During the winter months, oranges abound, making them well-priced and easily available. These slightly sweet and juicy citrus fruits are popular in desserts and savory dishes and can be prepared in a myriad of ways.
Purchasing oranges out of season can be expensive and the quality of the fruit will likely not be as good.
To make the most of in-season discounts and get the best quality citrus, you may want to preserve oranges in the freezer to enjoy a couple of months down the line.
Although it is generally not recommended to freeze fruit, especially with high water content, oranges can be frozen for future use. Here is everything you need to know when it comes to freezing oranges.
Types of Oranges
True to their name, these round citrus fruits have a thick orange peel with distinct segments of juicy cells on the inside. Depending on the type of orange, the inside segments are orange, light pink, or dark red in color with varying levels of sweetness.
Oranges can be eaten as a nutritious snack, juiced, cooked into sauces, compotes, or jams, added as flavoring to baked goods, and incorporated raw into salads, fruit salads, or platters.
Although generally eaten peeled, the orange rind can be candied, added to baked products, or used as a decorative topping. Orange peel has a noticeably more bitter flavor than the juicy interior.
Can Oranges Be Frozen?
Yes, contrary to what most people may think, oranges can be frozen to prolong their shelf life. Although the texture once frozen will not be as firm as the fresh fruit, freezing oranges does preserve the flavor and quality.
Frozen oranges can be used thawed, raw, cooked, or even straight from the freezer in smoothies and drinks.
How To Freeze Orange Slices
Step 1: Wash and Peel
Rinse the oranges under cold water and peel them removing as much of the white pith as possible.
Step 2: Cut
Cut the peeled oranges into halves, quarters, or slices.
Step 3: Pack
Oranges can be packed as is or with a sugar syrup to better preserve the flavor.
Method 1: Dry Pack
Pack the orange pieces into a resealable freezer bag. Packing them close together will prevent the surface area from being exposed to too much air.
Leave an inch of headspace at the top of the freezer safe bag to accommodate the expansion of the fruit during freezing. Press out any remaining air and seal the bag.
Method 2: Wet Pack
Prepare sugar syrup by boiling together two parts of sugar to three parts of water. Once the sugar is dissolved and boiled, cool the syrup down completely either at room temperature or by placing it into the refrigerator.
Pack the cut orange pieces into a freezer-friendly airtight container or resealable freezer bag. Cover the oranges with the sugar syrup, leaving at least an inch of headspace at the top to allow for the expansion of liquids on freezing.
If using a freezer bag press out any excess air before sealing.
Step 4: Label and Freeze
Make sure freezer bags and containers are well sealed to avoid any unnecessary exposure to air. Label the bag with the date and place it in the freezer.
How To Thaw Frozen Oranges
Frozen orange segments can be defrosted at room temperature fairly quickly if frozen without syrup.
If you are not using the frozen fruit straight away, rather place them in the refrigerator to thaw for a couple of hours so they stay consistently cool. Oranges that have been packed in syrup should be drained before using.
Whole fresh oranges last for 2 to 3 weeks at room temperature, or longer if kept refrigerated. Once sliced, the oranges should be kept refrigerated and will only last up to 2 days.
Oranges will last for up to 6 months in the freezer if protected from contact with air and moisture in airtight freezer bags or containers. Once defrosted, oranges should be used within three days.
Although frozen and thawed oranges will not have the same firm texture as the fresh fruit, they can still be used in a delicious variety of ways. Add the orange segments to a salad or fruit salad, cook it into a syrup, compote, or sauce, enjoy with yogurt, add the juice into batters or frosting, and blend the frozen segments in smoothies or juices.
Yes, you can freeze the zest. Grate or zest the orange peel and place the strands in a freezer bag or small freezer friendly container. It will last up to six months in the freezer
Yes, you can freeze your oranges without removing the peel. These are best used as a garnish or in drinks. When freezing unpeeled orange slices you’ll need to take an extra preparation step.
Cut the whole oranges with peel into rings or semi-circles and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. The pieces should not touch each other. Freeze them for four hours.
Remove the frozen orange slices from the tray and pack them into freezer-safe bags. Press out any excess air, seal, and place it in the freezer.
Yes, you can juice the oranges before freezing and preserve the juice successfully in the freezer. Using either a juicer or hand press, juice the oranges and discard the peels (or zest them first).
Pour the fresh juice into freezer-friendly containers. Leave an inch of space open at the top of the container as the juice will expand on freezing. Close the lid and place it upright in the freezer. Alternatively, freeze the juice in ice cube trays. Once frozen, pop out the blocks and place them in a zip top bag in the freezer.
Oranges that are spoiling will become soft and develop white or light green mold. An off-flavor or odor is also a sign that the oranges should be discarded.
With such high water content one would think twice about freezing oranges, but doing so actually allows you to make the most out of low prices and sweet seasonal produce.
Remove the peel and as much of the pith as possible for convenient use after freezing, whether using the segments frozen or thawed.
As with all frozen items, it is vital to protect the orange segments from contact with air and moisture to preserve a good flavor and quality. Now you can enjoy winter citrus fruit for an extra six months of the year.
Up Next: Can You Freeze Cherries?
*Image by depositphotos.com/Igchchn&AntonMatyukha