So here’s my Tale, and I’m sticking to it. I recently received an email from someone very dear to me asking if I had any tips for how to pick a watermelon. Her family had recently bitten into a few, and only one watermelon out of several had met their standards for sweetness and goodness. Apparently she is not alone, because after I started researching this subject further … this same scenario is being played out all around the country!
Locally, our watermelon stands are scarce. My hubby and I drove around the last few days trying to find a few – even in the rural areas where fruit and veggies are sold by the roadside. We never stumbled across any watermelons that had those big black seeds in them – they were all labeled seedless watermelons. This is the growing trend, I understand. And, much to our surprise, the watermelons we did find were actually smaller than the ones I saw in my local grocery store! Long story short, we did not buy any from the few fruit stands we stopped at. Our little adventure troubled my mystified hubby, and all he kept saying was “What happened to all the watermelon stands you use to see by the side of the road?” It was sad, really … and we found ourself yearning for the good ole’ days.
From what I have been able to research, it appears that Watermelon Breeders are trying to experiment with different varieties (cross-breeding) by coming up with melons that are attractive, disease-resistant, ship well, and grow fast. All of these pursuits are well and good, as long as we don’t forget the most important trait – TASTE. Personally, I think we should leave a good thing alone. Men in little white suits don’t need to be doing strange things to my sweet and beloved watermelons! Okay, enough of my ramblings …
My Tips for How to Pick a Watermelon:
When I went to my local grocery store, this is the lot of watermelons I had to choose from. I wasn’t shy; I examined each one carefully. You need to do the same.
Look for a watermelon that is heavy for it’s size. When you pick it up, you think “Whoa … this thing weighs a ton!” If it is not heavy, leave it alone. The sweetest and juiciest watermelons are heavy, because they contain a large quantity of water. You could weigh them at the store, but it’s really not necessary. Just pick them up, and if you are surprised by their weight (for their size), that is a good indicator.
Pick a watermelon that is firm and symmetrical in shape. If it has cuts, dents and/or bruises – keep looking.
If the melon still has a green stem on it, it is not ripe. The stem (if still attached) should be somewhat discolored.
Some people like to go for the “sound” test. If you tap the underbelly of a watermelon and it sounds like a hollow thump – that should be music to your ears. Under-ripe and over-ripe melons will sound dull. I always get strange looks at the store when I do my sound test. I literally cradle the watermelon in my arm, move it close to my ear, and then tap the underbelly. People look at me strangely; however, I just look up and flash them a big smile … because I know I will be going home with a winner 🙂
The skin color of the watermelon should be a medium shade of green, not too light – not too dark. A medium hue of green will be a good choice.
Look for the ground spot on the melon, which is where the melon has been resting on the ground to ripen and grow. The spot should be a creamy or light buttery shade. If it is white, then it has not been sitting on the ground long enough to completely ripen. If you turn the melon over and can not find any spot (the entire melon is green all over) then put that melon back and keep looking. That melon, most certainly, has not been resting on the ground long enough to fully develop.
No matter which way you slice it, watermelons are versatile, healthy, and conveniently available year-round! If you follow all of my Tips above, hopefully you will be able to secure a sweet and tasty one for your next gathering. And that, my friends, is the Thrill of the hunt. Enjoy!