I keep a lot of fruit in my pantry and every now and then I’ll get a bit of mold growing on one or two oranges.
So, I was curious about whether it’s dangerous to eat an orange with mold on it since I normally just throw it away.
I looked at the advice of medical professionals and a few health sites and here’s what I found.
Below, I will explain everything there is to know about mold growing on oranges, such as whether a moldy orange will ruin the rest, and why mold grows quickly.
Can You Eat an Orange With Mold on the Peel?
It’s common that mold will grow on the peel of the orange, and will be white, light green, and even black.
However, is it OK to eat an orange that has mold on the peel?
Mold goes hand in hand with the orange shrinking, and the skin becoming more soft.
Generally, by this stage, the orange has a vinegary taste that isn’t very nice to eat.
But, if the orange is still quite fresh but has a bit of mold growing on the surface of the peel, then you can wipe it off in some cases.
Or, simply peel it carefully by leaving a rim of fresh peel around the mold.
And then lifting it off as one piece very gently. As you lift it off you may notice that the mold has actually affected the surface of the flesh, and has made it slightly brown.
Or, has eaten into the flesh. When that happens it’s best to throw the whole orange away, according to medical professional Dr. Hassan.
But, in my opinion, many doctors will recommend the safest option, which can be a bit over the top.
For example, I have regularly removed a piece of rotting flesh from orange and eaten the rest.
And never got sick.
However, it is a bit of a balancing act because sometimes the mold can affect the whole orange and it tastes bad even the part that isn’t moldy.
Can you wash mold off oranges?
Washing the mold off an orange where possible is perfectly fine. Mold will use the nutrients in the skin to grow so the skin can have patches that are scoured out.
However, if you catch it early it won’t have altered the skin much at all. But, it can sometimes be easier to simply peel the orange.
However, if you’re saving the oranges for another day then wiping off the mold will stunt the mold’s growth.
And your oranges will last longer. You can wipe it off with a dishcloth or a paper towel.
Usually, you’ll need to do a few passes to wipe away all of it.
And running it under the tap can also help to remove as much of it as possible.
Why Did My Oranges Mold So Fast?
Once I kept some oranges in a bowl on the countertop and within about 1 week they started to grow mold.
It was much faster than usual, so I wanted to know how to keep mold from growing on my oranges.
You may have noticed in humid States like Hawaii and Florida mold grows very easily even curtain and clothing that isn’t wet.
The best way to keep mold from growing on fruit so fast is to keep it in the fridge. Fruits will typically last 7 to 14 days (1 to 2 weeks) on the countertop or in your pantry.
And in the refrigerator they can last 30 days or more. There is also the option to freeze fruit, however, it does take away the texture of the orange.
I wrote about how to freeze fruit in this – can you freeze fruit article.
There are a few tricks to make sure you don’t get freezer burn.
Does One Moldy Orange Ruin the Rest?
Sometimes it seems like when one fruit starts getting a bit of mold it starts to quickly spread to the other ones.
But, is that how it works?
So, the bottomline is that the mold produces more spores which will settle on the other fruits.
Also, the original spores that landed on the first orange, can have landed first. But, maybe the next day or two more mold spores landed on the other oranges.
And as a result, the mold started growing on the other oranges a few days later.
When Should You Not Eat an Orange?
Oranges are high in vitamin C, and certain varieties can be very sweet and delicious.
But, I was curious when you shouldn’t eat an orange. Here’s what I found.
Oranges will fruit and become ripe at different times of the year depending on the variety. For example, navel oranges are ready in the second half of the year from July to November. Whereas, Satsumi orange are ready from October to January.
Therefore, there’s a large window where an orange can be ripe, and as a result, an orange will begin to go bad at any time.
Should oranges be refrigerated?
Certain fruits and vegetables don’t need to be refrigerated and last for quite a while in the pantry. So, with oranges is it better to refrigerate them or keep them at room temperature?
Here’s a video time lapse showing an orange left on a counter for 30 days.
As you can see the orange looks quite normal for the first 14 days then the skin starts to turn an unappealing brown, and mold starts to grow from the base of the orange as the brown spreads to the remainder of the orange.
By about day 25 the orange is completely destroyed by mold. When fruit goes bad the chemicals react with each other.
Oranges don’t last as long at warmer temperatures
It’s generally known in science that the warmer the temperature the faster chemical reactions occur.
And is related to the kinetic energy being higher in warmer atoms.
When the atoms are slowed down they collide with each other less and so have less chances to bond and produce new chemicals and by-products.
So, keeping them in the fridge slows down the chemical process whereby the orange breaks down.
Do refrigerated oranges go bad?
Oranges will last for a long time in the fridge, and therefore you might be wondering whether they will eventually go bad.
Here’s what people who have kept oranges in the fridge for a long time have reported:
The main difference between oranges kept in the fridge and oranges that are kept at room temperature is that refrigerated oranges take much longer to go bad.
Mold can also grow on food kept in the fridge. Mold grows best in humid and warm environments but can also tolerate the cold of a fridge.
It’s common to see mold grow on the surface of jam.
And mold will develop on the surface of an orange left in the fridge.
Drawbacks of freezing oranges
Oranges freeze well, and will last for a year or more in the freezer.
But, when you defrost frozen oranges, they turn into a soft mush and lose their shape.
Because of that, it’s best to only freeze the oranges that you intend to use for baking, sauces, or smoothies.
I’m Chris Watson & the Founder of EatForLonger.com. I’m a food and wellbeing enthusiast researching and sharing foodstuffs and simple food-based concepts, such as fasting and clean eating.
I hope it inspires you to make tiny changes to what you eat and when you eat while optimizing your healthspan and all-around well-being.
Read more About Me here.