1 December 2023

Bought too many oranges and you are not sure how long they will last? Do you know that oranges go bad, but aren’t sure how to tell if the fruit is already bad?

Don’t worry, we’ve got your back. In this article, we cover everything you need to know about storage, shelf life and deterioration of oranges. If that’s what you’re looking for, keep reading!

orange in hand

How to select oranges at the grocery store?

Here’s what the University of California says about orange picking (UC):

Choose oranges that are firm and heavy for their size, with fine-textured skin and no soft spots. Oranges should not have cuts or bruises. Skin scars can develop where a young fruit has rubbed against the tree, but these surface defects do not affect the quality of the fruit inside.

And that’s all you need to remember when choosing this citrus fruit at the grocery store or farmer’s market.

Three oranges next to each other
Three oranges next to each other

How to store oranges

When it comes to storing whole oranges, there are two options.

You can leave them at room temperature, either in the pantry or even in a fruit basket in the kitchen. In this way, they are juicier, but they do not last as long (CPMA). It’s the go-to option if you know you’ll be using those oranges in a couple of days.

The second option is refrigerate the oranges. They won’t be as juicy, but in exchange for that, you get a much longer shelf life. It’s the best choice if you’re buying in bulk at a sale, or if your orchard-owning family member or friend shared part of their harvest with you.

If you already peeled the fruit and you have some cut or segmented oranges left over, you should store them in the refrigerator. If you have more than you can use, consider freezing those orange segments.


If you have too many oranges on hand, squeeze a few. Orange juice is an excellent source of vitamin C (WIKI) and the favorite breakfast drink of many.

peeled orange
peeled orange

How long do oranges last?

It is difficult to pin down the exact shelf life of oranges. It all depends on the variety, the quality, and what many people forget, how long they were stored before they hit the shelf.

If you search for answers on the Internet, they are everywhere. My recommendations are based on both personal experience and the FoodKeeper (FK) app.

oranges and tangerines
oranges and tangerines

Whole oranges last about 10 (FK) to 14 days at room temperature, and anywhere from 21 days (FK) to a month in the fridge.

Cut oranges only last about 2-3 days in the refrigerator. They dry out pretty quickly and raisins (raisins) are unlikely, dried oranges won’t do.

When it comes to OJ, we have a whole article on it.

Pantry Fridge
whole orange 10-14 days 21-30 days
cut orange 2-3 days

Please note that the periods above are estimates only.

Peel an orange
Peel an orange

How to know if oranges are bad?

As with almost all food products, there are a lot of things to consider. Start with a whole orange and check these out:

  • Visual changes. Small discolorations or peel (spots, etc.) are fine, but if the fruit develops mold, discard it.
  • Texture alterations. If the fruit looks good, give it a gentle squeeze. It should give something, but not much. If it’s super soft, mushy, or dry, it’s time for it to go.
  • Out of smell. If the orange has lost its citrus scent and is smelly (or strange), throw it away.
perforated orange spot
Orange: perforated spot

If your sample has passed all the checks up to this point, peel it and check the inside. Again, check for any changes related to color, texture, and odor.

If everything seems alright the last thing is to try its taste. If you pass it with flying colors, congratulations, that orange is perfectly fine. If it tastes so-so, it’s up to you whether you eat it or throw it away. Obviously, if the citrus tastes terrible, get rid of it.


You can use the same process to check if your tangerines and clementines are okay to eat.

fresh oranges
fresh oranges


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