How Do You Tell if an Orange is Bad?

When you know the characteristics of a bad orange, picking the right one from grocery stores or eating a healthy orange at home will be easier.

Apart from this, having proper knowledge prevents you from consuming the bad moldy ones, which may cause potential health complications like food poisoning, vomiting, diarrhea, etc. 

But how do you recognize a bad or rotted orange? Well, some oranges become moldy, and anyone can tell they are no longer fresh. However, many people still fail to identify some bad oranges due to their normal look or appearance. 

This article will help you know the difference between bad and good oranges by their appearance, texture, taste, and smell.

A pile of bad oranges with black spots on them.

How Do You Realize an Orange is Bad by Its Appearance?

This part of the question is also important for purchasing oranges from grocery stores. Nobody wants to buy overripe, sour, or rotten orange. 

If you can identify good and bad oranges by their skin and texture, you bring a dozen healthy and tasty oranges every time you visit the grocery store. Here are the different ways to know an orange is no longer fresh:

Observe the Color

Oranges normally show off a bright orange color when ripe. However, you may see them in green-yellowish color sometimes. Green-yellowish hues suggest an under-ripe orange. 

Spotting any discoloration, such as brown patches or white patches, signals the presence of mold under the discolored skin. So, you better steer clear of such oranges. 

Patches of brown, mold, or soft rot on the orange’s skin indicate it’s spoiled and bad. So, any sign of fading and drying out clearly indicates orange gone bad.

Wrinkled and Darker Skin

The wrinkled and darker skin on an orange indicates the orange is deflated and past its prime. Sometimes, wrinkled-skinned oranges remain OK to eat, but they are not in the best condition anymore. Orange skin is often wrinkled and dehydrated when it gets old. So always look for an orange with bright, smooth, and flexible skin.

Cuts and Damage

If you notice any sign of cuts or exposure to the inner side of the orange, it is a big NO. The problem with deep cuts or bruises is that they are vulnerable to spoilage and the rapid growth of mold and bacteria. 

The exposure to inner fruit allows air and potential contaminants. Also, cuts can lead to moisture loss, making the orange less juicy. If the fruit feels dry or less plump around the cuts, it may not be as enjoyable and tasty to eat.

Healthy Oranges Are Heavy

Most of us like to buy or get oranges to make juice. Remember, the heavier ones are juicy compared to the lighter oranges. However, this doesn’t mean the lighter oranges are necessarily bad. They just have less juice and hydration. 

So if you want a succulent, enjoyable taste with higher nutrient value in orange fruit, you should better pick the heavy ones.

How Do You Tell Orange is Bad by Smelling and Tasting It?

Orange Taste Sour

The oranges that taste sour may have lost their flavor and are no longer in an optimal condition. This means they are no longer edible. However, sourness in orange may signify two possibilities: either the orange is unripe or overripe and past its freshness. 

But how do you know if the orange is still edible or not? Some common knowledge may help you figure out that.

Remember, when the orange still isn’t ripe, it may have a greenish tint to its skin. So you can tell by its color pattern. Besides, we already know that fresh oranges, whether ripe or unripe, are usually firmer to touch and press. If the orange feels hard when you press it, it might not be fully ripe.

On the flip side, overripe or bad orange may display a sign of discoloration or dullness on the skin. Besides, overripe oranges indeed taste sour, but the sourness might have a different, slightly off flavor due to the fermentation process. This happens when it is past its peak. 

Foul Smells

Overripe oranges might emit an off-putting or fermented smell. If the aroma is unpleasant or overly strong, it could be a sign that the orange is past its prime. 

Another sign of bad orange is its alcohol-like smell, similar to wine. When the molds take hold under the skin, you can get a musty, damp, and rotten smell.

How Does a Good Orange Taste?

The original taste of fresh orange can vary depending on this citrus fruit type. Commonly known oranges are sweet and refreshing, with a pleasant citrus flavor. 

But before maturing fully, they taste more sour. When the oranges are ripe and mature, they taste sweet and slightly sour. So, an average orange will have a mix of sweet, tart, and sour tastes.  

However, some oranges, like blood oranges, have a slight tart and berry-like flavor. These oranges can be sweeter than regular oranges and have a hint of raspberry or strawberry taste. 

Normally, oranges with the presence of low or no acid are sweeter compared to other oranges. For example, Lima oranges, the sweetest orange variety, have less acid in them. These oranges often grow well in South America and the Mediterranean.

How Long Does an Orange Last?

Orange shelf life depends on the temperature. The oranges can last for a week or more if they are kept at room temperature. Over time, they continuously lose their moisture level on a bowl or counter. 

But, in a cooler environment, it takes time for the orange to lose moisture and ripen. That’s why they prefer a cool environment to stay in good condition. 

On the other hand, excessive heat in summer may speed up the ripening process, reducing their shelf life. In this case, you can keep them for 4-5 days without refrigeration. 

If you store oranges in a refrigerator, they will be edible for one month. Unlike the high humidity, the cold fridge temperature slows ripening and mold growth, which prevents drying out.

If you’re curious about the shelf life of freshly squeezed orange juice, it typically stays fresh for 2-4 days. The relatively short duration is due to a decline in acidity and vitamin C content, particularly noticeable after the first day. 

On the other hand, canned orange juice has a much longer lifespan, lasting over a year if unopened and stored in the refrigerator.


Is It OK to Eat a Bad Orange?

Ans: It is not OK at all to eat rotten or bad orange. Harmful bacteria like Salmonella and E. coli often attack the rotten oranges. When you consume the bad orange, these bacteria will be inside your health, causing many health complications such as vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps. 

On top of that, if you eat moldy oranges, it is even more dangerous. Orange mold, such as Penicillium digitatum, produces mycotoxins that are very toxic for humans. They attack the immune system and other organs.

Can You Eat an Orange With a Soft Spot?

Ans: While some oranges with dark marks may still be edible, avoiding consuming them altogether is wise. Why take the risk of eating oranges that may be spoiled or rotten?

Besides, the mold, fungi, or bacteria causing the soft decay in an orange can be dangerous to ingest. Consuming infected sections poses a food poisoning risk. That’s why it is also best to avoid any soft spotted orange.

Can Oranges Ferment Into Alcohol?

Ans: Yes, oranges can be fermented into alcohol if all the possible conditions are applied. Oranges contain natural sugars like sucrose, glucose, and fructose. Yeasts can feed on these sugars and convert them into ethanol and carbon dioxide. 

This process is called fermentation. Orange is one of a few citrus fruits that can be fermented without dilution or alkalinization. The other citruses are mandarin and tangerine. Wine made from oranges is commonly found in South Africa.


In a nutshell, you can easily find out if an orange is safe to eat by its skin color or smell or by checking for molds. We must avoid the consumption of rotten or bad oranges. It is not just that bad; oranges taste awful, and they may cause many health complications. 

However, if you don’t want the oranges to spoil soon, you follow proper storage techniques such as keeping them in a cooler area or the refrigerator. Remember, freshness is key to enjoying the full, tangy flavor of oranges, and being attentive to these signs will help you savor every juicy bite.

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