We don’t freeze fresh fruit often. But if you have a bunch of oranges that you don’t want to waste, you’ve probably wondered: can you freeze oranges?
If you’re like me and tend to buy fruit by the bag instead of thinking about how much you need, sooner or later you’ll end up with more oranges than you can use. That’s when you start looking for ways to preserving this citrus fruit.
Freezing is one of the easiest and most popular preservation methods. And that’s why he’s the first one he investigated.
So, without further ado, let’s talk about whether and when freezing oranges makes sense.
Can you freeze oranges?
I have good 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 is not the same after thawing.
Let me explain.
The first thing to know is that according to the University of California (UC) Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, freezing navel oranges is a bad idea. Here is his explanation:
Navel oranges do not freeze well. A very bitter compound called limonin develops in oranges when they are frozen. This compound is found in higher levels in Navel oranges, making them a poor choice for freezing whole or as juice.
And in case you didn’t know what Navel oranges look like (I didn’t), here’s a picture:
In short, if you have a lot of Navel oranges, freezing them is probably not a good idea.
When it comes to the quality after thawing not being so great, you already know that, right? We typically reserve frozen fruit for only certain dishes, like smoothies, salads, or baked goods. are just not as good to eat on its own as fresh fruit.
The same principle applies to oranges that you want to freeze.
Ok, now that you know all the potential downsides, you’re ready to freeze this citrus fruit.
How to freeze oranges
Below I describe the freeze dry pack method, which It requires the least amount of hands-on time and involves no sweeteners..
Basically, it’s a lazy (or busy) man’s way of freezing oranges, with the added benefit of avoiding any excess sugar.
Other methods also exist, such as sugar syrup packaging (NCHFP) or pectin syrup packaging (UC). They 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 guess you don’t either.
Anyway, if you want to read more about those methods, you can find the links in the sources at the end of the article.
Now, let’s see a step by step of freezing oranges in dry pack.
- Peel the oranges. Remove most of the marrow as usual.
- Divide into sections or segments. Choose the option that suits you best. The NCHFP suggests removing all membranes and seeds at this point, but I don’t think it’s necessary. However, feel free to do so if you’d like to play with your knife for a couple more minutes.
- Pack the sections in a freezer bag. Remove the air and seal it. Add a tag if you want.
- Freeze. Put the package in the freezer.
If you skip cutting through the membranes and aren’t very careful about removing the white pith (as I was), this whole process takes about 5 minutes for two oranges.
If you freeze oranges this way, the sections or segments will be frozen together. Fortunately, you should be able to tear off a chunk or two when needed (I was).
If you prefer the segments not to clump together, they should be pre-frozen (or air-freeze) first. Here’s how to do it:
- Prepare a cookie sheet. Cover with parchment paper or a silicone mat so the fruit doesn’t stick. You can also use the cookie sheet without any covering, but removing the orange segments from the sheet can be difficult.
- Place all the segments on a single layer.
- Freeze until pieces are solid. That usually takes a couple of hours, or you can do it overnight.
- Transfer the frozen segments to a freezer bag and return to the freezer.
If you can’t be bothered with freezing oranges, you can juice them and freeze OJ instead!
How to thaw frozen oranges
When it comes to defrosting, it is better tYou only have as many sections or segments as you need at the moment. That’s why we don’t freeze whole oranges after peeling them.
There are a couple of ways to thaw frozen oranges. Choose one that makes the most sense for whatever you are preparing:
- In the fridge. Slow thawing is the best for quality and takes two to four hours, depending on whether you have divided the oranges into sections or individual segments.
- On the counter. If you’re making a fruit salad, remove the segments you need from the freezer 40 minutes to an hour before you begin. They should be ready when you need them.
- Throw them frozen. There are at least a couple of cases where defrosting oranges is not necessary. You can throw a frozen segment or two into a glass of water on a sweltering day, or use frozen orange pieces 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 is fine (for me, at least), but definitely not as good as having a fresh one. Instead, here are a couple of ways you can use them:
- smoothies Smoothies are probably the most popular way to use frozen fruit. If you like to mix food and vegetables together to make a nutritious drink, you’ll be using those frozen oranges in no time.
- Cakes and pastries. If a recipe calls for puréeing oranges, thawed oranges should work just as well as fresh ones.
- Fruit salad. When making a fruit salad, make sure that the oranges are not the star of the salad, but just the side kick. The vast majority of the salad should consist of fresh ingredients.
If you’re wondering if your thawed oranges will work in a recipe, ask yourself the following question: Does the success of the dish depend on the oranges being juicy, firm and fragrant? If so, you’ll do better with fresh oranges. If not, feel free to use the frozen and thawed ones.