Those cute little canned mandarin oranges were a staple in my grandmother’s holiday cooking. She’d use them pretty up a fruit salad or decorate the edge of a platter.
I’d spend my time trying to sneak in under her and steal a tiny slice for myself. Now that I have my own little orange thieves underfoot, I’m canning oranges of my own.
Oranges are a high acid food, and they’re perfectly safe for water bath canning. This applies to all types of oranges including navel oranges, mandarins, clementines, and tangerines. The California oranges of my childhood are slightly more acidic than Florida varieties, but they’re all well below a safe canning pH of 4.6.
Preparing Oranges for Canning
Oranges can be canned whole or in segments. Segments tend to work better for larger navel oranges, but smaller clementines are perfect for canning whole. Regardless of whether you can oranges whole or in segments, they obviously need to be peeled.
Remove as much of the white pith as possible, while avoiding puncturing the segment membranes. If you cut into the segments the juice will run into the canning syrup, and they’ll lose flavor that way.
For canning whole oranges, it helps to remove the pith from the center of the orange as well as the big hunk of pith that tends to sit at the flower or navel end of oranges. It can be tricky to remove it without breaking the orange into segments, but if you take a finger and gently slide it through the center of the orange the navel end pith and the stringy interior pith will all come out together.
Creating space in the center of the orange is also helpful to allow the syrup to penetrate into the center of the fruit. For orange segments, simply remove as much pith as possible and break the fruits into individual pieces.
How to Can Oranges
Oranges are usually canned “raw pack” which means that the fruit is packed into the jar without any pre-cooking. A boiling hot syrup is poured over the top before the jars are sealed and processed in a water bath canner.
When canning oranges, choosing the liquid is completely up to you. Straight water is fine from a safety perspective, but it’ll wash out the oranges and leave them flavorless.
It’s generally recommended that you can oranges in a very light, light or medium sugar syrup. Sugar and water measurements for different canning syrups can be found here.
An extra light syrup approximates the amount of natural sugar in the fruit and will help them keep their flavor and sweetness without adding extra. Dissolve sugar in water and bring it to a rolling boil before pouring it over oranges packed in canning jars.
It takes about 2 pounds of orange slices to fill a quart canning jar, and roughly 3/4 of a pound fits in a pint canning jar. For whole oranges, I can fit about 10 clementines in a quart canning jar. That works out to roughly 1 1/2 pounds of whole oranges per quart.
Pack the oranges tightly, as they’ll shrink a bit during canning.
Oranges require 1/2 inch headspace. Both pints and quarts are canned for 10 minutes below 1000 feet in elevation, or 15 minutes up to 6000 feet in elevation.
Canning Oranges ~ Variations
I tend to can oranges in a simple light sugar syrup, which leaves them flexible for future uses. Honey syrup is also a spectacular idea, and you can add spices if you choose.
- The Ball Complete Book of Home Canning suggests canning oranges in a spiced honey syrup, made by dissolving honey in water and simmering it with whole spices such as cinnamon.
- Preserve It! has a tasty recipe for canning oranges in a caramel syrup. The sugar is first cooked into a light caramel syrup before more water is added to make the canning syrup.
Oranges are easy to can at home using a simple water bath canner.
- 15 lbs oranges, peeled and membranes removed
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 10 1/2 cups water
- Peel the oranges and remove as much white membrane as possible. Divide oranges into sections, or leave very small clementines and tangerines whole if desired.
- Pack oranges tightly into canning jars, leaving at least 1/2 inch headspace.
- Bring water and sugar to a boil in a saucepan and stir to dissolve sugar.
- Pour boiling sugar syrup over oranges, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Seal with 2 part canning lids.
- Process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes below 1000 feet (both pints and quarts). Increase time to 15 minutes for 1000 to 6000 feet in elevation.
Recipe yields a full canner bath of 7 quarts, canned in extra light syrup. Significantly fewer oranges are needed for canning whole oranges.
More Ways to Preserve Citrus
Looking for more ways to preserve citrus this season? Here are some of my favorite canning recipes:
- Orange Jam
- Salt Preserved Lemons
- Canning Lemons (3 Ways)
- Canning Lemon Curd
- Citrus Seed Pectin for Canning
- Kumquat Jam
Love the canned oranges. Thanks
Love canning recipes.
How long does this style of canned oranges generally last in the pantry? This recipe never occured to me, but I am DELIGHTED to learn this method.
Thank you for sharing
They should last about a year to 18 months with good quality, at least that’s the best information I can find. My kids ate these up much faster than that, so I can’t say from personal experience.
I made this but my whole batch tasted weird. The orange segment tasted slightly rotten in the center. Where did I go wrong? Cans sealed and water bath did fine? Help!! I used clementines.
Interesting…we also used clementines. I’ve found that there is a lot of variation in clementine quality around here, and sometimes I get them at the store and they’re just horrible. Did you try a few before you canned them? Have you tried more than one out of the jar?
Jason M. Thompson
Can a pressure cooker be used in place of a water bath? If so, how long would be needed?
Since a pressure canner cooks at a hotter temperature, the oranges would be safe if canned in a pressure canner, but they might be lower quality. I haven’t tried it, but the temperatures in pressure canning might cause them to degrade. I don’t know this either way, but since they’re high acid, pressure canning is kind of overkill.
That said, I get this question a lot on my water bath canning recipes as I know there are some people that just prefer to pressure can everything out of an abundance of caution. I’m not an expert at converting water bath recipes to pressure canning recipes, but I’d use the lowest pressure on a weighted pressure canner (5lbs). I cannot say with certainty on time, but I would think that just bringing it up to temp at 5lbs of pressure would mean that the jars are at or above sterilization temperatures for more than the required 10-minute water bath can time, but I cannot guarantee that since I haven’t tested it. For an abundance of caution, using the 10-minute water bath time in a pressure canner at 5lbs of pressure should be more than adequate.
Good luck, and let me know how it goes quality wise if you try it.
I have often used my pressure canner without the top on so it is a water bath canner instead. This saves me from having to get my water bath canner from the basement when I already have my pressure canner out. I just use a different lid (I actually use a pizza pan as a lid). I could use the pressure canner lid and just not seal it closed, but I am afraid the dry heat coming up the outside of the pan may damage the rubber gasket.
Can you can mandrian oranges without sugar?
Yes, the sugar is not necessary for safe canning, but with no sugar, they’ll lose sweetness to the canning liquid. Flavor may not be the best…
How do you use the oranges after their cake and just eat them or do you cook with them do they turn out mushy
Ours didn’t turn out mushy, they were much like the canned mandarins you can get at the store. My little ones just ate them, but my grandmother used to use them to decorate her ambrosia salad for the holidays.
Hi There ! I am canning grapefruit and orange section today…Can I use the juice from the fruit and just add sugar to that, then raw pack. I have so much juice ! Thank You !
Yes, canning in juice is a great option. Enjoy!
Thank You So Much for replying ! I’m good to go now !
Mary A Patterson
What is the self life?
They should last a year to 18 months.
if someone doesnt want to use sugar maybe a white grape juice or apple juice? something that would compliment but not overpower the orange flavor..
You can definitely can these in apple or grape juice, or use the concentrate as a source of sugar in the syrup. Either way.
Thanks for Sharing this Recipe ,After I’am done with the Oranges I’am going to start on Carrots and follow your Recipes, Thanks again for sharing
I used mandarin oranges and canned as directed but when my husband tried some he said they tasted bitter What did I do wrong? When I bought them they all were very ripe and ready to go so I’m not sure were I went wrong
Hmmm…My best guess is there was either pith in there that was particularly bitter? The white part can be really bitter, more so in some varieties. Lacking that, I’d say maybe it’s just that particular variety? Hard to say, since mandarins are usually great for this. My only troubleshooting advice is to really try to pull off every last bit of white part from the oranges if you have bitterness issues. With clementines, mine didn’t come out bitter even with quite a bit on there, so it really varies by variety I think.
Thank you for your reply. I cant fin clementines at my store but do have smaller navels. I’m gonna try them and see how they turn out. I love this canning method and my hubby loves oranges Thank you
You need to use a product called pectase, which is a enzyme that eats the bitter white stuff off the segments. If you don’t soak them in a dilute bath of this stuff, every single jar will taste bitter. You really can’t get the pith off any other way.
Thank you for that info. All of mine are bitter as well. I did navel and mandarin and they both are bitter. My son was so disappointed as was I because it took me over an hour just peeling them.
If you put a slice or 2 of grapefruit in the jar they won’t turn bitter.
Thank you!! I will do this next time. All of mine taste quite bitter also, similar to a grapefruit. I spent hours peeling and removing the pith so I’m not sure that I could have manually removed any more than I did. I can eat them but my kids didn’t even want to chew them lol
I had the same problem the first time I canned oranges. I now remove the segments from the “skin” , no more bitterness, only delicious oranges. I do the same with grapefruit.
I’d like to try this using a syrup made of honey and water. Does that sound safe? And tasty? Thanks
Yes, you can definitely use honey/water as a syrup. Honey is totally fine in place of sugar for any canning recipe, and this one’s not based on the sugar for safety anyway. You can use as much or as little sugar/honey in the water as you like. Sounds tasty too!
Have you ever used Pectinex before? I have heard that it works to disolve the pith. Any thoughts about it?
Thanks for your time.
I’ve never used it in canning (or heard of pectinex before), but I would imagine it works the same way as the pectic enzyme I use for winemaking. It may well work to dissolve the pith, but I’d assume it’d also degrade all the pectin within the oranges and change their texture (making the whole thing slimy). That’s an assumption though, if you try it, let me know how it goes!
Humm..in order to remove as much pith as possible, would you think that sectioning off into pieces instead of keeping the clementines and/or navels would be ok?.. maybe this way more of the syrup or sweetness would be able to get incorporated better?
Yup, and they’re easier to eat that way too. My daughter really loved the idea of packing whole oranges in there, but sections are much more practical really.
I have some clementines that need to do this with but it may only be a single jar.. can I add the syrup, then just place in the fridge?
Yup, canning is totally optional, but they keep well in as a fridge recipe too.
Thank you! This is great to know.
I had the last of our Satsumas in the fridge and was wondering what on earth I could do with them before they all went bad. Then I saw your post on canning oranges. Well, I canned several jars this morning and they turned out wonderfully. So delicious! Thank you so much! Now we can enjoy our Satsumas year round!
Robin E Benge
I have a tree of those oranges,I’m glad you asked. I have probably about a hundred that need to be picked and I have no clue what to do with them I’m going to can some but I’m not sure what to do with some of them too I want to try something else any ideas
You could dehydrate them or make some jam.
I use satsumas to make satsumacello. It is the satsuma version of limoncello. Then, I just canned the insides following the above recipe and will let you know how it turns out. Two seals failed, so they are in the fridge. On one of those that failed, the syrup looks a little cloudy. I haven’t opened it to taste. Do you think this might be an issue?
We typically keep our limoncello on the freezer. I haven’t tried this particular method so I’m not entirely sure. Maybe do an internet search for canning drunken fruit to see if you can find more information.
This is great! My kids love mandarin oranges from the can and I never thought of preserving them from home. Can’t wait to try it.
Can you use monk fruit sweetener or erythritol in place of sugar or honey or juice?
That is a good question, but one that I sadly don’t have an answer to. The sugar is not required for canning safety, and you can just can them in water or fruit juice. The thing is, I have no idea how monkfruit or erythritol are for canning. Are they canning safe or do they clump, alter the pH, or have some other unintended consequences? I don’t know, and given how new they are I’m not sure there’s any canning research done on them.
In Europe monkfruit are not considered safe for consumption; I’m not sure what the advice is for USA, Canada and rest of the world. I know in Hong Kong monkfruit is used in sore throat and cough remedies.
In the US, monk fruit has been deemed “generally recognized as safe” although it is fairly new. Regulations may be different in other countries.
How long do the canned oranges last?
When properly stored, they can last a year or more.
Thanks for this, we have 4 satsuma trees and always have more satsumas than we know what to do with. For the measurement of pounds of fruit, is it supposed to weigh that much before or after it’s peeled?
I would start with about 15 pounds with the peel still on. It will take about two pounds of slices without the peel to fill a quart jar and 3/4 of a pound to fill a pint. If you are using whole clementines, you can get about 10 full oranges in a quart jar or 1 1/2 pounds.
I’m worried that if I put the jars into boiling water, they will crack. This has happened to me before. Should I put them into warm water and then bring them to a boil?
When you use the raw pack method, you are pouring your boiling syrup over top of the oranges in the jar. This will heat up the jars enough that they shouldn’t crack when you put them into the canner.
Wondering if I can just peel and freeze satsumas? Will they come out mushy when I defrost?
I have been juicing thrm, freezing juice and making satsuma pepper jelly from the juice but want to keep some “ just plain” in freezer for other uses
Most people peel them and section them before freezing. You can freeze them on a cookie sheet and then put them in freezer bags. They would work great in a smoothie or other recipes.
I just put my filled jars in my canner, fill with warm water, put it on the stove, and let everything come up to temp at the same time. I start timing when the water starts boiling.
I have never tried this. Its look delicious and interesting. Thanks. I ll make it.
Can I prepare them as above but freeze them instead of canning?
Yes, that should work just fine.
I am getting 20 pounds of Satsumas this weekend and I am so excited to try canning them! I love your website!
That’s awesome. So glad you’re enjoying the website.
We canned Satsuma’s in an electric water bath canner for 10 minutes, they turned out very mushy. Not quite sure what may have went wrong. Any suggestions.
Did you use the raw pack method?
Yes, peeled the satsumas put them in prepared jars and filled to a half inch with sugar water (boiling).
Hmmmmm… I am not sure what would have caused that. Maybe it was the quality of the satsumas.
OH my gosh, so glad I stumbled on this , I’m a new canner and I have a tangerine tree in the back , and now I know what I can do with a lot of them .. wahoooo thank you
I canned naval oranges and some tangerines tonight and noticed after I took them out of the water bath and they popped that the liquid level had dropped considerably leaving some fruit at the top exposed.. my questions are 1. What causes this? 2. Should I reprocess the jars and add additional liquid? 3. Since all the jars sealed would the fruit still be fine?
This is not a safety concern and as long as the jars have sealed, they should be fine. It will most likely affect the shelf life of the food though. The food that is above the liquid may start to discolor. If your liquid level is less than half, then there could be a safety concern. You would need to break the seals on those, place them in the refrigerator and use them within a few days. There are several reasons why this might occur. It could be improper cool-down procedures, hidden air in the jar, lid-related issues, or water bath canning issues when lids are not sufficiently covered with water.
Patricia M Elsasser
Would it still be 10 minutes of processing time for half pints? Doing a small bag just to see how they turn out.
Yes it would be the same processing time.
I just canned my first batch of Clementines! Jars sealed just fine BUT, in each jar, some of the oranges have brown spots. What is that all about? Could they have been bruised spots??? They didn’t feel soft before canning. They also tasted great before canning! HELP! I don’t want to bother doing the next 2 bags full if this is a problem. Thank you.
Were the brown spots found on oranges that were at the top of the jar that weren’t covered by the liquid or is it all throughout?
I am unable to locate where the Ball Canning instructions allow for whole oranges. Only sections or slices. My guess is that whole oranges do not allow the heat to kill any spores/botulism in such a dense area. Could you please direct me to the safe canning site you used?
I don’t have a specific reference to give you. Most people like to separate the segments to allow room for more oranges in the jar but some people choose to leave them whole. I don’t think that a mandarin orange is probably any more dense than a whole tomato. If you feel safer canning them in segments then that’s probably what I would recommend doing.
Hey I was wondering
I made a light syrup with honey
(Boiled the water with honey)
Then I let the syrup cool down on it’s own and packed the jars to water-bath in cold water (cold pack?) until it reaches a rolling boil for 10 minutes….is it safe this way?
I always wondered if it made a difference to wait for the food to cooled down before packing
Also I read some honey can have higher ph so I’m wondering if it’s really safe…
Yes, you can definitely use honey as a syrup for your oranges. Your processing time should be 10 minutes after the water starts boiling. There isn’t any reason why you can’t use syrup that has cooled but it’s a lot quicker to go ahead and do it while it’s hot.
My husband will eat mandarins by the can as many times as he can until my supply runs out (speaking about commercially canned) he likes segments what is the down side of canning segments, I plan to can in 1/2 pts. in a very light syrup, using store bought mandarins. thank you L
There really isn’t a downside to canning the segments other than the time that it takes to break them into segments.
I found your site recently and found some things to try. I just processed 8 pints of clementines for the first time. I am excited. Your site is organized and pictures speak volumes. Thanks!
You’re very welcome. So glad you enjoyed the post.
I have a steamer for canning. How long should I steam the canned mandarin orange
You can safely adjust water bath canning recipes for the steam canner. Here is an article that explains the adjustments that you will want to make. https://fyi.extension.wisc.edu/safefood/2020/08/18/an-update-on-safe-use-of-steam-canners/
can i use grated orange peel to up the orange taste if it is organic or does the oil affect the process?
That should be fine. What I’d suggest though, is making an “orange sugar” with the zest and then turning that into your canning syrup, then straining the peel out. You’ll have really orang-y syrup that way, but no zest chunks (and zest can get bitter in jars over time). I describe that process in my article on canning lemonade concentrate (which would be the same, but just with orange zest instead, and no juice…) Info here: https://creativecanning.com/canning-lemonade/
I just watched a video wherein a woman placed tangerines in a jar, poured boiled water over, capped the jar and left it to sit for 15 minutes. She then drained the water and poured in boiled simple syrup to the top and tightened on the lid with a special tool that seemed to seal it. Nothing more. No canning. Is this safe?
No, this is not a safe canning procedure. The lids will seal themselves on a hot jar with no special tool needed. A sealed lid does not necessarily equal safely canned food. Food must be processed for the proper amount of time under the proper conditions in order to be safe. This process varies depending on the food that is being canned.
Thanks. That unfortunately confirms what I thought. I definitely appreciate your knowledge.
You’re very welcome.