If you have an orange tree in your yard, you probably consider it one of the best investments you’ve ever made! Because they’re low-maintenance and produce such delicious fruit, orange trees are a pleasure to grow.
Once you’ve mastered growing and harvesting them, however, the next thing to do is to prolong the enjoyment of your oranges.
That means you must ask yourself a couple of questions. For example, how long do oranges last after harvesting? How can you make them stay fresh longer? What can you do with them if they become overripe?
We’re prepared to answer those questions for you!
Benefits of Growing Oranges
Oranges have long been lauded for their health benefits.
- They’re rich in vitamin C, which helps you develop a robust immune system.
- Their fiber moderates your blood pressure and assists your digestive system so that your body processes food more efficiently.
- There’s also calcium, an essential nutrient for bone health.
Plus, you get all these advantages in a sweet yet tangy juice!
Considering their glossy green foliage and the bright color of the fruit, orange trees are also a delightful focal point in a garden setting.
Perhaps more importantly, growing your own oranges gives you more control over their quality. Still, even if your tree produces the most scrumptious oranges you’ve ever tasted, they won’t stay that way forever, so you must know how long oranges last after ripening.
Shelf Life of Oranges After Harvesting
Once you’ve brought your oranges inside, perhaps you like to store them in a fruit bowl on your kitchen counter or table. That keeps them in easy reach and brightens up the space. How long do oranges last at room temperature, though? The common consensus is that they’ll stay good for about a week.
On the other hand, maybe you want a refreshingly cool, crisp texture whenever you bite into an orange. In that case, the refrigerator is a sensible place to put them. But how long do oranges last in the fridge?
Refrigeration increases the shelf life of oranges. You can expect them to remain fresh for roughly a month in there.
How to Prolong Freshness
Whether you choose a table or the fridge, there are ways to encourage oranges to last longer than usual. Check out these tips:
Storing at Room Temperature
Once the oranges are no longer absorbing nutrients from the tree, direct sunlight is more likely to hurt than help them. Set them in a cool and shady spot in your kitchen, like the area beneath a cupboard above the counter, or in front of a window covered with curtains or blinds.
You may be surprised at how long oranges last with such a simple step.
To prevent illness or infection, you should always wash your oranges before eating them or leaving them out for others to eat. Just make sure that you dry them with a paper towel immediately afterward so that mold is less likely to grow.
In general, try to keep the humidity in your home to roughly 50%, both for your own health and for the sake of your fruit.
Storing in the Fridge
Put the oranges in a plastic mesh bag. The airflow reduces condensation, which prevents mold growth. If you’ve already cut them, however, get them into an airtight storage container; the flesh will wither faster when exposed to oxygen.
Whole or cut, bag or container, store oranges in the crisper drawer, as it maintains their fresh texture.
Storing Oranges in the Freezer
How long do oranges last in the freezer, though? It’s a less common method for storing oranges because they gradually become hardened and lose some of their nutrients and juice over time. That said, they’ll stay edible for up to twelve months in there.
It’s a great idea if you want to make juice, smoothies, or orange-themed desserts throughout the year, but not if you expect them to taste fresh when you take them out.
What If They’re No Longer Fresh?
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, oranges start losing their freshness before you’ve eaten them. Don’t worry–you’d be surprised at how long oranges last in other ways! We have a few great ideas for using them past their eating prime.
Clean Your Home
If you let the orange peels sit in a jar of vinegar for a couple of weeks, you’ll create one of the most effective natural cleaners possible. The properties of both vinegar and orange oils make them excellent at destroying bacteria while ensuring your home smells lovely. It’s hard to say for how long oranges last in a cleaner like this, but it could be anywhere from a few months to several years!
Eat and Drink Better
Even if you’re disappointed by how long oranges last, the peel can still make your food and drinks more delicious long after the inner flesh is no longer appetizing.
Let the peels sit in some hot water with other spices to make tea, or use it for homemade marmalade. To make a rich, delicious salad dressing, soak peels in extra virgin olive oil with other herbs and spices of your choosing for a few weeks.
You can also make zest from fresh orange peel. It’s a delicious flavoring for pastries, cakes, sugar, spice mixes, rice, ice cubes, smoothies, popcorn, ice cream, sushi, etc.
For centuries, people have stuck cloves into the surfaces of oranges and then hung them from the ceilings and windows to make the air smell better. These are called pomanders.
More recently, it’s become common to grind oranges in the garbage disposal to overpower the scent of expired or moldy food. You can also remove foul fridge odors by leaving a salted peel on a shelf inside.
Once dried, peels can go in sachets with other herbs and spices, too, so that every room in your home smells wonderful. You can even boil them with clove and cinnamon sticks for a lovely aroma.
If you’re into self-care, you’ll love to know how long oranges last for that! The peels and zest can become ingredients for homemade body scrubs, skin exfoliators, and face masks. You can also cut an orange in half, stick it in some raw sugar, and then rub it on your face, hands, and feet as a natural skin exfoliator.
A face mask may only remain usable for about a week, but body scrubs and exfoliators made with zest are good for about six months!
Deter Animals and Insects
Many humans love oranges, but most animals and insects do not! Mixing peels with coffee grounds and leaving them around your property is a reliable way to discourage cats from wandering around.
For unwanted dogs, or to discourage your own dog from digging under the fence, put some juice in a spray bottle and coat your fence with it. Use the spray to repel ants, mosquitos, and other insects, too.
Start a Fire
Love camping, but wish fires were easier to start? Orange peels could be the solution. They are naturally filled with a highly flammable oil that makes them a more dependable kindling than most other materials.
Bring them with you on your next trip outdoors!
If you’re growing orange trees, you probably love gardening in general. The oranges can assist as part of your compost. In fact, they’ll provide several essential nutrients for the soil, including phosphorus, potassium, and nitrogen. No matter how long oranges last, they can make everything in your garden else last longer.
Decorate for the Holidays
Oranges became a traditional Christmas treat in the 19th century, so they’ve also become a popular holiday decoration. Save your old oranges to create sweet-smelling ornaments, wreaths, candles, centerpieces, garlands, etc. There are ideas everywhere!
Maximize Your Enjoyment!
Ask yourself again–how long do oranges last? The answer is that it depends on how you store and use them! It’s hard to count the ways that oranges can benefit your home when you can grow and harvest them right in your own yard.
Of course, that’s why we’ve written so many articles about them! Visit our Orange Trees page to learn everything you can about growing and caring for all kinds of mandarins, tangerines, etc. so that you can fully enjoy them to their fullest.