cool in the oven for additional drying time.
Cut all fruit slices the same thickness so they dry at the same time. Pair dried fruits with other scented materials to create custom potpourri blends; for instance, orange, cinnamon and clove, or lemon and eucalyptus. To dry fruit without wire racks, spread parchment paper on cookie trays and spread the fruit slices out on the parchment paper.
Do not leave your home with the oven on and unattended, even at low temperature.