How Long Does A Watermelon Last Before Cutting It Open?

Once a watermelon has been cut, it has a notoriously short shelf life of around three to five days when stored properly. That's why, despite the fruit's sweet taste and popularity, you rarely find watermelon juice on store shelves — it simply goes bad too fast. But what about a whole, uncut watermelon? The good news is that it can actually stay fresh for up to three or four weeks from the time it was cut from the vine.

Though watermelons have a delicate, water-rich interior, their rind is tough. The Charleston Grey variety, created in 1954, was bred to have a thick rind sturdy enough to withstand shipping and stacking without damage. These days, Charleston Grey is one of the most popular watermelon varieties, so you can be confident that your supermarket watermelon is pretty durable, but if you can't get your hands on one, other varieties picked straight off the vine can still last for up to two or three weeks when kept whole.

Where should you store your whole watermelon?

When planning how long you can hang on to your whole watermelon, you must account for the time it took for that watermelon to get from the field to the store, which cuts into its freshness window. That being said, you can likely keep an uncut watermelon on the kitchen counter for about a week at (or slightly below) room temperature and in the refrigerator for up to three weeks at most.

Storing it on the counter is probably the most convenient for space-saving, especially if you're planning on eating the watermelon quickly. If you end up with an extra watermelon after a weekend cookout, however, pop it into the fridge. Chilling extends its life, especially since cutting into a whole watermelon can be a significant commitment. If your kitchen runs warm, it's also a good idea to store your watermelon in the fridge. The only downside is that refrigeration may reduce the watermelon's antioxidant and mineral content, according to a 2022 study published in Metabolites.

How to make the most of your watermelon

The best strategy to avoid wasting watermelon is to have a plan. An average watermelon weighs around 20 pounds, and even small, seedless ones typically weigh between four to six pounds. Considering that half a pound of watermelon yields around one and a half servings, a 20-pound watermelon will yield up to 40 servings, and a six-pound mini watermelon will yield about 12 servings.

Start by slicing it into wedges or cubing only what you and your household intend to eat in the next two days. Keep the remaining portion that you intend to eat fresh within five days in one large, whole piece with the rind on, and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. The rest can be cubed and frozen. While watermelon doesn't defrost well, it is delicious when frozen and can be blended for smoothies, popsicles, or booze-optional watermelon slushies.

Eat fresh watermelon sprinkled with Tajín or topped with a drizzle of chamoy. Incorporate it into fruit salads or yogurt bowls, or go savory with a watermelon, cucumber, and feta salad. You can also make aguas frescas, watermelon lemonade, or a boozy beverage. Buy that watermelon with confidence — you've got time and options!