Food storage tips: How to extend the shelf life of oranges
08/27/2021 / By Rose Lidell / Comments
Food storage tips: How to extend the shelf life of oranges

It can be difficult to stock up on fresh fruits because they might spoil in your pantry, but oranges have peels that help them last longer than other fruits in storage. If you’re worried about oranges going bad in your fridge or kitchen, read up below on how to further extend their shelf life.

The shelf life of oranges will depend on how you store them, i.e., if you store them at room temperature, refrigerate them, cook them or can them.

If you have orange trees, one of the best ways to keep the fruits fresh for as long as possible is to leave them on the trees. Pick oranges only as needed. Oranges will fall on their own once they are overripe and have developed a soft texture.

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What’s the shelf life of oranges stored at room temperature?

Oranges stored at room temperature on your kitchen counter will stay fresh for at least two to three weeks.

Moisture is usually the main reason why mold develops on orange peels. Mold can gradually eat its way to the center of the fruit. If you live in a humid area, refrain from leaving oranges on your kitchen counter to prevent mold and spoilage.

What’s the shelf life of oranges stored in the fridge?

Refrigerated oranges will last for one to two months. But once cut, oranges should be consumed quickly since they will only last for two to three days in the fridge.

Note that bruises on the peel can make oranges rot. Even if you refrigerate those oranges, mold will eventually start to appear. Store oranges in an airtight container to protect them from moisture and other contaminants.

What’s the shelf life of oranges stored in the freezer?

Oranges sliced into wedges and stored in the freezer can last up to one year. You can also cover sliced oranges in honey or sugar and place them in airtight containers to help them retain their sweetness in the freezer.

Note that whole or cut frozen navel oranges will taste bitter when frozen, so eat them immediately.

What’s the shelf life of cooked oranges stored in the fridge?

Cooked oranges will last for about three to four days in the fridge.

How to prepare oranges and extend their shelf life

Here are different ways to prepare oranges to extend their shelf life.

Make orange marmalade

Try the recipe below for homemade orange marmalade.

Ingredients for 3 pints:

  • 5 pounds of ripe oranges
  • 4 cups of water
  • 6 cups of sugar

Preparation:

  1. Wash and dry the oranges.
  2. Use a sharp vegetable peeler or paring knife to remove the zest from the oranges. Leave all of the white pith underneath, which is very bitter.
  3. Chop the zest and set the bigger pieces aside for a chunkier marmalade. Cut them into ribbon-like strips if you want a more spreadable marmalade. Set the zest aside.
  4. Cut the ends off the zested oranges. Work with one orange at a time and cut off the thick white pith from around each orange. Discard the ends and white pith.
  5. Work over a bowl to catch the juices. Hold a fully peeled orange then use a sharp knife to cut out each segment between the membranes that hold all sections together.
  6. After you cut out all the fruit, squeeze any juice from the membranes into the bowl of segmented fruit. Set the membrane and seeds aside since they contain pectin that will help “set” the marmalade later.
  7. Combine the zest, fruit, juice, water and sugar in a large, heavy pot. Bring to a boil and stir until the sugar dissolves.
  8. Place a double layer of cheesecloth in a medium bowl then put the membranes and seeds on top. Lift up the corners then tie the cheesecloth into a makeshift bag to hold the membranes and seeds.
  9. Add the pectin “bag” to the pot then bring the mixture to a boil. Place a couple of small plates in the freezer to chill.
  10. Bring the marmalade to 220 F and leave it there for five minutes. Be patient and don’t stir the mixture.
  11. Put a dollop of the mixture on a chilled plate. Swirl the plate to spread the mixture a bit, then drag a spoon through the mixture. If the marmalade is set, the spoon will leave a trail and you can see the plate under the mixture where you dragged the spoon.
  12. Remove the pectin bag and squeeze any marmalade out and back into the pot. Discard the bag.
  13. Take the marmalade off the heat and set it aside for five minutes. Prepare three clean pint jars with sealable lids next to the pot. If canning, the jars must be hot and sterilized.
  14. Stir the marmalade to distribute the zest evenly into the mixture.
  15. Use a ladle to transfer the marmalade into the jars. Leave 1/2 inch of headspace at the top of each jar.
  16. Put the lids on the jars and refrigerate or proceed with canning.

Canning oranges

To can oranges, you need the fruit juice and flesh.

Ingredients for a full canner bath of 7 quarts:

  • 15 pounds of oranges, peeled and membranes removed
  • 10 1/2 cups of water
  • 1 1/4 cups of sugar

Preparation:

  1. Peel the oranges and remove as much of the white membrane as possible. Divide the oranges into sections. You can use very small clementines and tangerines whole.
  2. Pack the oranges tightly into canning jars and leave at least half an inch of headspace.
  3. Bring the water and sugar to a boil in a saucepan, then stir to dissolve the sugar.
  4. Pour the boiling sugar syrup over the oranges and leave half an inch of headspace. Seal with two-part canning lids.
  5. Process pints and quarts in a water bath canner for 10 minutes below 1,000 feet (or 15 minutes up to 6,000 feet) in elevation.

Drying oranges

Make dried oranges using a dehydrator or oven.

Sweetened dried orange slices

Ingredients for 15 slices:

  • 2 large blood oranges, thinly sliced (You can also use navel oranges.)
  • 1/4 cup of coconut sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • A pinch of ground ginger
  • A dash of sea salt

Preparation:

  1. Preheat your oven to 200 F (93.3 C).
  2. Wash and dry the oranges. Cut them into very thin slices. Lay the sliced oranges flat on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  3. Mix the spices and sugar in a small bowl. Sprinkle the spice mix evenly over the orange slices.
  4. Dry the spiced orange slices in the oven at 200 F for two and a half to three hours. If the orange slices are thick, they will take longer to dry.
  5. After removing the orange slices from the oven, add more spices or sugar.
  6. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. The dried oranges will last for seven to 10 days before they become too chewy.

Determining if oranges have gone bad

Watch out for the following signs to determine if your oranges have gone bad:

  • Discolored, wilted skin – Oranges start to rot when they are overripe. Orange skin will dry up and wilt, often displaying dark brown or black spots on the peel.
  • Shrunken appearance – Shriveled-up oranges should be discarded.
  • Strong odor – Oranges will develop a fermented odor once they go bad.
  • Blackened, gel-like flesh – Spoiled oranges will feel soft and spongy.

Whatever cooking and storage method you use to extend the shelf life of oranges, it’s best to follow proper food preservation techniques. Use your best judgment when trying to determine if oranges have gone bad and are no longer safe to eat.

Sources:

GardenerThumb.com

TheSpruceEats.com

PracticalSelfReliance.com

CotterCrunch.com

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