My Orange Is Red Inside: Is It Safe To Eat?

Oranges are usually, as the name suggests, orange inside, so it’s pretty surprising if you cut into one and find that it is red instead. You might have hesitated to eat the flesh if this has ever happened to you.

In most cases, an orange is red inside due to its variety. Dark red oranges tend to be known as blood oranges, and they can vary from a deep orange to brilliant vermilion, depending on a few different factors. They are perfectly safe to consume and have a wonderful flavor.

In this article, we’re going to check out what makes oranges red, why some varieties are redder than others, and whether red coloration means that the orange may be unsafe to eat.

Why Are Some Oranges Red?

red oranges

Although most oranges are a rich orange hue beneath a rich orange peel, occasionally the skin may hide a deeper and darker color – and sometimes, you’ll cut one open to find the flesh is a beautiful ruby hue. This can be surprising if you aren’t expecting it, and it might leave you uncertain about whether or not you can eat the orange.

These are often known as blood oranges, and they differ from standard oranges in several ways:

  • They are often somewhat smaller (although obviously different varieties of orange can also vary in size)
  • Their skin is pitted and a little thicker than a normal orange’s, although the difference is minimal
  • They have a sweet, fruity flavor that is somewhere between an orange and a raspberry, rather than just an orange
  • They are often easier to peel
  • They tend to have fewer pips

You might think that you could never buy a blood orange without realizing that you have done so, but they actually look very similar to standard oranges, although their skin does sometimes have a redder blush to it. It’s surprisingly easy to mix up blood oranges and other oranges, so unless you look at the tag, it’s also easy to purchase blood oranges without intending to.

This can lead to confusion when you then go to eat the orange and find that it is red inside. However, it shouldn’t usually be an issue, as blood oranges don’t taste very different from standard oranges, and they can be used in the same way in recipes. There are no particular drawbacks to having purchased a blood orange by mistake. They are sweet, delicious, and very pretty to look at.

The color of a blood orange can vary from sunset red to deep maroon, depending on the growing conditions. Every hue of red can be found in these fruits, and they can also be streaky or blotchy, rather than one single color. Don’t worry if your blood orange doesn’t look as uniform as you would expect.

What Makes Blood Oranges Red?

Blood oranges contain a chemical known as anthocyanin, responsible for the color of many different kinds of fruits, including things like blueberries. Standard oranges also contain anthocyanin, but this chemical is greatly increased in blood oranges and deepens the already rich hue of the fruit to a fiery red.

Although blood oranges are a variety of oranges, they are not uniform by any means, and many things affect the color inside the fruit. For example, experiencing warm days and cool nights during the growing period will often increase the red color. The season and the harvesting time can also make a difference, as can the kind of blood orange being grown.

The amount of red on the peel will also vary depending on the above factors, so it can be quite different from orange to orange.

What If My Orange Is Patchy?

Sometimes, blood oranges are very patchy inside. They can have dark, red flesh in one area and pale orange in another. This looks very alarming when you first peel the orange, because it looks like the fruit has started to rot in places. However, it is nothing to worry about; this is simply how some blood oranges form.

Remember that the coloration is affected by temperature, so if your orange has very varied hues in it, it’s likely that there were some significant temperature fluctuations while it was growing. As the external temperature swaps between hot and cool, the orange will start to develop more red, but it may not do so uniformly across the fruit.

This is nothing to worry about; the orange is still perfectly safe to eat. If you are unsure, however, check out the following section on how to tell if your orange has gone off.

How Do You Know If An Orange Is Okay To Eat?

The best way to tell if an orange is alright to eat is to check the smell. Oranges that have started to decay will have an alcoholic or acidic scent, rather than the sweet, citrus scent that they have when fresh. This is one of the clearest indicators that the fruit is no longer okay to eat.

You may also notice changes in the texture, as the orange will become mushier and drier as it starts to decay. Its segments may shrink and start to pull away from each other. 

The orange should be plump and firm with lots of juice in it. If it has shriveled up and started to desiccate, it is no longer good to eat.

Additionally, if you see any spots of mold on the peel or on the orange’s flesh, the fruit should not be eaten. If you’re still in doubt, try tasting a small piece of the orange. If the flavor is anything but sweet and citrusy, you will need to throw it away.


Oranges that are red inside are known as blood oranges, and these contain more anthocyanin, which produces the deep red hues. These oranges tend to have a slightly different flavor from common oranges, but they are perfectly safe to eat, even if the color is blotchy and looks strange.

Hey there! My name is Alex and I've been vegan for over five years! I've set up this blog because I'm passionate about veganism and living a more spiritually fulfilling life where I'm more in tune with nature. Hopefully, I can use Vegan Foundry as a channel to help you out on your own journey!