Are oranges supposed to be refrigerated? If you’ve ever had oranges grow mold on your counter, you might be asking yourself this question.
Yes Oranges do have to be refrigerated. They need to stay cool because they are shipped to the grocery store already ripe. So they will overripen and spoil if they sit on your countertop.
How long can you keep oranges in the fridge? Is there any other way to store oranges on the countertop without them spoiling? Read on to find out!
What makes oranges spoil?
Several different factors can cause oranges to spoil. Most of them involve damage to the skin, which protects the tender fruit inside.
Injuries like bruising or piercing can cause oranges to spoil. If the insides of the fruit are exposed bacteria can get inside. This bacteria causes the fruit to spoil.
A variety of things can cause injuries. The first is in transit. Sometimes, as the fruits get jostled around, they can become damaged. This damage can also happen while the fruit is being picked.
The second way they can become damaged is by insects. They will pierce through the thick rind of the orange, thus exposing it to bacteria.
Fungus or disease
Sometimes oranges can get sick. These fungi or diseases can speed up the ripening process, eventually causing the orange to rot. Some of these fungi cause rot before the orange goes shipping. But, some can happen after the orange is already at the grocery store.
One such fungus is blue mold. Blue mold often doesn’t show itself immediately. It needs a warm, moist environment to grow like the fruit bowl on your table. That’s why it’s also called storage rot. Unfortunately, this can also easily spread from one fruit to another.
Ethylene is the gas that fruits emit as they ripen. This gas actually signals to other fruits that they also need to ripen. So if your fruit is stored in a place that isn’t properly ventilated, like a bowl or bag on the counter, the whole batch will quickly over ripen.
There are a few steps you can take to keep orange from rotting. Most of them revolve around keeping the rind of the orange intact. The others revolve around ventilation and temperature.
Refrigeration is best
It’s always best to refrigerate your oranges. This is because not only does your refrigerator keep your oranges at the right temperature, it also keeps them well ventilated. This ventilation keeps the ethylene from collecting around the fruits. Refrigerators keep oranges ripe for up to a month.
Your refrigerator also prevents mold and fungus growth. Part of this protection comes from ventilation. The other part comes from the temperature. It is simply too cold in your fridge for most fungi to grow.
The final reason refrigeration is best is because it protects the oranges from insects. Most insects prefer 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit in order to survive. The temperature in your fridge often kills bugs or makes them hibernate. The seal around your fridge also keeps them from getting to the fruit.
Use airtight containers
If you’re trying to store cut oranges it’s best to use an airtight container. This is because the rind actually acts as an airtight container for the inner fruit. But, if you cut the orange open, it’s then exposed to all sorts of bacteria. Putting it in an airtight container in the fridge keeps the bacteria out and prolongs freshness.
Freeze your oranges
Sometimes it’s a good idea to freeze oranges. This is a good option if you plan to use them later in baking or juicing. Store the fruit in a zip-top bag and remove all the air. Then you can store it in the freezer for up to a year. Just remember that the longer they are in the freezer, the less tasty they become!
Avoid direct sunlight
Direct sunlight will cause your oranges to ripen faster. So, if you do decide to store them on the counter, make sure they are away from any windows. That will help prolong their freshness.
Check freshness before you purchase
It’s always a good rule of thumb to check the freshness of your produce before you bring it home. If you’re planning on using those oranges the same day you can safely get oranges that are a little more ripe. Otherwise, choose oranges that are a little less ripe so they last longer.
Keep the oranges dry
You should always keep your oranges dry. Excess moisture is a breeding ground for bacteria and fungi. Keeping your oranges dry will help keep the little critters at bay! Keeping the fruit in a ventilated bag is also a good idea, but you should make sure that bag stays clean and dry too!
Juice your oranges
Juicing your oranges is a creative way to increase freshness! Once you have the juice you can either drink it right away or freeze it for later use. You can then add it to mixed drinks, thaw it to drink alone, or blend it into smoothies!
Having your oranges spoil not long after you bring them home from the store can be frustrating. But, luckily, there are some steps you can take to preserve their freshness! The best way to do this is by keeping them in the crisper drawer of your fridge.
If you don’t have a fridge just be sure to keep the oranges clean, dry, and away from direct sunlight. Also keep an eye out for any bugs! That will prolong their freshness.