freeze oranges

Can You Refrigerate and Freeze Oranges and Orange Juice?

Oranges are bursting with sweet, acidic flavor and packed with loads of vitamin C. What if you bought a bag only to realize that you’re going on holiday in a few days. There’s no way you can finish it. Can you freeze oranges?

Frozen fruits are not very strange in our daily life. We use frozen berries and mangoes for smoothies. But, frozen oranges?

Yes, you can freeze oranges! Many people are surprised knowing that we can actually freeze these citrus fruits.

Keep reading to learn how to freeze oranges and everything else around this topic.

Are Frozen Oranges Good?

Before we go further, you might be doubting whether frozen oranges are as good as fresh ones?

If you’re asking about the nutritional values, they are no less than fresh oranges. (*)

The next concern is quality. Keep in mind that freezing only inhibits bacterial growth that causes spoilage. Freezing doesn’t improve the quality and taste of the fruits. Instead, freezing alters the textures significantly.

Frozen oranges are not as enjoyable to serve on their own compared to fresh ones. However, you can still use frozen oranges for many purposes, such as for salads, smoothies, frozen desserts, baked goods, etc.

Preparing Oranges For Freezing

You can freeze oranges in several ways. No matter which freezing method you choose, you need to prepare the fruits properly.

1. Selecting good quality oranges

To freeze oranges, you need to pick fully ripe and firm oranges. Oranges do not ripen after they are picked up from the trees. Therefore, it is vital to pick oranges at their peak.

The signs of ripe oranges may differ depending on the varieties, mostly indicated with colors, sugar content, acidity, and juice content. It is recommended to check the fruits once in a while to determine if they’re ready to harvest. (*)

If you buy oranges from the market, select oranges that are firm and heavy for their sizes, no spots, and with fine-textured skin. Don’t buy oranges if they have bruises, soft spots, or signs of molds.

Regarding orange varieties, not all freeze equally well. For example, Navel orange doesn’t freeze well since it develops a bitter compound while frozen.

2. Washing oranges

Oranges need to be washed before peeling and cutting to remove any dirt and harmful bacteria.

Wash oranges under running water, scrub the surface gently, and dry with a clean kitchen towel.

3. Choosing the freezing method

You can freeze oranges in multiple ways: as an unsweetened dry pack, unsweetened in other liquid, in syrup, and as juices.

Depending on how you want to use them and your willingness to put the efforts into freezing oranges, you can choose one that fits your situation.

Freezing unsweetened dry pack oranges is the simplest and takes the least effort. But, the result might be of lower quality.

Freezing in syrup preserves the color, flavor, and taste. However, it requires a few extra steps, including preparing the syrup. If you prefer enjoying orange juice, freezing orange juice makes more sense.

Now that you have decided on the freezing method, let’s get down to the step-by-step guideline on how to freeze oranges.

How To Freeze Oranges As Unsweetened Dry Pack

1. Select and wash the oranges (follow the steps above).

2. Peel oranges, remove the white bitter pith and seeds. You can also get rid of the seeds later after thawing.

3. Cut oranges into quarter or slice them to your liking.

4. Pack prepared oranges in a freezer bag.

5. Squeeze the air and seal it.

6. Label the bag with a freezing date.

7. Transfer the package into the freezer.

How To Freeze Oranges In Water, Unsweetened Juices, and Pectin Syrup

1. Select and wash the oranges (follow the steps in the previous section).

2. Peel oranges, remove the white pith. Removing seeds is optional. You can also do it later after thawing.

3. Cut oranges into quarters or slice them.

4. Place prepared oranges in a freezer-safe container.

5. Cover the oranges with either water, juice, or pectin syrup. 

Oranges in pectin syrup retain better texture than when frozen in water or juices. To prepare pectin syrup, mix one package of powdered pectin with one cup of water in a pan, bring to boil, and hold for one minute. Remove the mixture from the heat and add 1 ¾ cup of water or more to get thinner syrup. Let it cool before use.

6. To keep the oranges submerged in the liquid, place a small crumpled waxed paper on top of them.

7. Leave ½ to 1-inch headspace to allow for expansion.

8. Seal tightly and label the container with the freezing date.

9. Transfer the container into the freezer.

How To Freeze Sliced Oranges In Syrup

1. Select and wash the oranges (follow the steps in the previous section).

2. Peel oranges, remove the white pith. Removing seeds is optional. You can also do it later after thawing.

3. Cut oranges into quarters or slices.

4. Prepare a 40% syrup by mixing 2 ¾ cups of sugar with 4 cups of water. Dissolve the sugars in lukewarm water or orange juice. (*)

5. Place prepared oranges in a freezer-safe container.

6. Cover them with the syrup and place a crumpled waxed paper on top to keep the oranges submerged in the syrup.

7. Leave ½ to 1-inch headspace on the surface.

8. Seal tightly and label the container with the freezing date.

9. Place the package in the freezer.

How To Freeze Orange Juice

1. Select and wash the oranges (follow the steps in the previous section).

2. Peel oranges and squeeze the juice with a juicer that doesn’t press oil from the rind. If it does, the juice will taste bitter.

3. Pack the liquid in a freezer-safe glass jar or flash-freeze it in ice cube trays.

The former is straightforward. Meanwhile, the latter requires you to place the juice in ice cube trays, leave them in the freezer for a few hours to freeze, remove the frozen cubes, and pack them in a freezer bag.

4. Seal the package tightly and label it with a freezing date.

5. Transfer to the freezer for future use.

Check your freezer occasionally. Make sure to set the temperature to 0 °F (−18 °C) or lower.


How To Use Frozen Oranges

Frozen oranges can be eaten instantly, but they are less enjoyable than fresh ones. Don’t worry. Frozen oranges can serve many other purposes other than a standalone snack, such as:

–   sprinkle on salad

–   on top of yogurt

–   smoothies, milkshakes, juices, cocktails

–   frozen desserts, such as sorbet

–   cook into jams and marmalade

–   garnish cakes and baked goods

How To Defrost Frozen Oranges

You can thaw frozen oranges slowly in the refrigerator. Alternatively, you can also defrost them in the microwave, particularly if you want to use them for cooking. In most cases, you can use them frozen, for example, for making smoothies.

After thawing, use the oranges within 3 to 4 days and refrigerate them in a sealed container.

How Long Can You Freeze Oranges?

When carefully prepared and frozen, oranges last for 8 to 12 months after freezing. (*)

Freshly squeezed orange juice without pasteurization keeps well for 2 to 3 weeks in the freezer.

After these periods, they can remain safe but might suffer quality loss.


FAQs

Should oranges be refrigerated?

No, you don’t have to refrigerate fresh oranges. But, you can enjoy these healthy fruits longer if you do.  At room temperature, oranges stay fresh up to one week tops. Meanwhile, when appropriately refrigerated, the shelf life extends to 2 to 3 weeks.

Is mold on oranges harmful?

Not all molds are harmful; for example, those used for cheese making. However, some molds cause an allergic reaction and produce poisonous substances called mycotoxins. When it comes to molds on soft fruits with high moisture content, like oranges, contamination can occur below the surface. Therefore, to be on the safe side, you should not consume moldy oranges. (*)

Can expired orange juice make you sick?

Yes. Orange juice has tiny microorganisms that can thrive and multiply when it spoils, and in turn, cause an upset stomach and similar symptoms when ingested.

Summary

Freezing oranges is a workable preservation method to do in the comfort of your home. You can freeze oranges as is, in liquids, syrup, or as juices.

While frozen oranges are not as appealing to eat on their own, you can use them for cold beverages, cocktails, salad, baked goods, jams, etc.

Up next: Does orange juice go bad?

frozen oranges

*Image by depositphotos.com/HandmadePicture

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