Here’s everything you need to know about the shelf life and storage of clementines. Learn how long clementines last, how to store them, and how to tell if one is spoiled.
Bought a bunch of clementines or a bag of Cuties and wondering how long they are good for?
Or maybe you’re not quite sure if you should refrigerate them or let them sit on the counter?
If that’s the case, this article is for you. Read on.
Table of Contents
- How Long Do Clementines Last?
- How to Store Clementines?
- Should Clementines Be Refrigerated?
- Can You Freeze Clementines?
- How to Tell if a Clementine Is Bad?
- Clementines Shelf Life, Storage, and Spoilage Summary
How Long Do Clementines Last?
|Clementines (whole)||up to 7 days||2 – 3 weeks|
|Clementines (peeled, sections)||4 days|
Clementines last for up to a week at room temperature and for 2 to 3 weeks in the refrigerator. Once you peel or section them, they keep for 3 to 4 days in an airtight container or freezer bag in the fridge.
As you can tell, those storage times are a bit shorter than the shelf life of oranges and quite similar to how long tangerines last.
If you want to make sure your clementines last as long as possible, choose ones that are relatively firm to the touch (not super soft) and feel heavy for their size. But if you’re looking for something to snack on today or throw in your kid’s lunch box tomorrow, pick ones on the softer side.
(Make sure you don’t buy super soft ones – more on that in the section on spoilage.)
While the 2 to 3 weeks period seems quite long, don’t assume that your clementines will always last that long. Giving them a gentle squeeze between your fingers in the grocery store isn’t enough to calculate precisely how long they’ll be good for.
In other words, every now and then, your clementines might start to soften after only a week in the fridge. Unfortunately, that’s how things are with storing fruits and veggies, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
If you want to use those overripe clementines quickly, juice them. Fresh clementine juice keeps for about four days, just as fresh orange juice does.
Now, to make sure your tangerines keep fresh as long as possible, they need to be properly stored. Let’s cover that.
How to Store Clementines?
You can leave clementines at room temperature on the counter for up to a week or refrigerate them for two to three weeks. No matter which option you choose, store clementines in a ventilated container or bag.
If you buy clementines bagged, you’ve probably noticed that those bags allow lots of airflow. When storing clementines, aim for the same.
The easiest way is to reuse that ventilated bag. Or use any other ventilated bag if you buy your clementines in bulk. Alternatively, you can place them in a fruit bowl on the counter or in the crisper drawer in the fridge (without a bag).
When it comes to peeled clementines, halves, and sections, they all belong in the refrigerator. Depending on what you have on hand and what’s more convenient, you can either store them in an airtight container or a freezer bag.
Now, let’s tackle whether or not you should store your clementines in the fridge.
Should Clementines Be Refrigerated?
You don’t have to refrigerate clementines, but they stay fresh and sweet much longer in the fridge. Refrigerated clementines last for two to three weeks, while ones that you leave on the counter keep for only a week or so.
And if you’re wondering, most clementines brands, including Cuties, recommend refrigerating their fruits.
In the end, it’s all about the storage time. If you’re going to eat yours within a couple of days, feel free to leave them at room temperature. But if you’re not so sure, it’s better to play it safe and place them in the fridge.
Can You Freeze Clementines?
You can freeze clementines, but they soften noticeably after defrosting. Because of that, they don’t work well in food salads or as a snack, and it’s best to juice them or use them in smoothies.
Alternatively, you can juice them and then freeze clementine juice. To read more about freezing citrus juices, check out my article on how to freeze orange juice.
Let’s cover the two freezing options in more detail.
Freezing Whole Clementines
If clementine juice is what you’re after, freeze your clementines whole. Here’s how:
- Prep. Wash the fruits briefly under running water and dry them using kitchen towels. If you’re going to juice those clementines using a citrus juicer, leave the peel on. But if you use a masticating or centrifugal juicer, peel them. It’s easier now since the fruit is still quite firm and fresh.
- Transfer to a freezer bag. Put all your clementines into a freezer bag (or bags), squeeze out the air, and seal them. Write the name and date on each bag if you like.
- Freeze. Place all the bags in the freezer.
That’s it. Frozen clementines should retain decent quality for at least 3 to 6 months in the freezer.
When the time comes to juice them, defrost them overnight in the fridge and juice.
Freezing Sectioned Clementines
If you want to throw a clementine or two into a smoothie, freezing them in sections is the freezing option for you.
Here’s how you freeze clementines in sections:
- Prep. Wash, peel, and section all the fruits.
- Pre-freeze. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat, and spread out the sections or segments in a single layer. Place the baking sheet in the freezer for 2 to 3 hours, or until the clementines freeze solid.
- Transfer to a freezer bag. Take the cookie sheet from the freezer and move all the fruit pieces into a freezer bag. Squeeze out the air and seal the bag tight. Last, add a label with the name and date if you find it helpful.
- Freeze. Chuck the bag in the freezer.
Frozen this way, clementines should keep well for at least 3 to 6 months but will probably stay decent for much longer.
When you’re ready to enjoy them, you can either throw them in frozen (if your blender can handle ice cubes), defrost them for a couple of hours in the refrigerator, or leave them on the counter for 30 to 60 minutes.
If you’re going with the last option, use all the defrosted sections right away.
(If you’d like to learn more about the topic and perhaps check out some photos, read my article on freezing oranges).
How to Tell if a Clementine Is Bad?
Throw out clementines that:
- Are super soft to the touch, shriveled, or oozing water. All three signs mean the fruit has lost lots of water and is pretty bad quality-wise. If other signs of spoilage aren’t present, you could probably eat those without getting sick, but I suggest you discard them anyway. The juice is not worth the squeeze.
- Are moldy or their peel is severely damaged. Obviously, some minor blemishes or soft spots are okay, and you can cut them off. But if the citrus fruit starts to grow mold, toss it.
- Smell off. Whole clementines don’t have a strong aroma. If your can easily sense yours, and the smell isn’t fresh, citrusy, and sweetish, discard them. That said, it’s highly uncommon to find a clementine that smells funny (unless it sat near fresh meat that wasn’t wrapped well, obviously).
- Are peeled and sit in the fridge for more than 4 – 5 days. They might not necessarily be spoiled at that point, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
As with all citrus fruits, water loss is the most common sign of spoilage.
If your clementines have been stored for way too long, they’ll rarely rot, grow mold, or smell funky. In most cases, they’ll be squishy and feel light for their size, that’s all. And that’s when you toss them.
If everything seems okay, peel the clementine and break it into sections or individual segments.
Before you dig in, take a quick look at the peeled clementine and give it a good whiff, just in case. 99 out of 100 times, everything will be okay, but if you notice anything off, trust that instinct and discard the fruit.
Clementines Shelf Life, Storage, and Spoilage Summary
Thank you for reading this guide on clementines. Let’s briefly recap what we’ve covered above:
- Shelf life. Whole clementines keep for about a week on the counter and 2 to 3 weeks in the fridge. Peeled ones last about 4 days.
- Storage. You should store clementines in a ventilated bag, container, or anything else that provides airflow. Leave them on the counter if you’re going to eat them soon, or refrigerate them if you need more time.
- Freezing. You can freeze clementines whole if you want to juice them after defrosting or freeze them in sections to add to smoothies and the like. Frozen clementines don’t work well in fruit salads or as a snack.
- Spoilage. If your clementine is soft, shriveled, or leaking water, toss it. Same if you notice any mold or the fruit is severely damaged (bruises, sunken spots, and so on).