Preserving Oranges By Waterbath

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We can’t grow any oranges here on our zone 4 homestead.  So if we want them, we have to order them.

Every December they go on sale for less than $0.50/lb. and we order 200 lb.  This year they were only $0.35/lb!

When you only get oranges once a year, you’ve got to figure out how to make them last.

How do we do that?  We dehydrate some for snacks and baking, and freeze some. But the majority of them get canned.

You can can oranges?  Yes, my Friend.  You can and you should.

Oranges go on sale in December, and it's the perfect time to stock up on them. This tells you how to preserve them by waterbath. Chart for altitude adjustment included.

You will need:

  • Waterbath canner (mine holds 7 quarts at a time)
  • Oranges
  • Water
  • Sugar
  • Canning supplies
  • Clean dry towel
  • Clean dry washcloth
  • Jars, lids, rings (or two 2 piece tops if you prefer Tattler lids)

Start by peeling and sectioning all of your oranges.  The Farmer and I spend an evening peeling and sectioning oranges.  We then store them in air-tight containers kept cool overnight and then can them the next morning.

Make sure you get as much of the pith off as possible.  When pith is left on, it will make the oranges bitter.

Once all your oranges are peeled and sectioned, set-up your canning supplies.

While your jars are sterilizing, get your waterbath canner ready according to it’s owner’s manual.  (Mine calls for the jars to be covered with 2 inches of water while processing.)

In a large pot, prepare a hot syrup.

  • Very light syrup is 10 parts water to 1 part sugar.  I generally prepare 15 Cups water with 1 1/2 Cups sugar for 7 quarts of oranges.  (Your oranges will remind you of grapefruit when prepared this way.)
  • Light syrup is 5 parts water to 1 part sugar.  I prepare 15 Cups water with 3 Cups sugar for 7 quarts of oranges.
  • If you are expecting sweet oranges, make sure you make a heavier syrup (more sugar) than this.

Prepare your lids and rings (or two part lids if using Tattler lids like I did here).

Once your jars are sterilized and hot, use a funnel to put your orange sections in your jars.  Do not pack your oranges.  I don’t can sections that have been broken–those get eaten or frozen.  Leave 1/2 inch headspace.

Carefully ladle in your syrup on top your oranges, and again leave 1/2 inch headspace.

Use your plastic stick to remove any bubbles (and I always have quite a few). Remeasure to make sure your headspace is still 1/2 inch.

Use a clean washcloth to wipe clean all your rims.  Place your new lids (or 2 piece Tattlers) on your jars and then the bands.  They should be snug but not tight.

Carefully use your jar lifter and place them in the waterbath canner.  Place the lid on your canner and turn the heat up until you have a rolling boil.  Begin timing and process for 10 minutes plus an adjustment for altitude.  (See chart below.) For an altitude just under 6000 ft. we process for 20 minutes total.


Altitude                                                          Increase Processing Time

1001-3000 ft                                                         5 minutes

3001-6000                                                            10 minutes

6001-8000                                                            15 minutes

8001-10000                                                         20 minutes


Once your time has completed, turn your heat off and carefully remove your lid. I let mine sit until boiling has been stopped for at least 20 minutes.

Use your jar lifter to carefully pull your hot jars out and set them on a rack or towel to cool.  Make sure they are at least 1 inch apart.

Leave overnight and gently check your seals in the morning.  Any jars not sealed should be placed in a refrigerator and eaten within a couple days.

I like to wash my jars and rings again at this point and let them completely dry for 24 hours before storage.


Please Note:  I am not an expert canner.  I am not an expert anything.  Only you are responsible for the health of you and your family.  I take no credit for your technique.  Please follow all federal guidelines for canning, and be familiar with the process before starting this or any other canning project.

Improper handling of foods during preservation can make people very sick and even have fatal consequence without there being any sign of food spoilage.  You alone are responsible for your preservation methods.

I follow all the guidelines outlined in the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving.  I highly recommend it if you’re just starting out or want more ideas.



  1. Just an FYI, it’s a good idea not to store your canned food with the rings on them since the seal may fail and reseal. Then your food could possibly be spoiled and you wouldn’t know. I learned that from another canning group.

  2. Where do you order oranges? I would like to try this but needed a source for bulk order oranges. Thank you!

    • The nearest shopping is 60 miles away. I just call the grocery store there and ask when the oranges will be in for the holiday sale and then order them. I bet if you have any grocery stores close you could just call and order them too.

  3. Thank you for this. I shared it with a friend of mine who does a ton of canning. I sent her the link because I know she’s always on the lookout for new recipes. Thank you for sharing it at the Homemaking Link-up!

  4. They look wonderful! Now you would think living in the south that we could get oranges cheap (I am from Florida but living in N GA mt’s)…. but nope.

  5. What a great idea. I try and keep a few small citrus trees in our tiny greenhouse, but they can not keep up with the consumption of a family of 5!

    • I know what you mean. We have a large family, and a large orchard, and it’s still hard to keep enough produce for everyone. I only wish we could grow citrus here (even in a greenhouse). I’m so jealous!

  6. Sweet Jeanette

    July 17, 2016 at 8:17 pm

    So, you leave the membrane on the sections? I would think it would be murder to try to remove that on each section, but the ones I see commercially canned don’t have it. I’ve always wondered how they turn out with that membrane or as I call it “skin” on the sections…. My grandfather was a citrus dealer and my father worked in the lab running samples for him so I got a lot of orange juice when I accompanied him. (I’m in Florida)

    • Jeanette, I tried taking the membranes off once and wound up with loose pulp. I can’t imagine taking them off one by one during the canning process, even though I do remove them myself when I eat them fresh–and it takes a long time just to do one at a time!
      I can’t tell you how jealous I am that you must have fresh oranges all the time–or any citrus!

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