How To Can Orange Juice

two jars of canned orange juice

When recently blessed with bags, and bags, and bags of ripe tangerines the only thing I knew to do with them was juice them. But what to do with all of that juice? We could have just stuck it in the fridge to drink… but what fun would that have been? I wanted to try something new!

I should try canning them! I thought excitedly. We buy a lot of orange juice, it would be great to make it myself!

So I searched online for how to can orange juice. Hmmm… no luck. I flipped through all of my canning books, sure to find something. But still I found nothing. I did find directions for canning reconstituted frozen OJ, but that’s not what I needed.

You’d think I’d take that as a sign. As some sort of warning.

You’d be wrong.

Surely there’s a way to do it! I determined.

I finally came across a recipe in my Ball Blue Book for canning grapefruit juice. Grapefruits, oranges… same difference, right?


Anyways… here’s what I did:

After Jada and I peeled all of the tangerines, we put them through the JuiceLady juicer I borrowed from my mother-in-law.

Next, I heated the juice until steaming (not boiling) over the stove, for 5 minutes. Since the juice tasted alright fresh, I chose not to add any sugar.

I then ladled the hot juice into hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace.

After screwing the lids on, I processed them in the water bath canner for 15 minutes (same for pints or quarts).

I ended up with 8 quarts of orange juice. As you can see in the picture above, they looked beautiful when they were done! I was so excited. I allowed them to cool overnight so that the lids could properly seal. The next morning I stuck one in the fridge to chill for 24 hours for us to test the next day.

I couldn’t wait to have the fresh, cold, citrus-y beverage with my breakfast the following morning. I popped a lid off, poured the juice into my glass, and took a slow sip.

The kids eagerly watched my expression as I sampled our hard work.

Oh, gag.

Uh… well… it’s okay.” I lied, though my twisted face was surely an instant giveaway. I took another smaller sip. “It tastes like grapefruit juice. We like grapefruits…right?” Then I poured some for them to try.

Well, I had to let them taste it for themselves, didn’t I?

What I really meant to say was that it was incredibly bitter. Fermented tasting, but not possibly fermented yet. NOT like orange juice.

“YUCK,” they both exclaimed, pushing their cups out of arm’s reach and grimacing.

I’m so mean. *grin*

I tried to like it. I really did. I even stirred in a teaspoon of sugar. And then another. Maybe three.

But still it wasn’t good.

I truly do like grapefruit juice. But there’s something that’s just inherently wrong with drinking something that tastes like grapefruit juice… but it isn’t.


Seven more quarts in my cabinet and I just can’t bring myself to pour them out. Maybe I can use them in smoothies? (Notice I haven’t tried it yet.)

I’ve done more reading on it since my little experiment, and it looks like bitterness is the common result of trying to can orange juice. I thought at first that it might have just been the tangerines I used, but everyone is saying that whatever they tried came out yucky as well. There’s something about heating the juice that changes the flavor.

So, there you have it. How to can fresh orange juice. Not that I’d recommend it.

But hey, you don’t know till you try… right? That’s why it’s me doing it and not you.

Any suggestions for how to use my bitter, grapefruit juice tasting non-grapefruit juice?? Have you ever tried to can orange juice?

44 thoughts on “How To Can Orange Juice”

  1. You can’t use a juicer, you have to do it by hand, or it will come out bitter. The seeds and any pith you left on were ground up with the juice in your juicer. Next time, just ream the juice by hand and strain it. It will turn out much better for you.

    • I got a bright idea today, decided to check the web to see if it was possible to can orange juice…..glad I came across this sight I will NOT be attempting to can orange juice now. Thanks for saving my taste buds.

  2. You have to hand ream the juice. A juicer gets some white pith in it…then when its heated and canned it goes bitter. That’s also why if you can the fruit itself you have to cut the segments out of the membrane, leaving it on would make the fruit bitter. Hmmm you could maybe mix some of the stuff you made with vinegar to make a cleaner or with molasses and ketchup for a BBQ sauce. Or perhaps into Epsom salts for orange bath salts.

  3. My neighbor used her juicer to juice a Bunch of oranges and she said it had a bitter taste and asked me if I wanted the rest of the oranges to make jelly from. So I hand juiced the rest of the oranges and drank some…no bitterness to me. I haven’t tasted her “juicer” orange juice, but I wonder if the juicer makes the bitter taste from allowing too much of the white part of the orange compared to me hand juicing it :-/
    Just a thought. I also added a bit of sugar to another batch to sweeten it up, I’ll try salt to a small cup and see if that enhances the flavor too.

    • Found this link very interesting. We live in N. Florida and have Navel orange, Lakeland Limes, Orangequat, Kumquat. I have a favorite salesman I wanted to share our fresh oj with. So like very one else went to search the internet and found this site. I am going to try pints first. I have a electric squeezer and a double metal strainer I use for my fresh and frozen juice. I am looking forward to trying to can the oj. Thank you for this site.

  4. I juiced blood oranges and canned one quart and one pint using the water bath method. I found that though their is a bit of added bitterness I think it may be from the concentrating of flavors when heating the juice before canning, a oxidation of sorts. Regardless the juice has exactly what I want for making a blood orange hefeweizen beer. I plan on adding the quart right before carbonating with co2 later this winter when I can’t get fresh, I also plan on using the dehydrated peels in the beer as well as extra popurri around the house, thanks.

  5. Hi….I have 2 orange trees (navel) that make GREAT juice fresh. The navel orange has a chemical property in it that valencia type oranges do NOT have. Navel orange juice CANNOT be refrigerated or chilled. It releases a bitterness into the juice. Perhaps, you should try the juice again without chilling it or else add ice and try it that way. There may be tangerines/mandarines that are crossed with the navel orange that still possess that ability to release a bitterness. Hope this helps. I talked to a clerk at a brew type store who made his own orange wine a year ago with navel oranges. He said the wine was delicious and had a natural carbonation to it too. Perhaps, he didn’t try to chill it though or maybe the fermentation process changed the chemical process enough to keep it from getting bitter….not sure on that one.

  6. I got a PDF file from the University of California showing how to properly can orange. It said that you need to, “Peel the fruit and remove the white tissue (albedo) to prevent development of any bitter taste. Separate the fruit into sections, removing the membranes and seeds.” So if that’s the case, logically, you’ll need to remove all these parts before you even start juicing them. A juicer will take all the parts you don’t want in it and will juice them down. The free PDF file can be downloaded here:

  7. I wonder if sugar would have helped protect the flavor? And removing the white pith. I canned lime jam and mojito jelly recently, and they were a bit bitter, but I used key limes which are more bitter than regular limes anyway. I also made orange jelly that came out perfectly orange-y tasting. But I used 3 cups juice and 5 cups sugar. I peeled and zested 4 oranges with 2 lemons, then pulsed them in the blender, heated them to boiling then strained out all the pulp.

    Hope you find a use for the orange juice!


  8. I canned tons of valcinias last year; they sat for a month or two and we loved it. slightly bitter but tasty; I’m actually canning orange juice now, mmy husband loves it.
    (I think it’s bitter too.)

  9. I freeze OJ when I find it on sale at the grocery store pretty regularly. Actually, I freeze just about everything but that’s another story. I wonder though if next time, if you juice them and then just freeze the juice if it would work out better. I’m guessing you would be happier to drink the defrosted juice!

    Live and learn though. I have many similar stories! 🙂


  10. I’ve been thinking that perhaps it was that I juiced all the fruit first, then made 4 batches of jam, got tired and just canned the rest of the juice. The pulp had to have “settled” more in the last of the juice. Just a thought.

  11. Well here I sit with my glass of jucie and its fine! Don’t know what I did that was so different. Hand juiced tangerines, heated juice, but I processed for 10 min, in waterbath, but I’m at a low elevation. Hummmm???

  12. Oh no! I canned tangerine juice as well this winter, but I haven’t tried it yet. I canned the remaining juice after making many batches of tangerine jam(that turned out really well). Sad

  13. I’m sorry for the disappointment, especially after all that work. I would have canned them, too. I plan to try canning orange juice from my brother’s valencia oranges when he blesses me with tubs and tubs of them. I remember my mom many years ago buying “Donald Duck” brand orange juice in a can, and it tasted great! Not like fresh, but still a yummy juice. I wonder if tangerines are like oranges: different varieties have different “personalities.” The Valencia orange is a “juice” orange. You can squeeze out the juice and allow it to sit for hours or days in the fridge, and it will still taste yummy. Navel oranges can be juiced and then consumed right away. If allowed to sit, the Navle juice takes on a bitterness. That’s why you’ll never buy pure Navel orange juice in the stores. So…do tangerines have different personalities? I know you can buy Mandarin oranges in cans. Mandarins ARE tangerines. They’re not bitter upon use. So, I wonder what variety your tangerines were.

    At any rate, don’t give up! And, by the way, your canned juice can still probably be used up mixed in other things–a citrus punch or something? But if I were you, the next time that person blesses you with that many of the same tangerines, I’d either eat them, or juice them just prior to drinking.

  14. I just recently had the EXACT SAME experience! It was so funny to read that you had the same thought process as me! 🙂 Even freezing it – it’s just not the same as fresh. I told my husband I’ll never complain about the price of orange juice again! 🙂

  15. Oh my gosh, I thought for sure there was grapefruit juice in this big can of, “100% orange juice” I got from the food bank. Thanks for clearing it up! I think it tastes great, like delicious grapefruit juice. I’m just gonna drink it. Thanks Again 🙂

  16. I grew up in South Florida. Near one of our homes, there was an OJ processing plant. I hated the smell from the steam that resulted from heating the OJ.

    To this day I can taste that flavor in any store-bought OJ (refrigerated or frozen). It’s very bitter compared to the original.

    Fresh squeezed and frozen is the only way!

  17. I just found your website and am enjoying reading through your posts. I juiced about 100 lbs of tangerines from our trees this year, but put all the quarts into the freezer instead of “canning” them. I know it uses up freezer space, but the juice stays sweet!

  18. Would tak a while to use that much, but I regularly use orange juice to make a glaze for meats that I saute. Pork or chicken all work well with an orange glaze in the pan. Might want to check a batch first as I don’t know how your current flavor might effect it


  19. I just got a whole box of tangerines I’m making marmalade right now. i’ve made juice with some. Glad to read your post if I juice the rest maybe I’ll freeze it. thanks janice

  20. Wow who would have thought?! I am sure you will find some creative thing to do with all that juice.

    I was so excited once when I found a great deal on garlic bulbs and I bought so many, I decided I would chop them all up and put them in olive oil and fill my freezer with it too. After I got it all done, I learned you can’t do that because deadly bacteria can grow in the mixture. 🙁 Talk about a frugal failure!!

  21. I know this will sound weird but put salt in the oj instead of something sweet like sugar or honey. Salt makes a grapefruit taste sweet, (balances the PH or something). It should work for orange juice too. As I said, it sounds weird but give it a try.

    I’ve always been told you should cut the meat out of citrus fruits (before juicing) if you plan to can it.

  22. I have canned grapefruit. My directions always say if you are going to do oranges though that you have to do half grapefruit and half oranges. They were fine that way. I wonder if you could have canned tangerines. The grapefruits were a lot of work and you had to take out all of the piff (white stuff between the sections) but they were as good as fresh. I guess this is why you have to buy orange juice frozen and concentrated…..oh well…. I always learn a lot from my mistakes. I just wish I didn’t learn so much 🙂

  23. Hope you can find a way to use it after all your work! You must be more adventurous than I am–I feel better sticking to the tried-and-true recipes that are in reliable sources like the Ball books, etc. That way I know they won’t be a flop and also that they’ll be safe to consume after putting in all the time to process. Fortunately, we have two chest freezers, so we freeze a lot. It does save some time when you can freeze as opposed to the time spent processing things to can, plus there are some things that we just way prefer the taste of when frozen as opposed to canned. We recently bought a generator for backup power that we’ll at least be able to power the freezers, fridge, and well pump, as well as a few smaller items, at least short term until fuel runs out. For longer range, we are slowly saving to be able to install a partial solar system hopefully in a year or so that will have enough battery power to power the same things listed above, and will also be something we can continue to add panels/batteries to in the future as able. The only thing it would never be able to do would be to power air-conditioning, since that just takes way too much power. I know you have mentioned before that you guys would also like to eventually maybe do something with solar power–it is a big initial investment, even just to get started on a small initial start-up system. We’ve been planning this awhile, scrimping and saving. It’s not easy, but I know it will be worth it once we get there.

  24. I think the bitter taste comes from juicing the fruit with the white section membrane. I know when I eat a grapefruit, I have to remove it completely from the white sectional membrane to make it palatable, due to bitterness. Of course, I’m not sure it would be worth the effort to remove all of that before juicing and canning. That would be a ton of work!

    So, I agree with everyone else, add other sweet juices to make a juice coctail!

  25. I tried clementines last year and had the same problem. However, the grapefruit and clementines that I froze were just fine. Even the texture was good. If you don’t have a freezer, don’t preserve. They are not worth the work.

  26. That juice does look good..I was smacking my lips when I clicked on the link. To the author of this site: You are a blessing from family thanks you for all the time you dedicate to others! You are a blessing to us!

    Hosea 4:6 “My people have perished for lack of knowledge…”

    Thanks to you we are informed!

  27. Interesting post. Sometimes there is canned orange juice in the Senoir Citizens food boxes, USDA . My MIL would always give it to me. It has a very sour taste. We mix it with pineapple juice to drink It really helps the taste. So maybe try this. Or maybe mix it with Kool Aide. Not the healthiest but might change the taste. This post explains the bitter taste. I had never heard that you cant can citrus juice but good to know. Barbara

  28. I am SO glad you said that. I canned a whole lot of OJ last year, opened one quart, and had exactly the same reaction. But I just can’t throw it out! It use to taste so good — before I canned it !

  29. Great podcast the other night. Looks like you have a story for next Friday now. This is one reason I like following your blog and FB you always tell it like it is, not ashamed to tell about mistakes you have made or things you try that don’t work out as you thought they would. This saves a lot of us from making the same mistakes.You also give us a lot info on things you have tried that worked out good. love your blog and the podcast, keep up the great work.

  30. You should try it in a smoothie with honey, bananas and maybe a sweet juice like pineapple juice. 🙂 Don’t feel too bad, you are not the only person that would have tried it..I would have too. 🙂


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