Should Oranges Be Refrigerated? We Squeezed Out the Truth

Maybe you just do what your parents did. Maybe you prefer the taste of cold fruit to room-temperature tangerines. Maybe you think citrus dries out in the fridge. Whether you’re team fridge or team fruit basket, odds are you don’t budge from the norm when it comes to storing oranges. But it turns out both sides are onto something. Should oranges be refrigerated? The answer is yes…sort of.

Is It Okay to Leave Oranges Out?

An orange starts dying the second it’s picked (like any fruit or vegetable, really) and doesn’t get any riper after being plucked. And like all citrus, they get dry as they age. If you’ve ever been halfway through making pasta limone only to find the last neglected lemon in the fridge is fossilized, you know all too well what we mean. 

Despite the additional drying effect the fridge can have, the cool space is ultimately better for storing oranges. They can live for a few days to one week at room temperature but popping them in the refrigerator extends that to three or four weeks.

To help your oranges stay fresh *and* juicy, there’s an easy compromise. Store them in the fridge and bring to room temperature one at a time as you eat them. That way your oranges last long enough for you to actually enjoy them, all while also tasting their best.

Visible white or green mold is the most obvious sign that an orange is bad. Blemishes and bruises might not be pretty, yet they don’t necessarily mean your sumo orange is rotten. Softness is a sign that it’s about to go bad though, so if your orange is a little squishy, eat it while you still can.

How to Make Oranges Last Longer

  1. Only rinse right before eating. Keeping them dry prevents mold growth.
  2. Keep oranges in the crisper drawer to stretch their shelf life. Unless you only eat locally-picked fruit, your oranges were on a refrigerated truck then warmed up again in the produce section. That fluctuating temperature makes it susceptible to quick rotting if you leave it out.
  3. If you still choose to go with a fruit bowl, store it in a cool, dry spot. And don’t pile the oranges on top of each other. Touching = moisture = fungus.
  4. Don’t cut an orange unless you’re going to eat it shortly after prepping.
  5. Avoid storing in plastic bags or tightly-sealed containers, which speed up molding. Mesh bags are safe if you really want to use one.
  6. It’s no secret that produce in general spoils pretty quickly. Only buy as many oranges as you’re going to eat within a week if you’re leaving them at room temperature, or two weeks if you’re storing them in the fridge.

taryn pire

Food Editor

Taryn Pire is PureWow’s food editor and has been writing about all things delicious since 2016. She’s developed recipes, reviewed restaurants and investigated food trends at...