Oranges are a perishable food item, so when we stock up, it’s not uncommon to find ourselves wondering how long the fruit will stay good for. Sounds familiar? Then this post is for you. We have explored oranges’ lifespan and storage in depth so that the next time you come across a huge basket, you won’t pass it up. Keep reading.
Do Oranges Go Bad?
Oranges are fresh fruit, so yes, they definitely do go bad. In fact, oranges start to deteriorate as soon as they are picked from the tree. Those at the grocery store, for instance, will have a slightly shorter lifespan than the ones picked straight from the garden because they have already spent a little bit of time on display.
Proper storage can keep the citrus from spoiling quickly. A good option would be to store your oranges in the refrigerator. Sure, they may not be as juicy in the end but the cool temperature will certainly extend their shelf life. If you plan on consuming the fruit within a couple days, you can leave it in the pantry or just let it sit out in the fruit basket.
How Long Do Oranges Last?
There are many factors that influence the shelf life of oranges including quality, variety, how long the fruit was stored before it made it to the shelf, and how much time it had spent on display before it was bought, to name a few.
But ideally, whole oranges will last anywhere between ten days to two weeks at room temperature and about three weeks to a month in the refrigerator. If the fruit is peeled or chopped, then it will last only two to three days. And because cut oranges dry out quite fast, they should always be kept in the fridge.
To help your oranges last the longest, make sure to pick the ones that appear the healthiest. Such fruit will be firm and heavy, with fine-textured skin. It will also be free of soft spots, cuts, or scars. Some fruit may have bruises on the peel as a result of brushing against the tree when young, but surface flaws shouldn’t worry you, as they usually don’t affect the fruit quality.
Below is a summarized version of oranges’ shelf life.
|Oranges (Whole or Peeled)||Lifespan|
|Whole oranges||10 to 14 days||3 to 4 weeks|
|Peeled/chopped oranges||Not recommended||2 to 3 days|
4 Tips to Tell if Oranges Have Gone Bad
You can easily find out if your oranges have spoiled just by the way they look or smell, although sometimes you may have to taste the fruit. When picking or purchasing oranges, be sure to carefully inspect them so you don’t end up with bad ones, to begin with. Below are some attributes of oranges that have gone bad.
1. Change in Appearance
Take a good look at your oranges. If they are starting to brown or develop some mushy spots, or if the rind seems to be shriveling, then the fruit is beginning to rot.
Depending on the extent of spoilage, you may also notice white or gray mold on the peel. If the orange is peeled or sliced, the color of the mold will likely be green. Regardless, such oranges must be tossed out.
Sometimes you may see small scars on the peel. As we mentioned, bruised skin doesn’t always mean the fruit is bad. The citrus was just probably scraped by the tree and so long as this scarring didn’t reach the inside of the fruit, it should not be a concern. That orange is still healthy.
2. Soft Spots
Pick up your oranges, one at a time, and squeeze them gently. If fresh, they will be firm and dense; if not, you will notice soft mushy areas and that’s a sign the fruit is not good to ingest. Sometimes, you will even see mold on the skin or juices oozing out depending on how long the citrus has been left rotting.
3. Foul Odor
Fresh oranges will usually have a healthy citrus smell. When they start to rot, however, the odor may get moldy and unpleasant. The bad scent may be just on the outside but that doesn’t mean the inside is any better. You should discard such oranges right away.
4. Awful Taste
If the oranges look, feel, and smell okay but you are still not sure whether they are good to eat, go ahead and taste them. Really, a small bite won’t harm you. If they taste sour or fermented, throw them out.
5 Tips to Store Oranges
Oranges don’t have a very long shelf life. But if you know how to store them correctly, you can prolong their lifespan and boost the flavor of recipes that require them. Use these tricks to keep your citrus juicy and flavorful the longest.
1. Keep Oranges Dry
Storing your oranges damp or in a moist place will cause them to mold and go bad prematurely. As such, you should make sure there are no water droplets or any kind of moistness on the skin or in the area you put them.
If the fruit arrives wet or you washed it before storage, be sure to towel it dry and air it out before putting it away.
2. Store in Mesh Bags
Well-ventilated mesh bags will ensure that your oranges have some airflow so they can stay fresh. Do not use plastic bags, as these are not breathable and will likely trap air and moisture inside. And when this happens, the fruit will stay wet, causing mold to grow.
This is the most effective way to keep oranges fresh for a long time. The fruit tends to retain its quality best at cooler temperatures. Simply put the oranges in a mesh bag and store them in the crisper drawer. Do not forget to rotate the fruit regularly. It will help maintain airflow, which in turn, will help slow down the occurrence of mold and lesions.
4. Keep Oranges Whole
Whole oranges will stay fresh longer than ones that have been peeled or sliced. But if you have already chopped them and have some leftover, put them in the fridge. Just make sure they are placed in an airtight container or covered in plastic wrap.
Peeled or cut fruit goes bad quickly and keeping it covered helps slow down spoilage. Plus it locks out smells and flavors from nearby foodstuffs.
5. Avoid Direct Sunlight
If you are storing your oranges at room temperature, it would be wise to choose a spot that is away from sunlight and other heat sources. Oranges prefer cool, dry areas; that’s why the fridge is the best place to store them.
For more insights on how to store oranges, watch this video:
The Risk of Consuming Bad Oranges
If you consume a large number of moldy or bacteria-laden oranges, you will certainly get sick. People who have a particularly sensitive digestive system, especially, may experience vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and other symptoms of food poisoning. So it is best to get rid of old, spoiled oranges to keep yourself from harm’s way.
It is unlikely that you will experience these side effects if you have eaten just a single bad orange because the chances of even finishing the entire orange are very minimal. But if you do develop the above symptoms or any other form of gastrointestinal distress that lasts for more than two days, you should see the doctor immediately.
Can You Freeze Oranges?
Yes, you can. Just don’t freeze whole oranges. While just throwing whole oranges in a Ziplock bag and placing them in the freezer may seem like a faster method to put the fruit away, you will likely not love the outcome. Oranges have high water content and this water will break the walls apart, leaving you with soft balls of mush.
You certainly want to be able to enjoy your oranges in the long run, so instead of storing them whole, peel, section, and remove their seeds before putting them in the freezer. Stored this way, your fruit can retain its quality for up to a year. For best results, cover the little peeled pieces in sugar syrup and lock them in an airtight container.
To defrost the oranges, simply take them out of the freezer and let them sit out for about six hours. If you had dipped the fruit in syrup, drain the syrup and rinse the citrus with clean water before adding it to your recipes.
Thawed oranges must be consumed as soon as possible when their flavor is still fresh. Ideally, you should use the fruit within three to five days.
Here is a short video that shows you exactly how to freeze oranges:
When it comes to lifespan, oranges are no different from any other fresh fruit. Store yours in a cool dry pantry or prolong their life by refrigerating. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for spoilage signs and discard the fruit if it starts to get moldy, smelly, discolored, or tastes funny.
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