6 of the Best Ways to Store Oranges and Other Citrus Fruits
Food waste is a major problem in many countries. People waste an estimated 150,000 tons of food in the U.S. With the new year upon us, many have resolved to eat healthier, but those of us buying fruits and vegetables in a bid to do so are some of the biggest culprits when it comes to wasting food. It’s not because we don’t intend on eating it, but rather because we don’t know how to properly store it so it spoils before we have a chance to eat it. To avoid this unnecessary waste and hopefully limit the time we spend at the grocery store replacing it with new fruit, let’s take a look at the best ways to store oranges and other citrus fruits.
1. On the Counter
You can store citrus fruits at room temperature, oranges included. An orange kept on a counter at room temperature usually lasts up to a week, depending on the humidity. Other citrus fruits, like lemons, will not stay fresh at room temperature as long as an orange or a grapefruit, but limes last considerably longer than most other citrus fruits. You can store them all at room temperature, but be aware of how long they last to avoid spoilage.
2. In the Refrigerator
Refrigerators are great at providing a consistent regulated temperature and humidity-controlled environment for just about anything. Storing your oranges in the refrigerator is the best way to keep them fresh for a longer period of time, usually about a month, before they spoil. You can store them in your refrigerator’s vegetable bin, but the oranges must get rotated regularly to increase airflow and reduce the occurrence of soft or moldy oranges. Grapefruits can be stored similarly. Limes and lemons also have a similar lifespan in the refrigerator, but it is best for them to be placed whole in a zip-lock bag.
3. In the Freezer
You can freeze all citrus fruits. Store oranges and grapefruits either whole or quartered inside a zip-lock bag, removing as much air from the bag as possible. When frozen, either one of these fruits will last up to six months. Freezing lemons and limes are a little different. While you can store them in a zip-lock bag in the freezer like oranges and grapefruits, we recommend you cut them into quarters and remove the seeds and membranes before doing so. Limes and lemons last just as long as other citrus fruits in the freezer, but we recommend you use them within three months. The longer you store them, the more bitter they become.
4. Freeing the Juice
Freeing the juice means using the fruit for something other than just eating. This method is a great thing to do if you suspect that the fruit may spoil before being used. Cut open any citrus fruit and squeeze the juice into an ice cube tray. You can then use the juice cubes to add flavoring to meals or drinks or even make them into refreshing popsicles. Frozen orange juice popsicles are a healthy treat on hot days and are a great source of Vitamin C.
Canning is a popular way to store and preserve citrus fruits but is also something many of us avoid thinking it to be a difficult thing to do. In reality, it is quite easy to can citrus fruits, and canned fruits can last two or more years.
- Peel the fruit and remove the membrane and seeds. Remove any white of the fruit that you can. Not only does it do nothing to enhance flavor, but it can add a bitter taste to the finished product.
- While many people use a sugar and water solution with the fruit in the jar, you don’t have to. The syrup solution does nothing to help preserve the fruit – that comes from a properly sealed jar – and the acidity of the fruit prevents anything from growing and spoiling the fruit. Whether you choose to use a syrup solution or just water, be sure to bring it to a boil.
- Pour the boiling water over the fruit in the jars and seal it.
- Place the sealed jars in boiling water for ten minutes. This process is called the water bath and is an important part of preserving the fruit.
A home dehydrator is a wonderful thing and can considerably help you not waste food. If you have a dehydrator, it is an easy and effective way to preserve your citrus fruit. Peel and section the fruit, then place it in the dehydrator in a single layer on the dehydrating tray. Dry it for six to 10 hours. Once dried, the fruit can be vacuum-sealed or put in an airtight jar and stored in a cool dark area. When done properly, dried fruit can last up to a year. Dried fruit can be eaten as-is for a snack, added to meals dry, or rehydrated and added to meals.
We all have good intentions when we grab a bunch of fruit at the grocery store or local market. We don’t buy it with the intent of throwing it out, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. Food gets wasted all the time, whether we mean it to or not, but knowing the best way to store your oranges and other citrus fruits will help to eliminate some of that food waste.