Do Oranges Go Bad?

Bought a few too many oranges and not sure how long will they last? Know that oranges go bad, but not certain how to tell if the fruit is bad already?

No worries, we’ve got your back. In this article, we cover everything you need to know about storage, shelf life, and going bad of oranges. If that’s what you’re looking for, read on!

Orange in hand

How To Select Oranges at the Grocery Store?

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

Choose oranges that are firm and heavy for their size, with fine-textured skin and no soft spots. Oranges should be free of cuts or bruises. Scars may develop on the peel where a young fruit has brushed against the tree, but these surface flaws 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 or farmer’s market.

Three oranges side by side
Three oranges side by side

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. This way, they are juicier, but they don’t last that long (CPMA). It’s the go-to option if you know you’re going to use those oranges within a couple of days.

The second option is to 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 option if you’re buying in bulk on a sale, or your family member or friend who owns an orchard shared some of their harvest with you.

If you’ve already peeled the fruit and have some leftover cut or segmented oranges, they belong in the fridge. If you have more than you can find use for, consider freezing those orange segments.

Tip

If you have too many oranges on your hand, juice some of them. Orange juice is an excellent source of vitamin C (WIKI), and a favorite breakfast drink for many.

Peeled orange
Peeled orange

How Long Do Oranges Last

It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact shelf life of oranges. It all depends on variety, quality, and what many people forget about, how long they were stored before they got their way to the shelf.

If you scour the Internet for answers, they are all over the place. My recommendations are based on both personal experience and the FoodKeeper app (FK).

Oranges and tangerines
Oranges and tangerines

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

Cut oranges last only about 2 – 3 days in the refrigerator. They dry out quite quickly, and unlikely dried grapes (raisins), dry oranges are no good.

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

PantryFridge
Whole orange10 – 14 days21 – 30 days
Cut orange2 – 3 days

Please note the periods above are only estimates.

Peeling an orange
Peeling an orange

How To Tell If Oranges Are Bad?

Like with pretty much all food products, there’s a bunch of things to look out for. Start with a whole orange and check for these:

  • Visual changes. Minor discolorations or the rind (dots, etc.) are alright, but if the fruit develops mold, discard it.
  • Texture alterations. If the fruit looks okay, give it a gentle squeeze. It should have some give, but not much. If it’s super soft, mushy, or dried out, it’s time for it to go.
  • Off smell. If the orange has lost its citrusy smell and smells off (or funny), throw it out.
Orange punctured spot
Orange: punctured spot

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

If everything seems to be alright, the last thing is to test its taste. If it passes it with flying colors, congratulations, that orange is perfectly fine. If it tastes so-so, it’s up to you if you eat it or discard it. Obviously, if the citrus fruit tastes terrible, get rid of it.

Tip

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

Fresh oranges
Fresh oranges

Sources