Oranges are highly scrumptious, nutritious as well as energy giving foods.
As part of citrus fruits, oranges are loaded with vitamin C, antioxidants and offer a wide range of nutritious benefits. That is why the emphasis on consumption of foods rich in vitamin C is prevalent, especially on children.
Besides juicing and eating oranges, you may be lost on other ideas on how to use and store them.
Knowing how best to handle oranges can minimise spoilage, increase their shelf life and enable you reap maximum benefits from them.
Determining the Shelf Life of Oranges
It can be an uphill task to tell how long oranges can last. Prior to purchasing them, you may not really tell when they were brought to the grocery store.
However, you can know how long the oranges will last if you have harvested them yourself.
Knowing how to select oranges will also help.
Fresh, ripe oranges tend to have a sweet, citrusy odor. The skin is also glossy and bright. A ripe orange should be firm to the touch.
On the other hand, an overripe orange will easily dent, the skin will have bruises, discoloration in some parts and will give off a strong fermented odor.
How to Use Oranges
Eat them as they are
- Simply slice them into wedges or peel off the rind.
- For a refreshing juice, simply squeeze the oranges to a pulp.
The orange zest is valuable in baking. It imparts a rich, moist flavor on baked goods. Only use the rind. The whitish part (pith) gives off a bitter taste and is not palatable. The zest can also be dried and made into sweet candied peel.
To Make Marmalade
This is a preserve made from boiling sliced oranges with the peel, sugar and water. Spices such as cinnamon can be added.
Marmalade is popular as a spread on toast, muffins or cookies. It can also be added in hot sauces as a glaze.
Oranges work well with roast meat such as pork, chicken or game meat.
When used as a marinade, the citrus juice and flesh tenderize the meat and impart rich flavor. You can also slice the oranges into rings and grill them.
If you have run out of your usual facial cleanser, oranges can work wonders on your skin. Simply splash some orange juice on your face and massage well.
The citrus elements work well to remove clogged impurities as well as brighten the skin. For a mask, you can combine some orange juice with baking soda and gently exfoliate your skin.
For a fresh, springy atmosphere at home, use oranges to freshen your home.
The zest, juice or oil can be added onto your usual cleaning detergents. Not only is it antibacterial, it is also a wonderful air freshener.
Orange essential oil is also a versatile household item to have. It is therapeutic, can be added onto bath water for a calming effect, body creams as well as in incense burners to wade off pesky flies and insects.
How to Store Oranges
Like with all natural items, oranges will rot at some point. The major defining factor is the storage condition.
In The Pantry or Kitchen Counter
A cool, dry area is ideal for most items. Storing whole oranges in the pantry or on the kitchen counter is ideal if you intend to exhaust the oranges quickly.
Oranges can keep well within one week, if they were firm from the beginning. Extending their stay on the pantry or room temperature can lead to loss of moisture which will make them shrink.
A dry area prevents the growth of mold which hastens ripening and rotting.
For already sliced oranges, their shelf life depreciates quickly and are best consumed within a day if left at room temperature. You can whip up a quick smoothie, juice the pieces or bake an orange flavored cake. You can also wrap them in cling film and refrigerate overnight to be used the following day.
To prolong their shelf life, you can refrigerate whole oranges. Watch out for any bruises on the peel as this will enhance rotting. Place the oranges in a clean plastic bag and store in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator. Such oranges can keep well for up to one month.
Well-frozen oranges can last close to a year. This is best achieved by slicing the oranges either into slices or wedges.
Make a syrup by boiling 2 parts sugar and 4 parts water until it reduces into a thick syrup. Allow the syrup to cool and mix the orange sections with the syrup.
Place the mixture into Ziploc bags or tightly sealable containers and freeze.
One of the best ways to use oranges and other citrus fruits is to make marmalade. No fancy equipment are needed.
Boil the entire oranges, including the peel in water and sugar. The mixture should reduce into a thick consistency before your pour it onto mason jars.
Allow the marmalade to ferment overnight before using.
Unlike marmalade, canning oranges involves using only the flesh and juice. The orange peel and pith are removed completely as they cause a bitter taste.
For canning, you will require canning jars, sugar and water. After peeling the oranges, pack them tightly inside the canning jars when whole or sliced, making sure to leave space at the top.
Prepare syrup and while still hot, pour the syrup over the oranges and seal the cans tightly. Place them on a water bath for several minutes before storage.
Another fantastic preservation method is drying. This can be achieved in two ways:
Drying Naturally Using Sunlight
An age-old tradition of preserving food items is to simply use the sunlight. For oranges, wash and slice them into your preferred shapes and spread them onto a tray or wire mesh.
Place them outside, preferable where there is minimum obstruction such as the roof and leave them for a few days.
Store them in tightly sealable containers or Ziploc bags.
Using a Dehydrator
A more modern approach is to use a dehydrator if you have one at home. It extracts all the juices from the oranges and dries them completely.
The slices are loaded onto trays and placed onto the dehydrator. The duration can last from 5 to 12 hours. Store them in airtight containers and use as you wish.
When handling dried oranges, soak them in water before using as it helps to remove any impurities and soften them.
How to Identify Spoiled Oranges
Discoloured and Wilted Skin
A clear indication of spoilage in oranges is by their appearance. An overripe orange which starts to rot will have wilted and dry skin. It will also have dark brown or black patches.
Another sign of spoilage is a shriveled orange which looks smaller than its actual size.
A Strong Odor
A spoiled orange will give off a fermented odor even when uncut.
Blackened, Gel-Like Flesh
Always discard an orange whose flesh has turned color and has thick, stringy juice. This is a clear indication of spoilage.
Oranges are highly versatile fruits to stock at home. They come in handy in so many ways, thus it is crucial to know how best to store them so as to increase their shelf life.