Whether you are preparing to go out and purchase a watermelon—or several!—or maybe you have a crop coming due that you want to be careful of, or perhaps you even have a melon on your counter or in the fridge that you just are not quite certain about, you are not alone in asking “How long does watermelon last?” It can be tough to tell with melons sometimes, and you certainly don’t want to take a risk on your or your family’s health!
Fortunately, there are lots of ways to tell how long a watermelon lasts, and even methods to help extend your watermelon’s shelf life, including dehydrating watermelon, storing it properly, and much more. Read on to find out the truth about how long watermelon can last and how to maximize its shelf life!
How Long Does Watermelon Last on Average?
Your average watermelon can be safely kept anywhere from a week or so once sliced to up to a month if left whole. Choosing a good watermelon will help immensely with determining how long does watermelon last.
Some key factors to look for when choosing a long-lasting watermelon are the shape of the fruit (it should be relatively symmetrical) and the texture (it should be firm and dense). Keep an eye out also for color; in addition to the typical deep or striped green shades, a ripe watermelon will also tend to have a yellow or brown spot that indicates where it rested against the soil while it ripened.
How Long Does Watermelon Last When It’s Whole?
The good news is that when it comes to figuring out precisely how long does watermelon last and how to carry your melons through to that expiration date, leaving your watermelon whole for as long as possible is an easy and key factor in the equation!
When we are talking about watermelons straight off the vine, they can actually last as long as 3 or even 4 weeks when left whole. This is a significant extension of shelf life from watermelon that is chopped or sliced, as we will see below. Especially when you factor in the time it takes for imported grocery store whole watermelons to reach their destinations where you purchase them—sometimes as long as 1 to 2 weeks—you are already working with a more limited window of time.
Now, if you are growing and harvesting your own watermelons, leaving them whole and harvesting them yourself does give you an added bit of time on the question of “How long does watermelon last?” You will be able to factor in those 3 to 4 weeks pretty easily with your own watermelons and will likely be much more confident about when to cut and consume them.
Whole watermelon should not be stored in the fridge; it is best kept in a cool, dark part of your kitchen, such as the recessed corner of a countertop or on a vegetable shelf in a pantry, until it is ready to be consumed.
How Long Does Watermelon Last When It’s Cut?
When asking the question “How long does watermelon last when it’s cut?”, one must take into account the storage factors in use. For example, bacteria can grow rather quickly on chopped watermelon that is kept at room temperature, so it is not advised to consume watermelon that has been left out on the counter or in a fruit bowl, or on a platter for more than 24 hours.
However, if cut watermelon is kept chilled in an airtight, sealed container such as a zip-top bag or glass or plastic Tupperware, this will significantly extend its shelf life; the chopped or sliced watermelon should still be good for up to 5 days. This is important to bear in mind especially if you are consuming precut watermelon from the grocery store, as these may have been sitting on the shelf for a bit and so may have a range of closer to 2 to 3 days and should still be eaten quickly.
How Can You Tell If Watermelon Has Gone Bad?
The Expiration Date
Expiration dates are a key element in determining how long does watermelon last, especially if that watermelon is precut from the grocery store. Although you may find a few days of grace with watermelons that you have grown at home yourself and are therefore aware of their precise shelf life, this is not so guaranteed when it comes to store-bought watermelons, whether whole or sliced. For this reason, you will want to pay close attention, particularly to the expiration dates on chopped or sliced watermelon purchased from the grocery store, and avoid consuming past the expiration date to avoid eating perished food.
The Nitrate Level
Another great method to help answer the question “How long does watermelon last?” is to be aware of the nitrate levels in melons like these. A high nitrate level shows that the watermelon is beginning to spoil, and can be determined by the presence of a particularly yellow rind or white stripes on the flesh; another trick to determining the nitrate level in your watermelon is to put some of the watermelon pulp in a glass of water. High nitrate levels will turn the water red and should warn you away from consuming that particular watermelon.
The Watermelon’s Outside Appearance
If a watermelon has long passed the point of being a viable candidate for consumption, this will sometimes be obvious by its exterior appearance; it may be moldy, bruised, or badly discolored. As mentioned above, nitrate levels might cause yellowing or whitening of the stripes. If the watermelon also feels extremely light, hollow, or soft as opposed to dense and firm, this can be a sign of a loss of water, which points to spoiling and indicates this watermelon is well beyond the point of a good answer for “How long does a watermelon last?”
The Watermelon’s Inside Appearance
When cutting open a watermelon in preparation to eat it, be mindful if it has a sour or otherwise foul odor to it. Even if its smell remains mild, you should also check the texture of the flesh; watermelon interior that is mushy, slimy, or too dry is indicative that the fruit has expired.
How To Store Watermelon To Extend Its Shelf Life
Refrigeration is one of the best ways to give yourself an extended answer to “How long does watermelon last?” When chopped or sliced and then placed in the fridge in a well-sealed container, or wrapped in plastic wrap that presses against the flesh, a precut watermelon can last 3 to 5 days. But keeping it tightly sealed is key to ensuring it retains a great taste and texture.
If you simply have too much watermelon on hand to reasonably consume before it expires, whether that is within a week or 3 to 4 weeks for a bumper crop or multiple melons, another method you can consider is freezing your watermelons. This will extend the timeframe of how long does watermelon last from a few days or weeks to up to 10 months! Watermelons should not be frozen whole, but can be chopped, securely sealed in appropriate containers or zip-top bags, and then placed in the freezer.
The question “How long does watermelon last?” almost becomes a non-issue when it comes to using the method of dehydration, which is rapidly becoming more and more popular among folks with lots of watermelons to go through all at once. Dehydrating watermelon can extend its shelf life quite a bit and make it easier to store and consume on the go, which is often a challenge with how messy watermelon can typically be. Check out our article on dehydrating watermelon to learn more about this process.
Wrapping Up Our Answer on How Long Does Watermelon Last
Determining how long does a watermelon last will help you make the most of any individual melon or crop you have on your hands!
Want to learn more about this iconic summer fruit? Then visit our watermelon plants page to learn more about watermelon planting, growing, cooking, and more!