Freezing Citrus: Does It Work?

Freezing Citrus Fruits


Freezing Citrus Fruits

When we learned that one of our customers was freezing her mandarins whole, thawing, and eating them just like fresh ones, we had to try it ourselves. We’d never heard of such a thing before! The results were surprising. Here’s what we learned.


Every winter, we bring in several truckloads of fresh oranges, grapefruits, satsumas, mandarins, lemons, limes, minneolas, and Meyer lemons from California and Texas, and deliver them across the state of Tennessee. To pre-order your fruit during the late fall and winter, visit our current order form here. Or sign up to be notified when it’s time to order.


Frozen Mandarins

We froze a bagful of mandarins whole, with the peel still on and then thawed some of them on the counter and some in the fridge. The results were the same for both.

Texture: I was expecting mushy oranges, but, we were surprised to find that the texture of frozen mandarins is almost indistinguishable from fresh ones. The cells didn’t seem to be broken down at all, and the sections held their shape nicely.

Flavor: The flavor of the frozen mandarins we sampled seemed less bright than fresh ones. Still very good, just not bursting with flavor.

Peel: The peel came off of the frozen mandarins just as easily as usual, when the mandarins are fresh. It was a little soggy, but not bad.

Conclusion: Although they’re better fresh, we’ll definitely take advantage of this freezing technique the next time we have more mandarins than we can use. And it would be delightful to make each box last a little longer this way.

These pictures were taken after our mandarins were frozen and then thawed a few days later. They look pretty good, don’t they?

Frozen Mandarins 1

Frozen Mandarins

Minneolas & Oranges

We froze our minneolas and navels peeled but not sectioned, sealed up in zip top bags.

My goal with the oranges was to have something zippy to add to many of our favorite smoothie recipes, and these were just perfect. If I let them thaw somewhat, they could be sectioned and tossed into the blender like ice cubes, but I discovered they were fairly easy to cut with a knife right out of the deep freezer. That worked best, because I didn’t need to plan ahead.

I’ve also reached for my frozen oranges and minneolas a few times when fresh orange juice was needed in a recipe, which saved me a trip to the store.

Again, in our opinion, the flavor was diminished a little once the oranges were frozen. But they were still quite good.

Freezing Lemons

The easiest way to freeze lemons is to juice them first and pour the juice into ice cube trays. Once the cubes are frozen, pop them out into zip top bags and put them back into the freezer.

The peels also freeze well and can be zested later for recipes. I use a hand-held grater while the rinds are still frozen.

Why Lemons 2