We don’t often freeze fresh fruit. But if you’ve got a bunch of oranges you don’t want to waste, you’ve probably wondered before: can you freeze oranges?
If like me, you often buy the fruit by the bag instead of thinking about how much you need, sooner or later you will end up with more oranges than you can use. Then you start looking for ways to preserve these citrus fruits.
Freezing is one of the easiest and most popular preservation methods. And that’s why it’s the first one you examined.
So, without further ado, let’s talk about if and when freezing oranges actually makes sense.
Can you freeze oranges?
I have good news and bad news for you.
The good news is that you can freeze oranges and there are many ways to use them.
The bad news is that not all types of oranges freeze well, and the quality of the fruit isn’t quite the same after it’s thawed.
let me explain.
The first thing you should know is that freezing navel oranges is a bad idea, according to the University of California Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources ( UC ). Here is her explanation:
Belly button oranges don’t freeze well. A very bitter compound called limonine develops in oranges when they are frozen. This compound is found in higher concentrations in navel oranges, making them a poor choice for freezing whole oranges or for juicing.
In short, if you have a bunch of navel oranges, freezing them probably isn’t such a good idea.
When it comes to the quality not being great after defrosting, you already know that, right? Normally we only reserve frozen fruit for certain dishes, such as smoothies, salads or baked goods. They just aren’t as great for consumption on their own as fresh fruit.
The same principle applies to the oranges you want to freeze.
Okay, now that you know all of the possible cons, you’re ready to freeze this citrus.
Read Also: Can you freeze garlic?
How to freeze oranges
Below I describe the dry-pack method of freezing that requires the least amount of hands-on time and eliminates the use of sweeteners.
Basically, it’s a lazy (or busy) man’s way of freezing oranges, with the added benefit of not using any added sugar.
There are other methods as well, such as sugar syrup ( NCHFP ) or pectin syrup ( UC) packaging. These are great for people who like to spend a lot of time preserving their food. I don’t, and if you’re reading this, I don’t think you are either.
Anyway, if you want to read more about these methods, you can find the links in the sources at the end of the article.
Now let’s go through the step-by-step process of freezing oranges using the dry pack method.
- Peel the oranges. Remove as much marrow from the marrow as you normally do.
- Divide into sections or segments. Choose the option that suits you. The NCHFP suggests removing all membranes and seeds at this point, but I don’t think this is necessary. You’re welcome to do so if you want to play with your knife for a few more minutes though.
- Pack the sections in a freezer bag. Remove the air and seal it. Add a label if you like.
- Freeze. Place the package in the freezer.
If you skip cutting off the membranes and don’t remove the white pith very thoroughly (like I did), this whole process takes about 5 minutes for two oranges.
When you freeze oranges this way, the sections or segments freeze together . Luckily, you should be able to rip off a piece or two if needed (I was).
If you prefer the segments not to clump together, you’ll need to prefreeze (or open freeze) them first. How to do it:
- Prepare a cookie sheet. Line it with parchment paper or a silicone mat to keep the fruit from sticking to it. You can use the cookie sheet without any kind of cover, but removing the orange segments from the sheet might be tricky.
- Place all segments in a single layer.
- Freeze until the pieces are firm. This usually takes a few hours, or you can do it overnight.
- Transfer the frozen segments into a freezer bag and back into the freezer.
If you don’t mind freezing oranges, you can juice them and freeze the orange juice instead!
How to thaw frozen oranges
When it comes to thawing, it’s best to only thaw as many sections or segments as you need at the moment. That’s why we don’t freeze the oranges whole after peeling.
There are several ways to thaw frozen oranges. Choose the one that makes the most sense for what you are preparing:
- In the refrigerator. Slow thawing is best for quality and takes two to four hours, depending on whether you divided the oranges into sections or individual segments.
- On the counter. If you’re making a fruit salad, remove the required segments from the freezer 40 minutes to an hour before you begin. They should be ready when you need them.
- Throw them in frozen. There are at least a few instances where you don’t need to thaw the oranges. You can add a frozen orange segment or two to a glass of water on a hot day, or use frozen orange chunks instead of ice cubes in your smoothie (make sure your blender can crush them first).
How to use frozen and thawed oranges
Eating frozen and thawed oranges as is fine (for me at least), but definitely not as good as a fresh one. Instead, here are a few ways you can use them:
- smoothie Smoothies are probably the most popular way to use frozen fruit. If you’re looking to blend foods and veggies into one nutritious drink, these frozen oranges will have you using them in no time.
- cakes and baked goods. If a recipe calls for oranges to be pureed, thawed oranges should work just as well as fresh ones.
- fruit salads. When preparing a fruit salad, remember that the oranges aren’t the star of the salad, just the sidekick. The majority of the salad should consist of fresh ingredients.
If you’re wondering if your thawed oranges will work in a recipe, ask yourself this question: does the dish’s success depend on the oranges being juicy, firm, and fragrant? If so, you’re better off with fresh oranges. If not, use frozen and thawed oranges.