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Orange ripening and vitamin CFeatured science projectScience project video


This science fair project was done to compare the vitamin C concentration in oranges during various stages of ripening. The testing was done by extracting the juice from an unripe orange, half-ripe orange and a fully ripe orange.


The unripe orange will have the highest concentration of vitamin C.

Scientific Terms

Vitamin C, ascorbic acid, nutrients


Oranges and Vitamin C

Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is the nutrient found in citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruit and lemons. The high amount of vitamin C in oranges makes it an ideal food choice as our body requires the vitamin. However, vitamin C in  oranges degrades over time. Oranges plucked earlier and kept in cold storage contain more vitamin C than oranges left to ripen on the trees. Similarly, freshly-squeezed orange juice is also known to lose its nutrients over time, unless refrigerated. Hence, oranges and orange juice need to be stored in a cool place to retain their vitamin C content.

The use of pesticides and fertilizers on oranges degrades the vitamin C found in the fruit, so pesticide-free produce may be a more nutritious choice. The type of containers used to store fruits can also be important in preserving its vitamin C content, with cardboard boxes lined with foil the best choice for storing oranges.

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Complexity level:
Project cost ($):
Time required:
1 hour for preparation, 1 hour for experiment
Material availability:
Iodine may be obtained from a chemist. Basic laboratory equipment required.
Safety concerns: