My dried orange peel box

Here’s a link to the fantastic British brainy-toys site Grand Illusions that I’ve been hoarding for awhile, hoping to someday reproduce the process and post it as a tutorial. I have tried sun-drying several of the largest orange peels I can find on suitable forms, and shown above is the one functional round box that I have produced. As you can see, it is quite small and ugly compared to these:

Just posted this over at MAKE, but I wanted a dedicated page to show my progress towards reproducing the process so far. The original description mentions that the peels are “squeezed thin” after soaking, but before forming and drying, which is something I haven’t attempted yet. How, I wonder, do you squeeze an intact hemispherical citrus peel into a thin layer without damaging it?

8 comments to My dried orange peel box

  • Maybe you could stretch it over a ball, similar size to the original fruit and then squeeze the peel against the ball to press it? maybe?

  • […] tried sun-drying several of the largest orange peels I can find on suitable forms, and have made one functional round box that is quite small and ugly compared to […]

  • PhilipS

    The Mediterranean custom of making snuffboxes from dried peel is a very old one and is mentioned in several authoritative texts. The oil in the skin continues to flavour snuff for several years and the box itself lasts indefinitely.

    Here is a link showing professionally made Italian tabacchiere from the dried peel of bergamot.

    http://www.bergarte.it/

    Many people will not have access to bergamot but most have access to oranges and these too may be used to make boxes. I’ve made two successful boxes and can testify that they naturally flavour plain snuff with a delicate scent of orange.

    This Spanish site shows how round boxes are made. Hope this helps.

    http://manualidadesdetiempolibre-yaz.blogspot.com/2011/04/muy-buena-cajas-con-cascara-de-naranja.html

  • This is good.
    I know the friend who is making such a bowl.
    from Japan.

  • Anonymous

    “How, I wonder, do you squeeze an intact hemispherical citrus peel into a thin layer without damaging it?” … in a press?

  • PhilipS

    In Reggio Calabria in Italy snuff boxes and flasks are still made from cured bergamot peel and may be bought online. Their site and several others are listed on the following thread. While this is in English all the links off that thread are in Italian or Spanish. Have a look at the professionally made boxes from Italy and then the view the DIY Spanish sites.

    http://snuffhouse.org/discussion/5098/making-italian-style-tabacchiere-snuffboxes

    Briefly – the peel is soaked in a hot solution of baking soda (so that the pith will not crack as it dries) and then stretched overnight to make the it pliable before inversion. Because these are snuff boxes the orange is bisected from pole to pole. Trimming away the weak points caused by the stem greatly minimises the risk of tearing when turning inside out.

    Finding suitable moulds too ensure a tight fit is not easy. However if you use a large thick skinned orange (so that there is plenty of pith to sand down to a smooth finish) and two 25 gram snuff tins from Wilsons of Sharrow and Samuel Gawith as moulds, you have all that’s needed for a lid and base that fit perfectly.

  • Carolyn

    I think this is so neat ! I’m always trying something new & different . Amd this is soooo different !!!