how to can 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?