How to Tell When Your Watermelon Has Gone Bad

You can't always tell just by looks or smell if watermelon is bad. So, then, how do you know?

Pieces of watermelon in an open plastic to go container

While some folks will buy a whole watermelon at the grocery store and break down the fruit themselves, others are far more likely to buy it pre-sliced. Is it easier? Absolutely. But, like all produce, once it’s sliced open it will go bad much quicker. And while apple slices will go brown and grapes begin to wrinkle, watermelon doesn’t show its age the same way. How can you tell when it's bad?

When selecting a whole watermelon at the grocery store, you want to check and make sure it’s ripe enough, but you also want to avoid a melon that’s overripe. The easiest way to tell is to check the skin for any soggy spots and patches of greenish-blue, black, or white mold.

Signs that Watermelon Is Bad

Sometimes spoiled watermelon looks and smells fine. This is often the case with cut melon that’s been sitting in a container in your fridge for a week or so. Here's a checklist for questionable watermelon.

  • Smell: This is the most noticeable sign. If it smells bad, it is bad.
  • Taste: Even if the exterior looks okay, there’s a chance that the fruit could have gone bad. If you bit into a piece of watermelon that looked and smelled fine but its tastes sour or has a fizzy sensation on your tongue, throw it out.
  • Feel: A slimy or slippery feel is another indication that something is amiss. Don't rinse it off. Just pitch it.
  • Looks: If the flesh has noticeable dark spots or is covered in anything slimy or fuzzy, you should toss it.
  • Best-before date: Pre-cut watermelon packages tend to be tagged with an expiration date. Of course, most foods aren’t guaranteed to spoil by that date, so it’s best to know what to look for. Again, you want to avoid melon that's slimy, discolored, weird-smelling, or growing anything fuzzy.
Bowl of watermelon cubes with watermelon slices behind it on a wood serving platter

Lori Rice

How Long to Store Watermelon

A good rule of thumb is to eat pre-cut watermelon within 5 days of buying the fruit. Watermelon you cut yourself and store in an airtight container in the fridge should also be eaten within 5 days. A whole watermelon can last in your kitchen for about 1 week , and in the fridge for about 2 weeks. But really, why would you ever wait 14 whole days to slice into that melon?

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