Ultimate Guide to Preserved Oranges: Uses & Recipes

Imagine opening your pantry to find a jar of glistening preserved oranges, their vibrant color a promise of zesty flavors waiting to enhance your dishes. This culinary gem, with roots tracing back to ancient times, has been a staple in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines for centuries. The art of preserving oranges transforms the fruit into a versatile ingredient that can add a unique twist to both sweet and savory recipes.

Preserved oranges are remarkably simple to make yet offer an explosion of taste. Whether you’re looking to elevate a simple roast, add complexity to salads, or give a citrusy punch to desserts, these oranges are your go-to ingredient. Let’s dive into how you can create this delightful preserve right in your kitchen, ensuring you always have a touch of sunshine on hand, no matter the season.


  • 4 large organic oranges, thoroughly washed
  • 4 tablespoons of sea salt
  • 1 cup of freshly squeezed orange juice (preferably from the oranges you are preserving)
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Optional spices (such as cinnamon sticks, cloves, or star anise for added flavor)

Equipment Needed

To make your own preserved oranges, you need the right equipment to ensure the process is smooth and successful. Here’s what you’ll require:

  • Sharp Knife: Essential for slicing the oranges accurately and safely. Ensure it’s well-sharpened to make clean cuts.
  • Cutting Board: Opt for a large, stable cutting board to provide a solid surface for cutting and help contain the juice that escapes during slicing.
  • Glass Jars with Lids: Mason jars or similar glass containers are ideal for storing your preserved oranges. Choose jars that can be sealed tightly to ensure the preservation process is effective.
  • Large Mixing Bowl: Needed for mixing the oranges with salt and spices before transferring them to the jars.
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons: To accurately measure your salt, spices, and juices, reliable measuring tools are crucial.
  • Wooden Spoon or Spatula: Useful for stirring the oranges, salt, and spices together and for packing the oranges tightly in the jars.

Gathering these tools before you begin will streamline your preparation process, making it easier for you to focus on creating delicious preserved oranges.


Begin the process by ensuring everything needed is within reach to streamline your experience in making preserved oranges. This preparation segment will guide you through the initial steps to get your materials and ingredients ready.

Washing and Drying Oranges

Start by thoroughly washing your organic oranges under cold running water to remove any residues or impurities from the skins. It’s important to scrub the surfaces gently using a dedicated fruit brush to ensure that all dirt and potential pesticides are eliminated. After washing, pat the oranges dry with a clean kitchen towel or let them air dry on a wire rack. This step is crucial since any moisture left on the skin can affect the preservation process.

Sterilizing Jars

Proper sterilization of jars is essential to prevent contamination and to keep your preserved oranges safe and long-lasting. First, wash the glass jars and their lids with hot, soapy water. Rinse them thoroughly to remove any soap residue. Next, place the jars and lids separately in a large pot filled with water, ensuring they are fully submerged. Bring the water to a boil and let it simmer for about 10 minutes. Carefully remove the jars and lids with tongs, and place them on a clean towel to dry completely. This method ensures that your jars are sterilized and ready for storing your preserved oranges.


Following the preparation of your ingredients and equipment, let’s move on to the actual preserving process. These detailed steps will guide you through ensuring your preserved oranges are flavorful and lasting.

Cutting the Oranges

  1. Begin by placing your clean, dry oranges on a cutting board.
  2. Using a sharp knife, slice off the top and bottom of each orange just enough to expose the flesh.
  3. Stand the orange upright and carefully cut down the sides, following the curve of the fruit, to remove the skin and white pith. Aim to keep as much of the orange flesh intact as possible.
  4. Once peeled, slice the oranges into quarter-inch thick rounds. If you prefer, you can also segment the oranges by cutting between the membranes to release individual sections.

Preparing the Brine

  1. Start by sprinkling a thin layer of sea salt at the bottom of your sterilized glass jar.
  2. Place a layer of the orange slices over the salt, arranging them so they overlap slightly.
  3. Sprinkle another layer of salt over the oranges. The salt should cover the oranges but not be overly thick.
  4. Continue with this pattern—orange slices followed by salt—until all orange slices are in the jar or the jar is filled to about an inch below the rim.
  5. Gently press down on the layers with a clean spoon or your fingers to compact the slices slightly and to help release some of their juices, which will mix with the salt to start the preservation process.
  6. Seal the jar tightly with its lid and store in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

Flavor Variations

Experimenting with different spices and sweeteners can transform your preserved oranges from simple to sensational. Here’s how to spice up or sweeten your batch.

Adding Spices and Herbs

To enhance the aromatic profile of your preserved oranges, consider incorporating various spices and herbs into the jars. Start by adding a cinnamon stick or a few star anise pods to each jar before sealing. These spices offer a warm, spicy note that pairs beautifully with the citrus. For a more Mediterranean flavor, add a couple of sprigs of fresh rosemary or thyme. When adding herbs, be sure to wash them thoroughly and pat them dry. This prevents any moisture from compromising the preservation process.

Sweet Preservation Options

If you prefer a sweeter take on preserved oranges, you can modify the basic recipe by incorporating natural sweeteners. A popular choice is to add a tablespoon of honey or a sprinkle of sugar to the layers of oranges and salt. This addition not only balances the saltiness but also encourages a richer flavor development during the preservation period. Another delightful option is to pour a little maple syrup over the oranges before sealing the jars, giving them a distinct, woodsy sweetness that complements the tangy oranges perfectly. Ensure that all sweeteners are well distributed by gently shaking the jars after sealing.

Storing Preserved Oranges

Once you have skillfully prepared your preserved oranges, proper storage is key to maintaining their freshness and flavor.

Short-Term Storage

For short-term storage, keep your preserved oranges in the refrigerator. Place the jar in the coolest part of your fridge, typically at the back of a lower shelf. This environment is ideal as it is dark and cold, which helps slow down any fermentation activity that may still occur after the jarring process. Your preserved oranges will stay fresh and tasty for up to 4 weeks when stored this way. Ensure the jar’s lid is tightly sealed each time you use the oranges to keep them well preserved.

Long-Term Storage

If you plan to keep your preserved oranges for more than a month, consider storing them in a cool, dry pantry or a cellar where the temperature is consistent and away from direct sunlight. In these conditions, your preserved oranges can last up to a year. Always check that the seal on your jar is intact before long-term storage to avoid any exposure to air, which could spoil the oranges. Remember, the longer the oranges sit in their preserving liquids, the more pronounced their flavors will become, enriching any dish they are added to.

Serving Suggestions

Preserved oranges add a vibrant touch to many dishes with their unique blend of sweet, salty, and tangy flavors. Here are some delightful ways to incorporate them into your meals:

Incorporate Into Salads

Toss chunks or slices of your preserved oranges into green salads for a refreshing twist. They pair exceptionally well with arugula, spinach, or mixed greens. Combine them with olives, slivered almonds, and a drizzle of olive oil for a Mediterranean-inspired dish.

Enhance Your Main Dishes

Use preserved oranges to enhance the flavor of your main courses. They are superb with grilled or roasted meats, particularly chicken and fish. Place a few slices on top of your protein before cooking, allowing the citrus to infuse the meat as it cooks.

Create Flavorful Dressings and Marinades

Blend preserved oranges into your dressings and marinades to introduce an exciting citrus note. A simple vinaigrette can be made by mixing chopped preserved oranges, olive oil, vinegar, and a touch of honey. Use it to dress salads or as a marinade for chicken and seafood.

Top Off Desserts

Add a sophisticated touch to desserts by garnishing them with preserved oranges. They are especially delicious with rich desserts like chocolate cake or vanilla panna cotta. The tangy flavor of the oranges cuts through the sweetness and adds depth.

Use in Breakfast Dishes

Start your day with a zesty twist by adding them to your breakfast. Chop preserved oranges and stir them into yogurt, oatmeal, or sprinkle over pancakes for a tangy start to your morning.


Preserved oranges truly transform your cooking game with their unique flavors and versatility. Whether you’re tossing them into a fresh salad or blending them into a vibrant dressing, they’re sure to add that extra zing. Don’t hesitate to experiment with these delightful additions in your next culinary adventure. Your taste buds will thank you!

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