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Green Spots on Mandarin Oranges – The #1 Best Truth

Occasionally you may encounter green spots on mandarin oranges.

Since oranges are initially green before turning orange, this is almost inevitable. But not every green spot is the same.

While it’s easy to assume that the mandarin oranges aren’t fully ripe, mold is another possibility.

This can leave you wondering whether you need to let the oranges sit in the sun a little longer- or toss them in the garbage.

Since orange peels are rarely eaten, you may very well be tempted to simply peel the orange, remove the green spots, and enjoy the fruit. But is this a safe practice- especially if the culprit is mold?

Green Spots on Mandarin Oranges

Mandarin oranges will often have green spots, even if they are fully ripened. The culprit is chlorophyll, which protects the oranges from sunburn- especially when they’re grown in warmer climates- and results in green spots. However, moldy mandarin oranges also have green spots. In this case, the oranges are spoiled and should be discarded.

Green Spots on Mandarin Oranges
Green Spots on Mandarin Oranges

Mandarin Oranges Green Spots

1. Unripened mandarin oranges will have green spots

Most likely, you are already well aware of the fact that mandarin oranges were originally green.

So, it’s only natural for you to assume that the green spots mean that the fruit hasn’t completely ripened – and you may be correct.

Farmers don’t always wait until the mandarin oranges are fully orange-colored before picking them, as the fruit still needs to withstand being transported and sold before it is consumed.

If you think about it, you’ve probably noticed the same scenario with bananas.

It’s actually very common for green bananas to be sold at the grocery store. They aren’t ripe yet, but they will be soon.

The same can happen with mandarin oranges, especially since they soften quicker than many other varieties of oranges. In this case, you may want to wait a day or so for them to fully ripen.

Farmers don't always wait until the mandarin oranges are fully orange-colored before picking them
Farmers don’t always wait until the mandarin oranges are fully orange-colored before picking them

2 Chlorophyll causes green spots on mandarin oranges

Occasionally, mandarin oranges will still have green spots even after they are fully ripened due to a natural compound known as chlorophyll.

Most plants contain chlorophyll, which is essential for photosynthesis to occur.

Photosynthesis is the process by which green plants use sunlight to create energy and food that’s necessary for the plants to thrive.

While you may view orange trees differently than your rose bushes, the process is basically the same.

Orange peels produce chlorophyll to protect the fruit from being damaged by the sun’s rays and fuel the continued growth of the fruit.

Sometimes the mandarin oranges that are tucked deep within the leaves of the tree will produce more chlorophyll to maximize any benefits received by sunlight.

On the other hand, mandarin oranges that are grown in warmer climates may also produce more chlorophyll to protect themselves from sunburn.

Chlorophyll causes green spots on mandarin oranges
Chlorophyll causes green spots on mandarin oranges

3. Moldy mandarin oranges often have green spots

But green spots on mandarin oranges aren’t always normal or healthy. When mandarin oranges begin to spoil, they’ll often develop mold.

While the mold usually starts out white, it will turn green, black, or blue as the fruit continues to spoil.

Fortunately, it’s usually easy to tell the difference between green spots and mold. But if you aren’t sure, you can examine the oranges for other signs of spoilage.

Rotten mandarin oranges will be soft and squishy. The fruit may also smell funny or be dried out.

Moldy mandarin oranges should always be immediately discarded. Even if the mold itself isn’t harmful, it may contain bacteria, such as Salmonella, Listeria, or E.coli, which can make you very sick.

Moldy mandarin oranges often have green spots
Moldy mandarin oranges often have green spots

4. When it’s safe to eat mandarin oranges with green spots

If you suspect that your mandarin oranges aren’t fully ripened, you can always just wait to eat them.

But if you don’t want to wait, you should be careful about the higher citric acid level contained in unripe oranges. As far as the flavor, the jury seems to still be out.

Re-greened mandarin oranges are another story altogether. They actually taste sweeter than your average mandarin orange.

These oranges are fully ripened and contain more chlorophyll due to high temperatures or their position on the tree.

But sometimes, they turn completely orange and then become green again after a heatwave. This is called regreening, and this natural process can lead to some of the sweetest mandarin oranges that you’ve ever tasted.

Re-greened mandarin oranges are delicious
Re-greened mandarin oranges are delicious

Frequently Asked Questions Green Spots on Mandarin Oranges

How can you tell if a mandarin orange has gone bad?

Spoiled mandarin oranges will feel soft and squishy to the touch. They may also start to lose their signature citrus scent and smell off to you. You should go ahead and discard spoiled mandarin oranges- especially if they’ve begun to develop mold.

Why do my mandarin oranges taste sour?

Usually, dried soil is the culprit. When the soil is too dry, the mandarin oranges will be unable to receive the needed amount of nutrients, which will result in a sour taste. If your mandarin oranges are dried out, that’s also a sign of spoilage, so you may want to consider throwing them out.

How long can mandarin oranges be stored?

When stored at room temperature on your kitchen table or counter, mandarin oranges will only stay fresh for about a week. But if you store them in your refrigerator in an airtight plastic bag or container, they’ll last anywhere between two weeks to a month.

Conclusion About Green Spots on Mandarin Oranges

As long as the green spots on your mandarin oranges aren’t caused by mold, it’s still safe to eat the fruit. Sure, the oranges may not be fully ripe, but the flavor shouldn’t be affected much if they’re mostly orange.

But sometimes, the green spots may actually give the mandarin oranges a slightly sweeter taste- and there’s a possibility that they could be fully ripened. Mandarin oranges that are grown in hot, humid climates are known to have green spots due to increased chlorophyll production.

So, it’s really your call as to whether you want to go ahead and eat mandarin oranges with green spots. Mandarin oranges are still a sweet, juicy snack that offers many nutritional benefits– even if they have green spots.

Author Bio

Daniel Iseli (Head Chef)

Hi, my name is Daniel and I am passionate about cooking. I have been cooking for the past 20 years and am happy to share my best recipes and cooking-related knowledge with you.