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How to Tell if Watermelon Is Bad

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When buying watermelons, you want to make sure you get the tastiest from the bunch. At the same time, you want to ensure that what you pick is still fit for consumption.

It is not always easy to tell if a watermelon is bad. In fact, sometimes watermelons look and smell okay when they have actually started to turn. Thankfully, you can tell if a watermelon is off through other methods besides sight and smell.

Below, we discuss various signs that can help you tell if a watermelon is bad. We also answer some questions on watermelon spoilage and storage.

Overhead View Of a Farmer Holding Freshly Harvested Watermelon At Farm

Ways to Tell if Watermelon Is Bad

You can tell if a watermelon is bad through various methods, including the following:

Visual Inspection

The easiest way to tell if a watermelon has gone off is to examine it with your eyes. When watermelon spoils, you will notice some unusual mold patches on its rind. The patches may be black, white, or greenish-blue. You may also see some soggy spots.

Fresh watermelon should have a consistent striped appearance or a uniform pine green color. Any deviation from this appearance spells potential spoilage. Check further.

Sometimes the outside of a watermelon may look okay even when it has started to rot. But you may see signs of spoilage when you look on the inside. One such sign is flesh discoloration.

The flesh of a good watermelon is typically red or deep pink. So, if you notice any discoloration – such as dark spots – your watermelon may be bad.

Check the Texture of the Flesh

When watermelon goes off, the flesh becomes dry and gritty. The texture deviates from the usual crispness.

Spoiled watermelon may also become mushy and slimy. If you notice sliminess, you should discard it at once and wash your hands.

Smell the Watermelon

When watermelon smells off inside or outside, you should not eat it.

Any tangy, sour, or unpleasant smell is a sign of spoilage. Discard this watermelon at once.

The Taste

If you suspect that your watermelon has gone off, you should only taste it if other signs we have mentioned are absent.

Sometimes, pre-cut watermelons look okay and smell fine even when they are bad. They may even have no slime or mold growth.

If this is the case, you can take a bite to confirm. If the watermelon tastes fizzy or sour, spit it out and discard the rest.

Follow the Expiration Date

Pre-cut watermelons typically come with an expiration date. While sometimes the fruit may be good beyond the stated date, you should still follow it.

If you cut the watermelons yourself and store them in a refrigerator, you should consume the cut watermelons within 5 days. Under the same conditions, whole watermelons should be good for around 21 days. Still, you shouldn’t wait that long to eat a watermelon.

When left at room temperature, sliced watermelons should not be consumed after 24 hours. Whole watermelons should not be eaten after 10 days under similar conditions.

cracked opened rotten watermelon on the ground

Questions and Answers about Watermelons

Can a Bad Watermelon Make You Sick?

A bad watermelon can make you sick.

Spoiled watermelon typically contains harmful bacteria. So, if you consume one, you will most likely get sick.

When you eat spoiled watermelon, you may suffer the symptoms of food poisoning. In the first few hours of eating the bad watermelon, you may get a headache and feel fatigued. You may also become nauseated, or you may vomit and experience diarrhea. In some cases, you can also get a fever, cramps, or joint aches.

Can a Watermelon Be Rotten?

Watermelon can be rotten. Decay is a natural process, and it happens to all organic matter. So, since watermelon is organic matter, it can be rotten.

Basically, microorganisms in various parts of the environment act on organic matter (like watermelon) for their own metabolism. When they do, the affected organic matter, in turn, begins to decay.

Can a Whole Watermelon Go Bad?

Just like sliced watermelons, a whole watermelon can go bad. However, uncut watermelons last longer than sliced ones.

If you store a whole watermelon at room temperature, it should remain edible for up to 7 days. But sliced watermelon will go bad within 24 hours when kept under the same conditions.

Does Watermelon Spoil Quickly?

Watermelon does spoil fast. In fact, the rapidity of its spoilage is one reason farmers harvest them close to the peak of their ripe age.

The short shelf life of watermelons is linked to their high water and sugar content.

Since microorganisms thrive in environments rich in water and nutrients like sugar, they can grow pretty fast in watermelons which speeds up the spoiling process.

How Long Does It Take for Watermelon to Go Bad?

The time it takes for watermelon to go bad depends on the state of the fruit and the storage conditions. However, know that whole watermelons generally last longer than sliced ones.

Whole (uncut) watermelons can last up to 7-10 days at room temperature. After this period, they will most likely begin to spoil.

When whole watermelons are stored in a refrigerator, they can remain good for around 2-3 weeks. So, after 3 weeks, they may go bad.

Sliced (cut) watermelon lasts only around 24 hours at room temperature. So, after 24 hours, sliced watermelon will go bad.

In a refrigerator, sliced watermelon remains okay for 3 to 5 days. After 3 to 5 days, it spoils.

Ripe sliced watermelon on wooden background

Is It Bad to Eat Overripe Watermelon?

Eating overripe watermelon is not necessarily bad. However, when watermelon becomes overripe, it loses most of its desirable flavor. So, you may not enjoy eating it.

Overripe watermelon is typically mealy. The crispness fades into dryness and grittiness, and the taste becomes unappealing.

Besides being distasteful, overripe watermelons pose no actual risk to you. But if you are not okay with eating them, you could use them in recipes that do not require crispness. For one, you can puree them.

Alternatively, you may return an overripe watermelon to the store for a replacement.

How Long Is Watermelon Good in the Fridge?

As mentioned before, whole (uncut) watermelons are good in the fridge for 14 to 21 days (2-3 weeks). On the other hand, sliced watermelons are good in the refrigerator for only 3 to 5 days.

If you cut watermelons and store them in heavy-duty freezer bags or airtight containers, they can stay good for 10-12 months.

Final Thoughts

Typically, an off smell, a discolored rind or flesh, or dry, gritty flesh indicates spoilage in watermelon. But in the absence of any of those signs, you can verify the freshness of watermelon by tasting it.

Watermelon should be sweet, juicy, and fresh. But if it is sour or tangy, it has gone bad and you should not eat it.