Freeze Dried Oranges

 

Have You Ever Eaten Freeze Dried Oranges?

Soon to be freeze dried oranges.

I would be willing to bet that most folks would utter a resounding, “NO!” to that question.  The idea of eating freeze dried oranges never enters their mind – because, they’re only used to eating freshly peeled oranges.

Most of us buy oranges in bags of 3 pounds – 5 pounds – or more.  And, what happens to a good many oranges in that bag?

Spoiled Oranges

Those round, orange orbs hang around on the kitchen counter – or in the refrigerator – until they start to rot.

Ever had that experience?

It’s disappointing to have an “orange yen” – only to reach out and discover that the remaining oranges are all in different stages of spoilage.

Since I became a Harvest Right Home Freeze Dryer addict, I never have that problem anymore!  I just freeze dry all the oranges that I can’t eat in a week or so – and, then when I have my “orange yen”, I can get my orange fix with my stock of freeze dried oranges.

 

Here’s How I Freeze Dry Oranges…

With my standard sized Harvest Right Freeze Dryer, I can load 4 trays full of orange sections.  That equates to about 6 sectioned oranges per tray – or about 2 dozen oranges per batch.

That’s a whole lot of peeling!  But – never fear – over the course of time, I’ve developed a “peeling procedure” that works well for me.

 

Jim’s Orange Peeling Technique

core each end of the orangesscore the orange peels into quartersspread open each orange and separate it into 4 or more sections

 

 

 

 

Harvest Right Silicone Mats

The first thing I do is core each end of the oranges.

Then, I score the orange peels into quarters – which make it very easy to remove the peels in large sections – as opposed to piece meal picking at the peels.  This method makes the process go much quicker and much less a pain in my backside.

After removing all the orange peels, I spread open each orange and separate it into 4 or more sections – and load the trays.

NOTE:  It is best to use some Harvest Right Silicone Mats – to keep the orange sections from sticking to the trays.

 

Now, Let’s Create Freeze Dried Oranges

Now, there’s nothing left to do but place my 4 trays of orange sections into the freeze dryer and…

  • Push “START.”
  • Choose “LIQUID” – since the oranges are heavily saturated with orange juice.
  • Pick “NOT FROZEN.”
  • Close the drain valve. The valve is “closed” when it’s at right angles to the drain tube.  The valve is “open” when it’s in line with the drain tube.  More info can be found in Harvest Right Freeze Dryer Operation.
  • Finally, select “CONTINUE” – and the freeze dryer is off to the races.

A look at my oranges before the freeze drying process:

oranges before the freeze drying process

Here are the same oranges after a thorough freeze drying:

oranges after a thorough freeze drying

As you can see, much of the orange-ish color was eliminated during the freeze drying process.

TIP:  To make certain that the orange slices are thoroughly freeze dried, break open a couple of the thicker ones and check the centers for dryness.

 

Preparing Freeze Dried Oranges For Long Term Storage

Mason jars for storage

I normally use Mason jars for storage – and flatten out the freeze dried oranges as I load the jars – to maximize the use of jar space.  When I am short on jars, I’ll opt for Foodsaver bags.

  • Fill the Mason jars a little short of the top and add one 100cc oxygen absorber to each.
  • Place a lid on top of each jar.
  • Seat the Mason jar attachment on the jar – and, plug the attachment into the Foodsaver Vacuum System.
  • After putting a good vacuum seal on the jars, I normally add the screw-on metal bands – tightened very lightly. NOTE:  Too much pressure from the screw-on bands can pop the lid and destroy the vacuum seal – either now – or at a later time.
  • Label all jars with the name of the contents and vacuum seal date.

Now, the Mason jars full of freeze dried oranges are ready to store on the shelf – for up to 25 years!

TIP:  Periodically check the jars full of freeze dried oranges for signs of moisture being absorbed.  It’s easy to tell if the oranges are sucking up moisture because, the orange color will start to become more vivid.  Evidence of moisture may indicate that the jar is not vacuum sealed or the time between removal from the freeze dryer and vacuum sealing was too long and allowed for the dried oranges to soak up some moisture from the surrounding air.

 

Reconstituting Freeze Dried Oranges

soaking oranges in room temperature water

It takes about a half hour – soaking in room temperature water – to bring the freeze dried oranges back to their original moist texture.

I start with the oranges’ flesh pointing downward into the water for 15 to 20 minutes.  Then, I flip them over – sunny side up – for another 10 to 20 minutes.

Then, lo and behold – I have orange slices that taste and feel just like they came from a freshly peeled orange straight from the supermarket!

reconstituted oranges mixed with orange-flavored Tang

I like to make my own orange juice using reconstituted oranges mixed with orange-flavored Tang.

It’s easy to just throw a couple of oranges worth of freeze dried orange sections into my Ninja – with the appropriate amount of water and Tang.  What I get is orange juice that is much tastier than anything bought in a store – and, I can control the amount of pulp (I love “pulpy” orange juice!) by the number of dried orange sections added.

 

So, What Do You Think?

Is it worth your while to make some freeze dried oranges?  I know it is for me!  I freeze dry anything – and everything – ever since I got my very own Harvest Right Home Freeze Dryer!

Drop a comment below or email me – and tell me if you’re as much as an “orange addict” as I am!

 

Jim, the Lifelong Gardener

jim@perfect-vegetable-garden.com

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