Oranges are one of the most popular fruits around the world. Known for their sweet, tangy flavor and high vitamin C content, oranges make a nutritious snack or addition to any meal. But how long do oranges stay fresh and edible after buying them from the store? Here is a comprehensive guide to orange freshness and shelf life.
How Long Do Oranges Last at Room Temperature?
If stored properly at room temperature, oranges generally last about 1-2 weeks before going bad. Here are some tips for getting the longest shelf life from your oranges:
- Buy oranges that feel heavy for their size and have bright, glossy peels. Oranges that feel lightweight or have dull peels are old and dry.
- Keep oranges loose, not in sealed plastic bags which can trap moisture and accelerate spoilage.
- Store oranges at room temperature away from direct sunlight, which can cause them to dry out faster.
- Don’t store oranges with apples, bananas, or other fruits that give off ethylene gas, which shortens orange shelf life.
By following these tips, fresh oranges should stay good in a bowl on the counter or table for 7-14 days. Watch out for signs that oranges are past their prime like mold, soft spots, or a dull, dry peel.
How to Tell if Oranges Have Gone Bad
Here are the signs that indicate your oranges have spoiled and should be discarded:
- Moldy patches – Fuzzy white, blue, green, or black mold growing on the peel or flesh.
- Soft spots – Indented and mushy spots on the orange, indicating mold and rot under the surface.
- Wrinkled peel – A peel that is very dry and deflated looking, a sign the orange is old and dehydrated.
- Dull, dry peel – The peel looks matte and slightly shriveled rather than glossy.
- Off odor – A sour, fermented smell means the orange is rotting and should be thrown out.
If an orange develops any of these characteristics, it’s time to get rid of it. Moldy or rotten spots can spread quickly to good areas of the fruit. When in doubt, don’t risk it – toss oranges at the first signs of spoilage.
How Long Do Oranges Last Refrigerated?
While room temperature storage works for short term orange freshness, refrigeration extends shelf life. Here’s how long oranges last when stored in the fridge:
- Whole oranges: 3-4 weeks.
- Peeled oranges: 5-7 days.
- Orange slices: 3-5 days.
- Squeezed orange juice: 3-5 days.
To get the most out of refrigerated oranges:
- Store whole oranges loose in the crisper drawer, not in an air-tight container.
- Wrap peeled oranges or slices air-tight in plastic wrap or store in a sealed container.
- Squeeze juice just before use for maximum freshness.
- Check periodically for mold or soft spots and discard at first signs of spoilage.
Proper refrigeration slows down the growth of mold and bacteria, keeping oranges fresher longer.
How to Freeze Oranges
Freezing is a great long term storage method for oranges. Frozen whole oranges can be kept for 4-6 months, while orange juice can be frozen for up to 1 year.
To freeze oranges:
- Wash and dry oranges thoroughly. Peel if desired.
- Place whole oranges in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze until solid, about 2 hours.
- Transfer frozen oranges to a freezer bag or airtight container, removing as much air as possible.
- Store frozen oranges at 0°F or below.
For orange juice, squeeze juice from fresh oranges and pour into ice cube trays. Freeze until solid, then transfer to freezer bags. Thaw frozen orange juice overnight in the fridge before using.
How to Store Orange Juice and Zest
The zest and juice of oranges have slightly different storage requirements than the whole fruit. Here are some tips:
- Orange zest – Place dried, grated zest in an airtight container and store in the freezer for 4-6 months.
- Orange juice – Refrigerate fresh squeezed juice for 3-5 days. Freeze for longer storage.
- Canned juice – Store unopened cans of orange juice for 1-2 years in the pantry. Refrigerate after opening.
- Bottled juice – Unopened bottles can be stored in the fridge for 5-7 days. Consume within 2-3 days after opening.
Sealing orange juice and zest in freezer bags or airtight containers prevents moisture loss, odor absorption, and spoilage during storage.
How Long Do Oranges Last: Shelf Life Chart
Here is a quick reference chart summarizing how long oranges last when stored properly under different conditions:
As you can see, refrigeration and freezing give oranges much longer shelf life compared to short term room temperature storage. Follow these orange storage times and tips to enjoy fresh, flavorful oranges as long as possible!
6 Tips to Extend How Long Oranges Last
Want to get the maximum freshness and shelf life out of your oranges? Here are 6 handy tips:
- Buy firm, heavy oranges with bright, glossy peels. Avoid soft, lightweight fruits.
- Store oranges loose at room temperature, not sealed in plastic bags.
- Keep oranges away from ethylene-producing fruits like apples and bananas.
- Move oranges to the fridge after 1-2 weeks at room temperature.
- Freeze oranges for long term storage of 4-6 months.
- Check refrigerated oranges periodically for signs of spoilage like mold.
Following these best practices for buying, handling, and storing oranges lets you enjoy their sweet flavor for up to 2 weeks on the counter or 4 weeks in the refrigerator.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How can you tell if an orange is bad?
Signs that indicate an orange has gone bad include moldy patches, soft spots, a wrinkled or dull peel, and an off smell. Discard any oranges showing these signs of spoilage.
2. Why do my oranges mold so quickly?
Oranges may mold faster if stored in a sealed plastic bag, exposed to moisture, or kept near ethylene gas given off by ripening fruits. Store oranges loose in a cool, dry place to prevent premature mold.
3. Is it OK to eat an orange with a soft spot?
It’s best to avoid eating oranges with soft spots, which indicate mold and rot even if not visible. The mold can spread quickly to the inside of the fruit. When in doubt, throw it out.
4. Can you freeze oranges whole?
Yes, whole unpeeled oranges can be frozen successfully for long term storage. Wash, dry, and freeze whole oranges in a single layer on a tray before transferring to airtight freezer bags.
5. How long does orange juice last once squeezed?
Freshly squeezed orange juice will last 3-5 days refrigerated. For longer term storage, freeze orange juice in ice cube trays, then transfer to bags.
6. Is it better to refrigerate oranges or leave at room temperature?
Short term, room temperature is fine for whole oranges. For storage over 2 weeks, refrigeration is better to slow mold growth and extend freshness.
Knowing how long oranges stay fresh can help you reduce food waste and enjoy their delicious flavor. With proper storage techniques like refrigeration and freezing, oranges can retain their taste and nutrition for weeks or even months past the typical 1-2 week room temperature shelf life. Follow these orange storage tips, watch for signs of spoilage, and enjoy citrus fruits while they are in season!