How to Can Oranges, Grapefruit, Tangerines and Other Citrus at Home - Free, Easy, Illustrated Directions!

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Have you got your own citrus trees or access in inexpensive oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, tangelos, clementines, lemons, limes or other citrus? Making and canning your own citrus easy. Here's how to do it, in easy steps and completely illustrated. If your looking for an orange marmalade recipe or other jam recipe and directions, click here! We also have directions to make applesauce, apple butter, pickles and others!

Ingredients and Equipment

  • Fruit - An average of 15 pounds of whole fruit is needed per canner load of 7 quarts. To can in pint jars, an average of 13 pounds is needed per canner load of 9 pints. This works out, overall, to an average of about 2 pounds to yield 1 quart. You can scale this recipe up or down as you need.
  • Water - 6 cups water (I substitute orange juice instead of water, for extra flavor)
  • Sugar - about 4 cups of dry, granulated (table) sugar (not needed if you use orange juice)
  • Large spoons and ladles,
  • Jar grabber (to pick up the hot jars) - Big box stores and grocery stores sometimes carry them; and it is available online - see this page. It's a tremendously useful to put jars in the canner and take the hot jars out (without scalding yourself!).  The kit sold below has everything you need, and at a pretty good price:

    See here for related tools, equipment, supplies on Amazon
  • At least 1 medium or large pot; I prefer 16 to 20 quart Nonstick ceramic coated pots for easy cleanup: to make the sugar syrup (or heat the orange juice or water)..
  • 1 Water Bath Canner (a huge pot to sanitize the jars after filling (about $30 to $35 at mall kitchen stores, sometimes at big box stores and grocery stores.).  Note: we sell canners and supplies here, too - at excellent prices - and it helps support this web site!
  • Half pint canning jars (Grocery stores, like Publix, Kroger, Safeway carry them, as do some big box stores - now about $12 per dozen quart jars (up 50% in 2 years!) including the lids and rings)
  • Lids - thin, flat, round metal lids with a gum binder that seals them against the top of the jar.  They may only be used once.
  • Rings - metal bands that secure the lids to the jars.  They may be reused many times.


Optional stuff:

  • Lid lifter (has a magnet to pick the lids out of the almost-boiling water where you sanitize them. ($4 at big box stores or it comes in the kit at left)
  • Jar funnel ($5 at Target, other big box stores, and often grocery stores; and available online - see this page) or order it as part of the kit with the Jar grabber ; not necessary, but helpful.


Canning Citrus Directions

This example shows you how to make homemade canned citrus.  The yield from this recipe is about 18 eight-ounce jars (which is the same as 9 pints). 

Step 1 - Select the fruit

If you are lucky enough to live in Florida, southern California or the deep south of Texas, you can go pick your own Oranges in January and February!  Otherwise, you will have to go to the grocery store for the oranges and lemons.

Pick fresh citrus that are not soft, moldy or discolored.

The flavor of sweet citrus (such as oranges and clementines) is best if the sections are canned with equal parts of grapefruit. Grapefruit may be canned without oranges.  Sections may be packed in your choice of water, citrus
juice or syrup.  We will see how to do any below!

Step 2 - Wash the fruit

I'm sure you can figure out how to wash the fruit in plain cold water, no soap.






Step 3 - Get the jars and lids washed

The dishwasher is fine for the jars; especially if it has a "sanitize" cycle; you don't really have to sanitize the jars - the boiling water bath sanitizes everything, jar, lid, contents and all; but you DO want to get the jars as clean as you can first, it it can reduce the process time ithe water bath which improves quality.  I get the dishwasher going while I'm preparing everything else, so the jars are clean and hot (and less likely to crack when you put boiling hot fruit in them)  by the time I'm ready to fill the jars.

Lids:  Put the lids into a pan of hot water for at least several minutes; to soften up the gummed surface and clean the lids.

    Canning jars

Need lids, rings and replacement jars? 

Get them all here, delivered direct to your home,  at the best prices on the internet!

Step 4 -Peel the fruit.

Using your fingers, peel the skins and remove any remaining white portion of the rind, discard this - it is a tasteless and spongy.







Step 5 -Pull the segments apart or slice the oranges and lemons in segments or in half; however you like!

Pull the segments apart by hand or cut in half, across the segments, as shown; whichever you prefer.  You may want to also remove any seeds, as well.  Beats spitting them out later (yes, I know some people just swallow the seeds, but do you really want to risk having a citrus tree growing out of your, um, ears? :)

More seriously, your should cut out and discard the  tough, white part in the center - it's tough, bitter and tasteless!  Basically, anything that is white, is bitter, and can be removed. 

In the photo above, there are 4 types of oranges, from top left, clockwise, pink oranges, navel oranges, honey oranges and blood oranges.

The easiest way to remove most of it is to just pull it off with your fingers.  The tough part in the center of the fruit by the seeds usually must be cut out with a pair of scissors.

Save any juice that leaks out! You can use it in the syrup solutions you will make in the next step!

Step 7 - Prepare the syrup solution

Obviously, there needs to be some type of liquid around the fruit in the jars.  It is up to you whether you want to use a light or heave sugar solution, plain water , or an artificial sweetener solution. If you want a sugar solution, a very light, light, or medium syrup work best. 

Adding syrup to canned fruit helps to retain its flavor, color and shape. It is not a preservative; it does not prevent spoilage of
the fruit. That is accomplished by a combination of the water bath processing to create a sterile environment, the jar sealing mechanism (lid and ring) to keep it sealed, and the natural acidity of the fruit to prevent anything from growing. 

The following guidelines for preparing and using syrups offer a choice for a "very light" syrup, which approximates the natural sugar content of many fruits. The quantities of water and sugar to make enough syrup for a canner load of pints or quarts are provided for each type of syrup.

 Sugar Solutions
Type of Syrup and typical uses Approximate
of sugar
For a 9 Pint batch*  For a 7 Quart Batch 
Water Sugar Water Sugar
water  - no added calories 0% 7 cups  0 cups  11 cups  0 cups
very light - generally preferred for any sweet fruit, tastes the most like fresh, natural fruit juice. 10% 6 and 1/2 cups 3/4 cups  10 and 1/2 cups  1 and 1/4 cups
light - also good for most very sweet fruit. 20% 5 and 3/4 cups 1 and 1/2 cups 9 cups 2 and 1/4 cups
medium - good for sweet apples, sweet cherries, most berries and grapes 30% 5 and 1/4 cups 2 and 1/4 8 and 1/4 cups 3 and 3/4 cups
heavy - tart apples, apricots, sour cherries, gooseberries, nectarines, peaches, pears and plums 40% 5 cups 3 and 1/4 cups 7 and 3/4 cups 5 and 1/4 cups
very heavy - very sour fruit, like very sour cherries, currants, etc. 50% 4 and 1/4 cups 4 and 1/4 cups 6 and 1/2 cups 6 and 3/4 cups
artificial sweetener - diabetics prefer this or the plain water solution! 0% 7 cups 0 cups sugar- use Stevia (in a prepared form like Truvia, it measures same as sugar; if you use another form, you will need do your own conversion) - or Splenda, if you prefer,
or Nutrasweet to taste - about 30 packs
 11 cups 0 cups sugar- use Stevia (in a prepared form like Truvia, it measures same as sugar; if you use another form, you will need do your own conversion) - or Splenda, if you prefer,
or Nutrasweet to taste - about 40 packs
fruit juice - of course, you can simply use a fruit juice.  Orange juice obviously works well for any citrus, but you can always use the same juice as the fruit you are packing (if no oranges) 10% (natural sugars) 7 cups of fruit juice, no added water 0 cups 11 cups of fruit juice, no added water 0 cups

Step 8 - Heat the syrup solution to a boil

Heat the water and sugar together (or fruit juice, or plain water, as you chose!). Bring it to a boil and pour over raw fruits in jars.

At left is a sugar solution being prepared.  FYI, I prefer using orange juice instead; but you still have to heat it to boiling.

Step 9 - Fill the jars with the prepared citrus fruit

While you are waiting for the syrup solution to come to a boil, fill the cleaned jars with fruit.  Fill the jars, snuggly BUT do not pack them down, and be sure the top 1/2 inch of the jar is empty and clear.  Slide a butter knife inside each jar along the glass to help free any trapped air bubbles and air pockets.


Step 10 - Pour the hot syrup into the jars and put the lid and rings on

Fill them with the hot syrup solution to within 1/2 to 1/4-inch of the top, wipe any spills off the top, seat the lid and tighten the ring around them. Then put the filled jars into the canner!

This is where the jar tongs come in really handy!


Step 11 - Process the jars in the boiling water bath

Keep the jars covered with at least 2 inches of water. Keep the water boiling. Boil them for 10 minutes (if you are at sea level, up to 1,000 ft in altitude, above that see the chart below).




Recommended processing time for Citrus (Oranges, Grapefruit, Tangerines, Tangelos, Lemons, Limes, Clementines, etc.) sections in pint or quart jars in a boiling-water canner

Process Time at Altitudes of
0 to 1,000 ft 1,001 to 6,000 ft Above 6,000 ft
10 minutes 15 minutes 20 minutes

Step 12 - Done

Lift the jars out of the water and let them cool without touching or bumping them in a draft-free place (usually takes overnight)  You can then remove the rings if you like, but if you leave them on, at least loosen them quite a bit, so they don't rust in place due to trapped moisture. Once the jars are cool, you can check that they are sealed verifying that the lid has been sucked down. Just press in the center, gently, with your finger. If it pops up and down (often making a popping sound), it is not sealed. If you put the jar in the refrigerator right away, you can still use it. Some people replace the lid and reprocess the jar, then that's a bit iffy. If you heat the contents back up, re-jar them (with a new lid) and the full time in the canner, it's usually ok.

Once cooled, they're ready to store.   I find they last about 9 months.  After that, the get darker in color and they lose some firmness. They are safe to eat, but the flavor is bland.  So eat them in the first 6 to 9 months after you prepare them!

Other Equipment:

From left to right:

  1. Jar lifting tongs 
            to pick up hot jars
  2. Lid lifter
            - to remove lids from the pot 
            of boiling water (sterilizing )
  3. Lids
           - disposable - you may only 
           use them once
  4. Ring 
          - holds the lids on the jar until after
    ����� the jars cool - then you remove them, save them and reuse them
  5. Canning Jar funnel
          - to fill the jars


Canning tool kit

You can get all of the tools in a kit here:

See here for related tools, equipment, supplies on Amazon


See here for related tools, equipment, supplies on Amazon
See here for related tools, equipment, supplies on Amazon See here for related tools, equipment, supplies on Amazon Pressure Canners for all stovetops

Home Canning Kits

This is the same type of standard canner that my grandmother used to make everything from applesauce to jams and jellies to tomato and spaghetti sauce. This complete kit includes everything you need and lasts for years: the canner, jar rack, Jar grabber tongs, lid lifting wand, a plastic funnel, labels, bubble freer, and the bible of canning, the Ball Blue Book. It's much cheaper than buying the items separately. You will never need anything else except jars & lids (and the jars are reusable)! There is also a simple kit with just the canner and rack, and a Pressure Canner, if you want to do vegetables (other than tomatoes). To see more canners, of different styles, makes and prices, click here!

See here for related tools, equipment, supplies on Amazon

Canning books

Canning & Preserving for Dummies
by Karen Ward

Price:   $11.89
You Save:   $5.10 (30%)

The Ball Blue Book of Home Canning

The All New Ball Book Of Canning And Preserving: Over 350 of the Best Canned, Jammed, Pickled, and Preserved Recipes Paperback

This is THE book on canning!  My grandmother used this book when I was a child.  It tells you in simple instructions how to can almost anything; complete with recipes for jam, jellies, pickles, sauces, canning vegetables, meats, etc.  If it can be canned, this book likely tells you how! Click on the link below for more information and / or to buy (no obligation to buy)

Click here for more information about the
Ball Blue Book of Preserving  

Summary - Cost of Making Homemade Canned Citrus - makes 10 jars of 8 oz each*

Item Quantity Cost in 2024 Source Subtotal
Oranges 8 medium or large sized $2.00 Grocery store $2.00
Canning jars (8 oz size), includes lids and rings 10 jars $11/dozen 8 oz jars
or $0.92/jar
Grocery stores (Publix, Kroger, Safeway, etc.) $5.50
Sugar 4 cups $2.00  Grocery stores (Publix, Kroger, Safeway, etc.) $2.00
Total $13.20 total
 or about  $1.32 per jar

* - This assumes you already have the pots, pans, ladles,, and reusable equipment. Note that you can reuse the jars!  Many products are sold in jars that will take the lids and rings for canning.  For example, Classico Spaghetti sauce is in quart sized jars that work with Ball and Kerr lids and rings. Note that the Classico's manufacturer does not recommend reuse of their jars: see what they have to say on this page:

Can't find the equipment?  We ship to all 50 states! Use our Feedback form!

Answers to Common Questions


If you want to learn how NOT to make marmalade, read this entertaining account from this English woman who is either incredibly cheap or a slow learner.. but either way, it's a funny story!    
And if our recipe is too EASY for you and you would like a much more complicated approach that will take about 4 hours to complete, try Delia Smith's (a cook famous in the UK) orange marmalade recipe!    


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