How to Tell if Watermelon is Bad (Whole & Cut!)

It is easy to see why watermelon is such a popular fruit, especially on those hot summer days. This fruit even quenches your thirst. Watermelon is known for its fruity sweetness, and it’s packed full of nutrients and vitamins. But there are few things as foul as rotten watermelon. So, how can you tell if watermelon is good or if it is the bad fruit in the bunch?

It is easy to tell if watermelon is bad. You need to check the skin of the watermelon for any soft and squishy bad spots, especially if those spots have any signs of mold on them. For cut watermelon, you’ll want to consider the smell, look, and feel. Don’t eat watermelon that smells bad, has a slimy texture, or tastes sour.

Here’s an example of an overripe watermelon that is no longer good to eat:

bad watermelon split open with mushy interior

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How to Tell if a Whole Watermelon is Bad

It is best for your health if you buy a whole watermelon because a watermelon already starts going bad as soon as you cut and prepare it. As soon as a knife pierces the skin and fruit of the watermelon, microorganisms will grow and reproduce in the fruit, especially if you leave it out in a warm environment. Nothing lasts forever, but here’s how you can know if yours is still safe to eat.

  • A whole watermelon that is bad may have soggy spots. When you purchase a whole watermelon, make sure it is firm. If it has been sitting on the counter for a while, check the skin again by feeling for soggy or sunken spots. These are caused by the skin decomposing in its weakest areas.The juice and water content from within the watermelon will start to move into these vulnerable areas. Sometimes you can easily pierce these spots with a blunt object or even your finger. Don’t bother cutting a watermelon that is like this—you can throw it out right away.
  • Look for discoloration & mold.. The best whole watermelons are dark green. There shouldn’t be any patches of white or black mold. Now that said, a large patch of yellow on a watermelon is not a problem. This actually indicates that the watermelon had time to ripen on the vine, so it will likely be nice and sweet!
  • Open it up and then check the signs below. If you’ve had a watermelon for quite awhile and you can’t tell if its bad from the outside, you may have to cut it open. Once you do, use the signs below that talk about watermelon flesh to figure out if its bad.

How to Tell if Cut or Prepackaged Watermelon is Bad

Sometimes you may have a container of cut-up watermelon in the fridge—either prepackaged or cut previously from a whole melon. If this is the case, there are different indicators to look for in spoilage.

  • Smell it. The watermelon should smell normal. If anything, it should smell slightly watery with vague hints of sweetness. If it smells weird or rotten, throw it out. Any sickeningly sweet smell that’s full of decomposition is not good.
  • Look at the appearance. If there are any dark spots, mold, or anything that looks fuzzy, you should throw out the watermelon.
  • Check for a slimy feel. Sliminess is an indicator that the watermelon is bad. Its better to just throw it away then to try and wash off the slime.
  • If all else fails, taste it. If you try a little bit and the watermelon has a sour flavor, it is likely bad.
  • Check the best-buy date. Though whole watermelons aren’t often sold with their best before date indicated, you can usually find a sticker on half watermelons or pre-cut packets. Just make sure that you always use the above signs to look for spoilage as well!
prepackaged watermelon best buy date

Make sure to check for spoilage on other fruits too, like lemons, oranges, and peaches!

Troubleshooting Bad Watermelon

While the signs above are pretty straightforward, there can still be situations where you’re unsure of what to do.

Help, my watermelon burst!

If your watermelon bursts, does that mean its bad? Yes, burst watermelons should be thrown away. A burst watermelon has been fermenting on the inside, oftentimes because of heat and neglect.

According to All Recipes, the first sign that this may happen is foam or liquid oozing out of the watermelon. As soon as you see this, it is best to throw the watermelon out as it is a sign it is rotting from the inside out.

What if there are splits on the inside flesh?

Some watermelons have splits on the inside, called “hollow hearts.” A YouTube video from 2018 claims that splits indicate the watermelon has been injected with chemicals.

However, others, such as those on the National Watermelon Promotion Board (NWPB) say that this claim is false. Instead, they say that watermelons cracked on the inside are safe to eat, and even “often taste sweeter as sugars are more concentrated along the cracks.”

Is mushy watermelon okay to eat?

Watermelon that is mushy is usually a sign that it is overrripe, but not yet rotten (as long as it still smells and taste okay).

While the texture won’t be as pleasant as a firm, fresh watermelon, it is safe to eat overripe melon as long as it doesn’t have other spoilage signs.

watermelon on a plate

Storing Watermelon So It Lasts Longer

Whole Watermelons

Whole watermelons will last on the counter for around 7-10 days. However, if it is summertime and you want to guard against your whole watermelon fermenting, just pop it in the fridge! Colder temperatures slow the ripening of the fruit.

Sliced Watermelon

For slices of watermelon, one storage option is to wrap them in plastic wrap and put them in the fridge. You can also seal them in an airtight container.

Cut Watermelon

For pieces of watermelon that are cut without the rind, you will want to use an airtight container. Again, store in the fridge, or freeze the watermelon for use in smoothies, lemonades, etc.!

For either sliced or cut watermelon that’s in the fridge, be sure to eat it in 3-5 days. Otherwise you’ll have to start checking for those spoilage signs we talked about above.

Conclusion

Watermelon is a summer treat that many crave. However, it is important to know when it has gone bad so you don’t eat spoiled watermelon. Make sure to check for soft spots & discoloration BEFORE buying a watermelon so you’re not disappointed when you split it open!

Further Reading:

watermelon slices with text 'how to tell if watermelon is spoiled'

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