Too many mandarin oranges left over from Chinese New Year? If they’re still rolling around in your fridge, it’s about time to get rid of them before they get mouldy.

However, if you prefer the sustainable and zero-waste ethos, you wouldn’t want to waste them. Here are some ways you can properly store the mandarin oranges around your house, and use the orange peel for DIY remedies.


How to store Mandarin Oranges for CNY?

Native to South-east Asia and originally cultivated in large quantities in China and Japan, mandarin oranges spread further around the world only from the early 19th century.

They have since become so widely and successfully grown that mandarin varieties and hybrids together form the largest group in the citrus genus.

Lunar New Year: 5 Ways to Use Leftover CNY Oranges At Home

Mandarin Orange is a chief species of the citrus family

The mandarin orange is considered a chief citrus species, along with the pomelo and the citron. Almost all other commonly eaten citrus fruits, including regular oranges and lemons, are descendants of these three and their hybrids.

Mandarins are important during Chinese New Year for several reasons. Many mandarin types are at their seasonal best between mid-winter and mid-spring, when the New Year falls.

Mandarin Oranges in their best shape during CNY

Their round shape and golden colour are also considered auspicious, symbolising wealth and good fortune; and they are conveniently sized for giving and eating.

When storing mandarin oranges, remember that freshness equals flavour.

Store Mandarin Oranges in a cool, dry place

Keep mandarins away from dampness and high temperatures. Discard any wrappings that can trap moisture and place the fruit in a shallow woven basket or container that allows for some air circulation.

Avoid stacking mandarin oranges in deep containers

Avoid using a deep container and try not to stack the mandarins too high, as this hinders air circulation.

Go over all the fruit at least once a day to check for incipient soft, bruised or brown spots, which can deteriorate quickly, and remove any blemished ones. You can also store mandarins loosely packed in paper bags in the fridge vegetable drawer, but check their condition every couple of days.

Not all Mandarin Oranges are edible

Some of the ornamental potted plants sold at Chinese New Year bear fruit which resemble tangerines or clementines.

Likely hybrids of calamansi, mandarin and other small citrus, the plants are often developed and grown for looks rather than taste, and may have been treated with pesticides. So never assume they are edible. Always check with the vendor if they can be eaten.

Lunar New Year: 5 Ways to Use Leftover CNY Oranges At Home

DIY Orange Peel: A natural insect repellent

It’s said that roaches, ants, and other pests can’t stand the smell of orange oil. You can even use it to get rid of aphids! Here’s how to make a natural repellent that’ll keep them away:

  1. Peel the orange rinds off from the fruit, removing as much of the white inner portion as possible with a small knife.
  2. Cut the peel into 1-inch pieces.
  3. Place the cut peel into a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and let simmer for five minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and cover the saucepan with a lid. Allow the mixture to sit for 24 hours.
  5. Strain the solution through a sieve and into a spray bottle.
  6. You now have your own natural orange oil repellent! Shake well before use.

Alternatively, you can simply blend the orange peels and water together.

For getting rid of plant pests that have a waxy protective layer, such as mealybugs, you can consider adding a few drops of detergent or castile soap to your solution.

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Shine your kitchen tap and stainless steel

The natural oils in the orange peel is great for polishing away smudges and keeping your stainless steel shiny.

Use it to rub down your taps and other stainless steel hardware. The oils also provide a natural barrier, helping to keep your steel resistant to water spots.

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5 Ways to Use Orange Peels At Home

Use orange peels to deodorise your fridge

This works best if you’re able to use a food processor to grind the peel into powder, but cutting them small will also help.

Put a mixture of the small rind pieces and baking soda into a dish, and leave in the fridge. It acts as a natural deodorizer, keeping your fridge smelling fresh.

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Scent your natural cleaning solution

Using white vinegar as part of your natural cleaning solution works great, but it does leave a slight smell. Adding some orange peels to the solution and letting it soak helps to reduce the tangy smell of the vinegar, and adds some cleaning power thanks to the citric acid.

it works great for loosening soap scum in the bathroom and scrubbing stains. Be careful to dilute it if you’re using it to mop your floor, though!

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Lunar New Year: 5 Ways to Use Leftover CNY Oranges At Home

Use orange peels to clean your microwave

Place the orange peels in a bowl filled with water, then microwave for 1-2 minutes. Not only will the orange get rid of smells from the microwave, it helps to loosen caked-on food, too, so it’s easier to scrub away.

What are your favourite ways to use orange peels?

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Part of this story first appeared on The Straits Times.