Living in Florida means oranges and grapefruit are always available for us because we have our own citrus trees. But when the freeze hits, we are forced to pick all of the fruit so the cold doesn’t ruin them. What in the world do you do with all those extra oranges though before they go bad?
After 2 years of losing much of our citrus fruits to an unexpected freeze we finally found many ways to harvest and use all of the extra oranges that our trees now provide us. In this post I will share a few of those ways you too can preserve those extra oranges to enjoy them later on.
Facts About General Citrus Fruit
First, let me give you a bit of information on citrus fruit before we go into what to do with it. This will help you in preparing it later.
Citrus fruit includes the following:
The juice of citrus fruits contains a high quantity of citric acid and other organic acids which is what gives them their characteristic sharp flavor. With citrus fruits, many species are cultivated for their fruit, which is eaten fresh, pressed for juice, or preserved in marmalades and pickles.
Oranges, especially, are great sources of vitamin C. The content of vitamin C in the fruit depends on the species, variety, and mode of cultivation. Please note though if canning any form of citrus, most of the vitamin C is depleted in the canning process.
The rind and oil of the fruit are generally bitter, especially when cooked, so they are often combined with sugar. The fruit pulp, however, which the part we generally eat fresh, can vary from sweet to extremely sour. The more ripe the citrus the sweeter the fruit. The peel is often called the zest and the white part that coats the interior of the fruit is called the pith, which is not good tasting at all and is usually removed.
Ways to Preserve the Abundance
Now that you have a better understanding of citrus fruits in general, let’s talk about oranges, especially those extra oranges you may have and how to preserve them. There are so many options for preserving so we can break them down by which part you can do what with.
Most people throw away orange peels and simply enjoy a fresh orange. Stop throwing those peels away! Instead, let’s learn how to use them in other ways.
Orange peels can be used in the following ways:
- A 2 to 3-inch piece of orange peel can be placed in brown sugar containers for keeping the sugar soft.
- The peels can be added to white vinegar to make a citrus cleaner.
- You can make herbal teas with the peels to soothe stomach aches. Just boil the orange peels and steep for 10 minutes.
- Orange peels can be turned into citrus salt and citrus sugar for baking and cooking.
- Add the zest fresh to hot drinks for a citrusy flavor. (great in teas)
- Make an orange peel face mask.
- Since the oil in orange peels is flammable you can use them to start a fire.
- Place orange peels and your favorite herb into a pretty bottle of olive oil and place in a dark place for 3 weeks. Strain the oil and place it back in the jar. Makes a great flavoring for frying chicken and fish
- Mix chopped up peels and coffee grounds around your plants to keep the cats away.
- Make orange oil. Simply dry the peels and grind them into almost a powder in a food processor. Place the grounds in a jar and fill the jar with vodka. Shake the jar twice a day for 14 days. Strain the liquid and place the remaining liquid into a shallow type pan, cover, and allow the alcohol to completely evaporate. What’s left will be the orange oil. (CAUTION: orange oil is flammable!)
- Rub fresh orange peels on your skin to keep mosquitoes away.
Preserving the Extra Oranges (the fruit)
Now that you have taken care of the rinds, let’s learn how to save the juicy and delicious part of those extra oranges, the fruit. The possibilities here are endless.
The fleshy part of the oranges can be used in the following ways:
- Make orange juice! Freshly squeezed orange juice will last about 3 days in the fridge and up to 4 months in the freezer. If you do not want the pulp, simply strain after squeezing.
- Clean your kitchen sink. Cut an orange in half and sprinkle the sink with salt. Use half of the orange to scrub in a circular motion. Can be used on cutting boards also. (This can also be done with lemons.)
- Make an exfoliator for your skin. Cut an orange in half and dip it in sugar and rub on your skin. Rinse when finished.
- Freeze the orange segments, pith removed, in a freezer bag in the freezer for up to one year.
- Slice an orange in half and place them in a shallow baking dish. Pour a generous amount of your favorite honey over them and sprinkle with cinnamon or even cinnamon sugar. Bake in a 350-degree oven for about 5 to 10 minutes and serve.
- Make orange salsa. Simply chop up an orange, some red onion, cilantro, and jalapeno, and serve over fish or chicken.
- Make orange jam. Peel the oranges and cut them into chunks. Process in a food processor or blender. Add sugar, pectin, and water and stir. No cooking necessary. Will keep refrigerated up to three weeks – or freeze for longer storage.
Final Thoughts on Using Extra Oranges
Using extra oranges can be a challenge, but with the simple ideas above you can use every part of those extra oranges on your homestead. Have you had to find creative ways of using extra oranges on your homestead that are not mentioned here? Drop me a comment below and share what you have done with them.
Ever found a great deal on Mandarin oranges or nectarines and didn’t know what to with all the extra oranges before they went bad? Try your hand at canning those extra oranges with the free recipe below! Just enter your email and name to get your free ebook!