How To Tell If An Orange Is Bad (With Pictures!)

Oranges are a deliciously refreshing fruit that can add a burst of flavor and color to any fruit bowl or salad. They are also great to pack as snacks and are filled with nutrients that give you a healthy energy boost. Unfortunately, like all other food, oranges don’t stay fresh forever. It’s quite easy to tell when an orange is losing its freshness. 


Oranges that have gone bad will show changes in texture, smell, and taste. A bad orange has a soft, mushy texture, and the rind shrivels or dries out. Brown discolorations and spots of mold appear on the rind and cause a foul, stale odor. Rotten oranges lose their flavor and taste sour or bitter. 

No one wants to spend their time peeling an orange only to discover it’s rotten. There are a few signs that will help you know if your orange is bad so that you don’t end up with an unappetizing snack. 

How to tell if an orange is bad

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Signs That An Orange Is Bad 

It’s terrible when you bite into something expecting a sweet, pleasant taste but instead are left with a bitter or sour taste on your taste buds. If you’re a “foodie” like me, you’ll understand the disappointment when you realize the snack you’ve been looking forward to all morning isn’t an option anymore. 

A rotten orange doesn’t only taste terrible but also poses a health risk if you consume it. Like most spoiled food, bad oranges contain bacteria that can cause all kinds of problems in your gut, so you should always avoid eating them. 

It’s easy to determine whether an orange has gone bad if you know which changes to look out for. 

Sign #1: The Orange Has A Soft, Limp Texture 

If you pick up an orange and it feels soft and mushy, then it may be a sign that the orange is starting to spoil. It’s important to remember that the more an orange ripens, the softer it gets. So just because the orange is starting to soften doesn’t mean it’s completely spoiled. 

If you start noticing changes in the texture and hardness of your orange, then it’s safe to assume that it won’t be long until the orange is bad. 

Sign #2: The Orange Rind Has Spots Of Brown Discolorations

Oranges often have small imperfections that look like tiny specks or scratches on the rind. These are usually just normal surface scars on the peel caused by tree branches and other external factors when the fruit was growing. 

Any other brown or white discolorations may indicate the presence of bacterial growth. So if the orange peel has several brown spots that are mushy and moldy, then it’s a good idea to check the fruit for other signs of spoilage. 

orange peel with bad spots

Sign #3: The Orange Has A Foul Odor 

Fresh citrus fruits carry a lovely, sweet scent that most people are familiar with. However, the same cannot be said of citrus fruits that have gone bad. 

If your orange has a funky, musty odor emanating from it before you’ve even started removing the peel, it’s safe to say that the orange has gone off. Once the orange loses its citrusy smell on the outside, you can be sure that the inside won’t be any better, and it would be best to toss the whole fruit out. 

Sign #4: The Orange Has Turned A Blue-Green Color

If your orange has gone from vibrant orange to a blue-green color, it means mold and bacteria have taken over. If the rind has mold growing on it, it’s very likely that the inside of the orange has also started to spoil. 

I don’t recommend trying to salvage parts of the orange with no mold growth. It’s much safer to dispose of the orange and get yourself a fresh one because consuming even the smallest amounts of mold can lead to serious health problems. 

Sign #5: The Orange Has Spots Of Mold Growing On it 

If your orange still has its orange color, but you spot small green spots on the peel, then it’s wise to avoid eating the fruit. Small green and brownish spots on the rind are small areas of mold growth, indicating that your orange is long past its expiry date. 

The inside of the orange may be fine if the spots of mold on the outside are very small, but make sure you check the pieces of fruit before you eat it. 

spoiled moldy orange

Sign #6: The Orange Has A Bitter Or Sour Taste 

The taste of an orange gone bad will make you grimace in disgust. A spoiled orange has lost its sweet, refreshing taste and instead tastes either bitter or terribly sour. Juices with a bland or slightly bitter taste also indicate that your orange is losing its freshness. 

Sign #7: The Orange Skin Is Slimy 

You’ll know an orange has started to spoil when the fruit is mushy and covered in gooey, slimy juices instead of the usual clear, watery orange juices. A slimy consistency is a sign that bacteria has started to grow and multiply on the surface of the fruit. 

Once the orange has become soft, mushy, and slimy, it will no longer look appetizing or feel firm and fresh. You will be able to tell that it’s started to go off without having to taste it. 

Sign #8: The Orange Rind Shrivels Or Dries Out 

Oranges stored in the refrigerator typically last longer and don’t grow mold as quickly as those left in a fruit bowl on the counter. Most molds prefer warmer or room temperatures but don’t thrive so easily in colder temperatures. But even oranges stored in the refrigerator won’t last forever. 

When you store an orange in the refrigerator for too long, and it starts to spoil, you will notice that the peel becomes shriveled. You may not notice much discoloration, but you will notice that the peel feels thin and fragile. It will appear dried out as the orange loses its moisture and freshness. The inside of the orange will also dry out, leaving you with dry, shriveled-up pieces of fruit.

Below, you can see a shriveled orange at different stages:

shriveled oranges at 5 different stages

Other Questions About How To Tell If An Orange Is Bad

How long do oranges stay fresh? 

Oranges stored at room temperature usually last between 10 to 14 days, while oranges kept in the refrigerator can last up to 4 weeks. Frozen oranges can stay fresh and keep their flavor for up to 6 months.

Keep in mind that the longer oranges are stored, the more flavor they lose. It’s always best to consume oranges within 14 days from purchasing them so that you can enjoy the fresh tangy, citrus taste while it’s at its best. 

Where is the best place to store oranges? 

The best place to store oranges is in the refrigerator. Refrigerated oranges keep their freshness for an entire month and don’t easily grow mold. The refrigerator is also a much cleaner environment and will prevent spoilage caused by bacteria. 

Do oranges expire in the fridge?

Yes, oranges will still expire in the fridge. However, they won’t expire as quickly as when you leave them on the counter.

How should I store my oranges? 

Do not peel your oranges when you store them. Instead, store the whole fruit in the vegetable drawer of your fridge, where there is a consistently cool temperature. 

Do not wash the whole oranges before you store them. The extra moisture will lead to mold formation and speed up spoilage. It is best to store your oranges unwashed and only rinse them right before you want to eat them.

Whole oranges last longer when there’s proper airflow, so avoid using airtight bags. Instead, opt for mesh bags that allow air to circulate freely. Orange slices don’t have the protective rind to help slow down spoilage and, therefore, should be stored in an airtight Ziploc bag if you want them to stay fresh for longer. 

What is the white stuff inside an orange?

There is white stuff inside of oranges called “pith.” This is NOT mold, but simply a regular part of the orange. People usually discard the pith because it tends to have a bitter flavor, but you do not have to.


Oranges are a delicious fruit, but it is important to discard them if they sit out too long and begin to spoil. Remember to always check the appearance and the smell. And if you store your oranges correctly in the first place, they should last much longer so you can enjoy them in full!

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