How To Pick A Watermelon - National Watermelon Day | The Nibble Webzine Of Food Adventures - The Nibble Webzine Of Food Adventures How To Pick A Watermelon - National Watermelon Day | The Nibble Webzine Of Food Adventures
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TIP OF THE DAY: How To Pick The Best Watermelon

August 3rd is National Watermelon Day.

Ready for some sweet, juicy melon? Here are tips for picking the best of the bunch.


1. Look for a stemless melon, with a slight indentation on the stem end. If the melon still has a stem, it could mean that it was picked before it was ripe. Once a watermelon is picked from the vine, it stops ripening. A melon should be ripened on the vine until its stem detaches naturally.

2. Choose a uniform shape. Odd bumps and curves may have “personality,” but can mean that the melon did not have consistent sun and/or water. Press the skin of in different spots to test for firmness.

3. Don’t worry if it’s dull. Some growers process their melons to put an attractive shine on—the equivalent of waxing an apple. A dull melon is perfectly fine.

4. Pick a deep green skin. The skin should be a rich green color with a smooth texture. This indicates an even amount of sun.

5. Check the “field spot.” This is the creamy yellow spot on the bottom of the melon, showing where it was resting on the ground. It indicates that the melon had the time it needed to sweeten in the sun. If the melon is green all over, avoid it: That often indicates a melon that was picked before ripening. A white spot on the bottom is better than no spot.

6. Heavy in the hand. Compare the melon’s weight with one of similar size, and pick the heavier one. Produce Pete advises this test with any fruit.

7. Give it a good slap. Hold the watermelon in one hand, then slap it with your palm or thump it with your knuckles (this is called a “knuckle rap”). Listen for a melon that sounds full, which has been described as “more like a tenor than a bass.” The bass indicates a condition known as hollow heart.

8. Buy from a good retailer. As you’ve no doubt noticed, fruit quality can vary from seller to seller. A better retailer tends to spend for better produce, so the retail price may be slightly higher. If you see melons at very low prices, they may indicate lower quality.

Chilling the melon before serving enhances its flavor on the palate. It’s better to slice it first, then chill.

If the melon lacks the sweetness you seek, here are some fixes:

  • Sprinkle with lemon or lime juice.
  •   Sliced Watermelon
    [1] If you purchase a whole melon, slice it before refrigerating it. A chilled melon tastes better (photo courtesy Good Eggs).

    Yellow Watermelon
    [2] Yellow watermelon is more available these days. The ones we’ve had have been super-sweet (photo courtesy DP Seeds)

  • Sprinkle with a bit of sugar or non-caloric sweetener (we prefer Splenda).

    The first recorded watermelon harvest occurred nearly 5,000 years ago, in Egypt. Check out the history of watermelon.

    We end with a quote from Mark Twain: When one has tasted watermelon, he knows what the angels eat.

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