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How to Tell If a Grapefruit Is Bad (With Pictures)

Perhaps you’ve held onto those grapefruits a tad too long. Or maybe you discovered their less-than-ideal state as you unpacked them at home.

Whatever led you here, the question remains: How to tell if a grapefruit is bad? As always, we’ve got your back. We let a grapefruit spoil quickly in our test kitchen, all for the sake of guiding you through the telltale signs of spoilage.

How Do You Know If a Grapefruit Is Bad?

A ripe grapefruit will have a vibrant color, ranging from a sunny yellow to a rosy pink or reddish hue, depending on the variety. Its skin should appear smooth and glossy, indicating its freshness.

When gently pressed, a fresh grapefruit will feel firm and resilient. One of the best ways to identify that the citrus fruit is fresh is by its fragrance. When you cut into the grapefruit, it should emit a refreshing and invigorating citrus scent.

Now that we’ve gone over what a fresh grapefruit looks like, let’s dive into how to identify a bad grapefruit.

If you notice dry and shriveled skin, a mushy and soft texture, dark spots on the surface, or a off odor, it’s a clear sign that the grapefruit has spoiled. Another obvious sign that it’s time to throw the fruit away is mold growth.

Let’s see what this looks like in practice.

As mentioned earlier in this article, we conducted an experiment in our test kitchen where we intentionally allowed a grapefruit to rot.

Over time, we observed that half of the grapefruit underwent noticeable changes. The rind of that portion became darker and softer, while the interior turned mushy.

A photo of the rind of a spoiled grapefruit.
A photo of the flesh of a spoiled grapefruit.

Additionally, during the course of the experiment, the rotting grapefruit started to emit an unpleasant, bitter odor. This odor is associated with the breakdown of organic matter and the release of compounds that signify spoilage.

Can Spoiled Grapefruit Make You Sick?

Eating spoiled grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice that has gone bad can lead to food poisoning.

Spoiled citrus fruits and citrus fruit juice have the potential to harbor harmful bacteria, fungi, and yeasts that can cause foodborne illnesses.1Guerra, J. (2019, March 14). 10 unexpected things that can give you food poisoning. Insider. Retrieved May 9, 2023, from https://www.insider.com/surprising-foods-food-poisoning-2019-3

These microorganisms can multiply and thrive under improper storage conditions or when the fruit is past its prime. Prioritize your health and safety and discard grapefruits or grapefruit juice that shows signs of spoilage and only consume fresh and properly stored citrus fruits and juices.

How to Store Grapefruits

Store your grapefruits at room temperature if you plan to eat them within the following few days or if want them to ripen. For prolonged storage of up to a few weeks, refrigerate them.

Storing Grapefruit at Room Temperature

Store grapefruit at ambient temperature if you plan to eat them within a few days.

Generally speaking, whole grapefruits can last for up to 10 days from the date of purchase when stored in a fruit bowl at room temperature.2U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (2019, April 26). Citrus Fruit. FoodKeeper App. Retrieved May 9, 2023, from https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep-food-safe/foodkeeper-app

Remember to keep your grapefruits in a cool, dry, and dark place such as your pantry. Adequate ventilation is crucial for extending the shelf life of your citrus fruits. Place the grapefruits in a fruit bowl, mesh bag, or open basket to allow air circulation around the fruits.

Storing Grapefruit in the Refrigerator

If you want to extend the shelf life of your grapefruits, it’s best to store them in the refrigerator. When refrigerated, grapefruits can typically stay fresh for 10 to 21 days from the date of purchase.1U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (2019, April 26). Citrus Fruit. FoodKeeper App. Retrieved May 9, 2023, from https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep-food-safe/foodkeeper-app

When storing grapefruits in the fridge, it’s essential to keep them dry to maintain their best quality. To do so, place the grapefruits in the crisper drawer, ensuring the drawer is set to the dry setting.

This neat trick will help maintain lower humidity and prevent excess moisture that can lead to mold or spoilage.

How Long Does Grapefruit Last?

The shelf life of grapefruits can vary depending on factors such as the variety, ripeness, storage method, and temperature. Different sources may provide differing information due to these variables.

Whole Unpeeled Grapefruit

According to the FoodKeeper app, a resource provided by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to promote food quality and minimize waste, whole grapefruits can typically last up to 10 days when stored in the pantry.

If you refrigerate the grapefruits, you can extend their shelf life to around 21 days.

Peeled Grapefruit

Once a grapefruit has been cut or peeled, it’s essential to refrigerate it properly to maintain its freshness and prevent spoilage. To do so, store the cut or peeled grapefruit in an airtight container or wrap it tightly in plastic wrap.3USDA (2023, March 22). How long should I store cut fruit and vegetables? AskUSDA. Retrieved May 9, 2023, from https://ask.usda.gov/s/article/How-should-I-store-cut-fruit-and-vegetables

By keeping cut or peeled grapefruit in the refrigerator, you can ensure its quality for up to 7 days. It’s important to consume the peeled or cut grapefruit within this timeframe to enjoy it at its best and avoid any potential degradation in flavor or texture.4Artés-Hernández, F., Rivera-Cabrera, F., & Kader, A. (2007). Quality retention and potential shelf-life of fresh-cut lemons as affected by cut type and temperature. Postharvest Biology and Technology, 43, 245-254. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.postharvbio.2006.09.009

Don’t leave cut or peeled grapefruit at room temperature for more than 2 hours (1 hour on warm days, when the outside temperature is 90°F or higher), as it can become overgrown with disease-causing bacteria and make you sick.5USDA (2023, March 24). What is the “2 Hour Rule” with leaving food out? AskUSDA. Retrieved May 9, 2023, from https://ask.usda.gov/s/article/What-is-the-2-Hour-Rule-with-leaving-food-out

Grapefruit Juice

Unpasteurized, perishable:

Fresh grapefruit juice is a perishable drink: it doesn’t keep well and spoils quickly.

Drink the grapefruit juice immediately after it’s squeezed, or refrigerate it in an airtight container and consume it within 3 to 4 days. Do not let unpasteurized grapefruit juice sit out for more than 1 to 2 hours.6USDA (2023, March 6). How should I store unpasteurized fruit juice? AskUSDA. Retrieved May 9, 2023, from https://ask.usda.gov/s/article/How-should-I-store-unpasteurized-fruit-juice

Pasteurized, shelf-stable:

Commercially-sold, long-life grapefruit juice is typically shelf-stable, which means it can be stored at room temperature in your pantry for an extended period.

An unopened bottle of shelf-stable grapefruit juice can last for about 1 to 2 years in the pantry or fridge.7Yang, J. (August, 2016). Preparing Shelf-Stable Citrus Juice and Drinks at Home. Retrieved May 9, 2023, from University of Guam Extension website: https://www.uog.edu/_resources/files/extension/publications/Citrus_Drink.pdf Once the bottle has been opened, it’s important to refrigerate the juice and consume it within 3 to 4 days.

Bottom Line

To determine if a grapefruit has gone bad, watch out for the telltale signs of spoilage.

A bad grapefruit will have a dry and shriveled appearance, feel soft and mushy to the touch, and emit an unpleasant odor. If you notice any mold growth on the peel or in the interior of the grapefruit, throw it away and don’t eat it.

Know your author

Written by

Dim is a food writer, cookbook author, and the editor of Home Cook World. His first book, Cooking Methods & Techniques, was published in 2022. He is a certified food handler with Level 1 and Level 2 Certificates in Food Hygiene and Safety for Catering, and a trained cook with a Level 3 Professional Chef Diploma.