Do Canned Mandarin Oranges Go Bad?

Sweet, small, and succulent, how can you not love mandarin oranges?

Canned mandarin oranges are a great addition to your kitchen, especially when you may not find fresh mandarin oranges all year round in your supermarket. They taste exceptional in salads, cakes, juices, or even on their own! 

If you’re like me and love stocking up on canned mandarins for the just-in-case and what-if kitchen situations, you’ll know once you pop them in the cupboard, you tend to forget about them. 

Maybe you’ve discovered a can of mandarin oranges that’s way past its expiry date. Perhaps you’ve bought a can on clearance and are wondering how long it’ll last. The question I’m sure you’ll have is do canned mandarin oranges go bad? If so, how can you tell?

I’ve researched some tips and tricks that I have found useful in finding out if canned mandarin oranges have gone rotten. I’ll let you know how long they can last and how you should store them, plus freezing tips!

Keep scrolling to find out how to save your sweet canned mandarin oranges.

How Long Do Canned Mandarin Oranges Last?

Like all canned foods, the longevity of canned mandarin oranges depends on whether you’ve opened them or not.

The general rule of thumb is, unopened canned mandarin oranges can last for 12 to 18 months at their prime quality if appropriately stored. After that period, they are still edible, but the quality and texture may deteriorate and vary. 

For opened canned mandarin oranges, they can last up to 7 days in your refrigerator. Be sure to store them in a clean and tightly covered container to avoid contamination and retain optimal flavor and texture. Once opened, canned mandarin oranges can also be stored in the freezer.

Are Canned Mandarin Oranges Safe to Use After the Expiry Date?

The short answer: Yes! Canned mandarin oranges are safe to use and eat after the expiry date. 

The ‘best before by’ or ‘expiry dates’ are just there for official purposes and indicate how long the canned fruits will be at their best quality. Commercially canned mandarin oranges are packed under tightly controlled and sanitary conditions. Thus, they can be preserved and kept for a relatively long time past their expiry date. 

Due to the material of the can and the natural chemicals in the mandarin oranges, they may react over time, and the taste and quality may vary.

Do read on so you can learn the tell-tale signs of rotten and spoilt canned mandarin oranges.

Can Eating Expired Mandarin Oranges Make You Sick?

If the can of expired mandarin oranges was not opened and stored correctly, it’s safe to eat and won’t make you sick. Unopened expired mandarin oranges rarely cause food poisoning as canning them is rigorous and sanitary. With that being said, if you do feel ill or queasy, be sure to see a doctor!

On the other hand, if you eat expired mandarin oranges from an opened or damaged can, you have a higher chance of falling sick. Once opened or damaged, mandarin oranges become an excellent breeding ground for bacterial contamination and growth.

To reduced the risk of getting sick, once opened consume your oranges as soon as possible. If the can is damaged, my advice is to throw them away. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

How to tell if Canned Mandarin Oranges Have Gone Bad

Now, if you’re still unsure if you want to eat that expired can of mandarin oranges on your kitchen shelf, fret not!

The best way to detect bad mandarin oranges is to use your senses. Here are five general signs that you can look out for to tell if the canned mandarin oranges have really gone bad:


The most unmistakable sign to tell if the oranges have gone bad is if you see mold. Mold indicates that there has been bacterial contamination and that the can was not correctly sealed. It may also produce harmful toxins. 

Some people say that you can just scrape the mold off, and it’s good to go. Personally, I would discard the moldy mandarin oranges immediately! Even if you can’t see mold after scraping away the visible layer, chances are it’ still in the can.

Also, if mold is growing freely there’s also a chance of bacterial contamination since the can has clearly been compromised.

It’s better to be safe than sorry and toss the can if you see any sign of mold.

Foul Smell

Once you open your can, give it a sniff.

If it smells off, funky, or anything other than sweet, it’s a sign that they’ve gone bad.

I recommend you don’t taste them and throw them away to avoid getting sick.

Bitter, Sour, or Gone-off Taste

If it looks and smells good, it should taste good too, right? That may not be the case for mandarin oranges.

You can distinguish rotten mandarin oranges from their distinct, bitter, sour, and gone-off taste.

If you’ve unfortunately eaten some, stop eating it and throw it away! If you ever suspect that it may be gone off, it’s best to trust your gut.

Rusty Can

A visible sign of canned mandarin oranges that have gone bad is rust and corrosion. Rust can be found on the outside and inside of the can. If the rust appears to be on the outside surface of the can, and if you can remove it with your finger or a wet towel, the oranges should be safe to eat. 

If the can is heavily rusted or rust is on the inside of the can, throw it out.

Rust can form tiny holes in the can, allowing bacteria to enter and contaminate the food inside. Rust is also known as oxidized iron, which is not safe for human consumption.

Swollen and Dented Cans

You might have heard your mother saying, if it’s swollen, throw it away! And she couldn’t be more right.

Swollen cans of mandarin oranges may be an indication that it has been contaminated with bacteria. On the other hand, if you live in a colder climate, swollen cans may also result from food expanding when accidentally frozen. 

You should generally discard severely damaged cans. Once severely damaged, the sharp dents may create holes that invite bacterial growth. If there are small dents in the can, it’s usually safe to eat the contents and not a sign of caution. 

How to Store Canned Mandarin Oranges

Now you’re equipped with all the knowledge on the signs of bad canned mandarin oranges, but what are the best ways to store the good cans?

You should store canned mandarin oranges in a dry and cool place. Away from humidity and heat to avoid rust and corrosion of the can. It is recommended to keep them at room temperature and away from sunlight. 

Once opened, they should be stored in a clean and tightly closed container in the fridge and consumed immediately.

Freezing Canned Mandarin Oranges

Another way of storing canned mandarin oranges and ensuring longer shelf life is by freezing them. Yes, it is possible! 

If you have a surplus and want to savor them for as long as possible, freezing may also help. Here is how you can freeze canned mandarin oranges:

  • Use clean and freshly opened oranges. You may choose to discard the syrup and remaining juice or freeze them together. 
  • Divide the oranges into clean, sealable bags or containers. (You can divide according to portion sizes)
  • Leave space for expansion of the frozen mandarin oranges.
  • Label with the date and store them in the freezer. Frozen mandarin oranges will be good for up to 10 months if stored properly.

Thaw the mandarin oranges by taking them out the day before and leaving them at room temperature.

The texture and flavor should be just as good as freshly opened canned mandarin oranges or even better.