How to Freeze Mandarin Oranges | Two Methods

Fruit trees are a blessing, and if you are fortunate enough to have a mandarin orange tree growing in your yard or even in a container on your patio or balcony, it can provide you with fresh fruit for several months out of the year. 

If you have a bumper crop and just don’t know what to do with all those oranges, you can freeze Mandarin or any variety of oranges to use when the fresh ones are gone.

I have been doing this for over 50 years, so I can help guide you on what to do.

Mandarine oranges or tangerines in a basket with a peeled orange in front on a cutting board

The Best Way To Freeze Oranges

There are several ways to freeze oranges. Just pick the way that best suits your needs from the options mentioned below.

Method 1: Juice The Oranges & Freeze The Juice.

If you primarily use oranges for juicing, this will be the way to go. Just go ahead and juice the oranges and freeze the juice in containers that are the size that you would normally use within a few days. Just follow these steps:

  1. Wash and dry the oranges.
  2. Cut the oranges in half and juice them with whatever type of juicer that you have.
  3. Transfer the juice to freezer-safe containers, like these found on Amazon. Label and store in the freezer until needed.

Pro Tip: To thaw frozen fruit juice, remove it from the freezer and let it thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

Freshly-Squeezed-Orange-Juice
Fresh orange juice in my kitchen.

Method 2: Peel The Oranges & Freeze The Segments.

If you use oranges in a number of different ways like for making smoothies and slushies, and as an ingredient in salads, then the best way to go is to follow these steps:

  1. Zest the oranges to use in pound cakes, coffee cakes, cookies, cranberry sauce, and various other dishes.
  2. Peel the oranges and discard the pith.
  3. If you have a use for the peels, as in candied citrus peels, the peels, if not zested, can be sliced and frozen for use at a later time.
  4. Separate the segments and freeze them in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment or waxed paper. When frozen, put them into a freezer bag, label them, and store them in the freezer to use in slushes, smoothies, and to add to salads either whole or cut in half.
  5. Any remaining pieces of the orange, including the pith, can be composted so that there is no waste at all involved in preserving the oranges for use at a later time.

In this video, I demonstrate the full process:

Warning: Do Not Freeze The Oranges Whole

Freezing the oranges whole is not the method of freezing any kind of citrus fruits that I would recommend.

These are the disadvantages of freezing oranges whole:

  • Their rather large round shape would take up a lot of room in the freezer.
  • Fruit that has been frozen and thawed is not as easy to work with as fresh fruit. So, using the oranges after they have thawed is more difficult than when they are fresh.

Are Oranges Still Good If Frozen?

To eat the oranges raw after they have been frozen, let them thaw in the refrigerator overnight and you will not be able to tell that they have been frozen. They are excellent! Plus, you won’t be able to tell the difference in the juice, whether it is fresh or has been frozen. Same with the slushes, you shouldn’t be able to tell whether you are using fresh oranges or oranges that have been frozen once they have been added to your slushes or smoothies.

And, when you use the previously frozen segments in a salad, the taste will be very pleasant and not at all different from fresh when added to the other salad ingredients.

Other Ways To Preserve Oranges

Freezing is one of the best methods to preserve oranges, we already talked about that. Here are two more long-term ways to preserve them: (1) Jelly or Marmalade and (2) Dehydrating.

Method 1: Jelly or Marmalade

No matter what kind of fruit I have access to, my first thoughts always go to making jam and jelly. So, naturally, when I have oranges, I’m trying to decide which to make, jelly or marmalade. My preference is jelly, but many people I know prefer marmalade. In fact, I have quite a few requests for orange marmalade when I’m selling jam and jelly at the local farmer’s markets.

There are many versions of the orange jelly and orange marmalade recipes, and I’ve included here an orange jelly recipe that uses fruit pectin, but the orange marmalade recipe is the “old-fashioned” version that takes advantage of the high natural pectin content of oranges, although it requires a rather long cooking time.

Related How To Extract Juice From Fruits To Make Jelly: A Detailed Guide.

Method 2: Dehydrating

Drying or dehydrating oranges is one of the better ways of preserving oranges to be used at a later date. It is a simple process and can be done in several different ways. I’m including in this article the oven-drying method, the dehydrator method, and the air-fryer method.

Oven Drying Method

  1. Preheat your oven to its lowest setting or 175 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Wash and dry the oranges and slice them thinly, somewhere between 1/8″ and 1/4″.
  3. Spread the slices on paper towels for 5 minutes or so to allow some of the juice to be absorbed by the paper towels. This step will shorten the drying time.
  4. Using baking sheets, line the baking sheets with drying racks if you have them. If not, line the baking sheets with parchment paper.
  5. Spread the orange slices in a single layer on the wire racks or parchment paper.
  6. Place the baking sheets in the oven and bake at 175 degrees for 3 to 5 hours, turning them over every 30 minutes. The length of time it takes for the oranges to dry depends on how thick the slices are, so start checking for doneness after 3 hours.

Dehydrator Method

  1. Preheat the dehydrator to 135 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Wash and dry the oranges and slice them thinly, somewhere between 1/8″ and 1/4″.
  3. Spread the slices on paper towels for 5 minutes or so to allow some of the juice to be absorbed by the paper towels. This step will shorten the drying time.
  4. Spread the orange slices in a single layer on the dehydrator racks.
  5. Dehydrate the orange slices for 6 to 9 hours, depending on how thick the slices are.
  6. Place the baking sheets in the oven and bake at 175 degrees for 3 to 4 hours, turning them over every 30 minutes.

Air Dryer Method

  1. Preheat your air dryer to its lowest setting or 175 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Wash and dry the oranges and slice them thinly, somewhere between 1/8″ and 1/4″.
  3. Spread the slices on paper towels for 5 minutes or so to allow some of the juice to be absorbed by the paper towels. This step will shorten the drying time.
  4. Using your air fryer basket, line the basket with parchment paper.
  5. Spread the orange slices in a single layer on the parchment paper.
  6. Bake the orange slices for approximately 1 1/2 hours, turning them over every 30 minutes.

How To Tell When Dehydrated Oranges Are Done

The dehydrated or dried oranges are done when they appear leathery and no longer have any soft or moist spots on them.

How To Use Dehydrated Oranges

Dehydrated oranges are mainly used to garnish cocktails and other beverages, to decorate cakes, and to use in making Christmas decorations, but they also make great snacks like other dried fruits. Since they do not require refrigeration, they make a great addition to trail mixes and snacks for outdoor activities like camping and hiking.

How To Store Dehydrated Oranges

Dehydrated orange slices are best if stored in an airtight container such as a good canning jar or a Mylar bag and placed in a cool dry area away from any heat or light source.

Saving Peels & Zest

If you do a lot of cooking and baking, don’t forget to zest at least part of the oranges so that the zest can be frozen and ready for your use anytime you want it. Also, if you use orange peels for things like candied peels, orange peels can also be frozen before making the candy. 

Just follow these steps for zesting:

  1. Wash and dry the oranges.
  2. Zest the oranges.
  3. Place the zest on a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment or waxed paper and freeze it in a single layer.
  4. Once the zest is frozen, put it in any container that will hold all the zest that you have. At that point, the zest will not stick together, and you can just spoon out the amount that you need.
  5. Label the container and put it into the freezer.

These are the steps for peeling:

  1. Wash and dry the oranges.
  2. Peel the oranges.
  3. Cut the peels in strips the size that you normally use for your different recipes, like candied orange peels.
  4. Spread the peels in a single layer on a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment or waxed paper, put it into the freezer, and allow it enough time to freeze.
  5. Once the peels are frozen, pour them into freezer bags, and you can just scoop out the amount that you need without having to use the entire batch at once.
A-womens-hands-extracting-zest-from-orange-peel-with-a-cheese-grater
A cheese grater can be used to zest oranges.

The Best Way To Peel Oranges

The best way I have found to peel oranges is to run a sharp knife from the top of the orange to the stem end, making 4 cuts as though cutting the orange into quarters while only cutting through the peel. Then, with your fingers, just pull off the 4 pieces of peel, which should come off easily, making quick work of peeling an orange. Finally, using the knife, remove any thick sections of pith that remain on the orange.

How To Peel Mandarin Oranges

Mandarin oranges can be peeled just like other kinds of oranges. Just follow these steps:

  1. Run a sharp knife from the top of the orange to the stem end, making 4 cuts as though cutting the orange into quarters while only cutting through the peel.
  2. With your fingers, just pull off the 4 pieces of peel, which should come off easily.
  3. Using the knife, remove any remaining pith that is still on the orange.

Freezing Orange Peels

Orange peels can be frozen for use at a later time. Simply follow these steps:

  1. Wash and dry the oranges.
  2. Cut the peels in strips the size that you normally use for your different recipes, like candied orange peels. 
  3. Spread the strips of peel in a single layer on a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment or waxed paper, put it into the freezer, and allow it enough time to freeze.
  4. Once the strips are frozen, pour them into freezer bags, and you can just scoop out the amount that you need without having to use the entire batch at once.
  5. Label the bag and put it into the freezer.

Storing Mandarin Oranges in the Fridge (Do They Last Longer?)

Mandarin oranges, as well as all other types of oranges, can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks before they begin to go bad.

Oranges should be stored either loose in a crisper drawer of the refrigerator or in a mesh bag that is breathable. They should not be stored in a plastic bag or container.

Freezing Canned Mandarin Oranges

If you have mandarin oranges left over from an opened can that you aren’t going to use right away, you can put them into a freezer-safe airtight container and freeze them.

Freezing Clementines

Clementines, like other orange varieties, can be frozen by using the same methods as other oranges. But, although excellent in smoothies and slushies, frozen clementine segments will be mushy when thawed and are not good for eating.

How Long Oranges Last

Fresh

Fresh oranges if stored properly at room temperature away from bright sunlight and high heat will last for about a week.

Refrigerated

When refrigerated, oranges last for 3 to 4 weeks if stored in one of the crisper drawers either loose or in a mesh bag that is breathable.

Frozen

Frozen oranges last for up to a year in the freezer, and even though they will remain good for a longer period of time, the quality of the frozen oranges will begin to degrade over time.

Canned

Unopened home canned oranges will stay good if stored properly for 2 to 3 years. However, it is recommended by most experts that the maximum shelf life of home canned fruit is one year, and that the food should be consumed within 2 years.

Dried

Dried oranges will last for 2 to 3 years and are great for long-term storage. Dried fruit does not have to be refrigerated making it a great snack item for outdoor activities like hiking and camping where refrigeration is not available.

This chart illustrates how long oranges last when preserved by various methods:

OrangesHow Long Do They Last?
Fresh – Unrefrigerated1 Week
Fresh – Refrigerated3 – 4 Weeks
Frozen1 Year
Canned2 – 3 Years
Dried2 – 3 Years

Can Oranges & Other Citrus Fruits Be Canned?

Oranges and other citrus fruits are high-acid fruits and, like most other fruits, can safely be water-bath canned. But, they can also be pressure canned. In fact, here is a link to the National Center For Home Food Preparation with information on the procedure and processing times for canning grapefruit and oranges.

National Center for Home Preparation Info

Oranges and other citrus fruits can be dried by several different methods, the sun, the oven, a dehydrator, and even in an air fryer. Dried citrus, like other dried fruits, make a healthy and delicious snack and can be used in any recipe that calls for dried fruit.

Thanks for stoppin’ by!

Jelly Grandma

For more, don’t miss Freezer Strategy | The 10 Do’s and Dont’s of Freezing Foods.

Anne James

Anne James has a wealth of experience in a wide array of interests and is an expert in quilting, cooking, gardening, camping, mixing drinks (bartending), and making jelly. Anne has a professional canning business, has been featured in the local newspaper as well as on the Hershey website, and has been her family canner for decades. Anyone growing up in the South knows that there is always a person in the family who has knowledge of the “old ways,” and this is exactly what Anne is. With over 55 years of experience in these endeavors, she brings a level of hands-on knowledge that is hard to surpass. Amazingly, she doesn’t need to reference many resources due to her vast wealth of experience. She IS the source. Anne wants nothing more than to pass on her extensive knowledge to the next generations, whether that be family or anyone visiting her website, her YouTube channel, or survivalfreedom.com.

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