Can you freeze oranges? Regardless of your reason for buying in bulk, an easy way to preserve oranges for use later is by freezing them.
Oranges are not always in season, so when they are available, you may want to buy a few extras to eat later. It also makes good sense to buy extra oranges whenever you visit an area where they are grown because you can find fruit that is fresher and tastier.
You might also want to stockpile oranges if you find them on sale or live some distance from the grocery store.
Many people are surprised to discover they can actually freeze oranges for use later. While freezing oranges will preserve them, the texture will nonetheless be affected. As such, frozen oranges should only be used in smoothies, sherbet or juices.
Below is a general guideline on how to prepare the oranges for freezing:
Preparing the Oranges
To prepare oranges for freezing, wash them lightly under cold running water and then pat them dry with paper towels. Do not use any soap or chemical-based cleaners, as this will leave a residue behind that could affect the taste and texture of your oranges.
After washing, slice your oranges into circular rounds, or remove the outer peeling and separate into sections. Circular slices are ideal for garnishes. Peeled sections are preferred if you plan to use your frozen oranges to create other dishes with.
Sterilizing The Containers
Next, thoroughly wash canning jars or plastic food storage containers in hot soapy water to ensure they are clean. If you are using canning jars, you should also boil the lids for approximately five minutes as well.
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Below are the two common techniques on preserving oranges prior to freezing:
Dry Pack Method
The dry pack method involves placing orange slices or sections as tightly as you can. This prevents air from getting into them, thereby preserving as much of their taste as possible.
Continue stuffing oranges into the container until you are approximately 1/4 to 1/2 inch from the top. This allows room for the oranges to expand as they freeze. After filling your containers, place the appropriate lid on them, and then mark the date and contents on the top with a marker.
Oranges can also be frozen in syrup, and doing so allows them to retain more of their texture and flavor. This step does take a bit longer, as it requires you to make a syrup ahead of time and allow it to cool in the refrigerator. That way, when you pour it over top of your oranges, it will speed the freezing process.
To prepare syrup, boil a mixture of two parts sugar and three parts water together, and then place in the refrigerator for at least four hours.
When you are ready to freeze your oranges, place sections loosely inside your canning jars. Pour syrup over top of the oranges until they are completely covered, leaving a space of around ¾ inch at the top to allow both the syrup and the oranges to expand.
Place lids on your jars and tighten them down as much as possible by hand. Mark the lid with oranges and the date they were packed.
Image used under Creative Commons from José Luis Sánchez Mesa
To thaw frozen oranges, simply remove them from the freezer and allow them to defrost at room temperature for four to six hours. If you have packed your oranges in syrup, you should drain and rinse them before using them for other purposes.
Thawed oranges should be used as soon as possible in order to get the most enjoyment out of their flavor. Ideally, oranges that have previously been frozen should be consumed within three to four days. Freezing oranges will allow you to enjoy them for up to six months after purchase.
The next time you come across a great deal on oranges, don’t pass it up. Buy a few extras and freeze them using one of the above methods to ensure you are able to enjoy this delicious fruit when it might not otherwise be available.