In many ways, a watermelon is a lot like a Christmas gift: You’re pretty sure you’re going to like what’s inside, but you’re never really sure until you open it. Unlike a Christmas gift, however, with a watermelon, you’ll like what’s inside 100 percent of the time. (I’m about 75 percent with Christmas gifts.)
Since you can’t stealthily peel back the wrapping of a watermelon in the grocery store to sneak a peek at what’s inside, you’ll have to employ some different techniques to determine its “ripeness.” Personally, I use the following three-step process to find the right watermelon and I have to admit, it hasn’t failed me yet!
1. LOOK – Your watermelon should be firm, symmetrical and free of major bruises or scars. Some minor scratches are okay, however. After all, the purpose of that thick rind is to protect the delicious contents inside. Ripe watermelons should also be dark green in color.
2. LIFT – The ripest watermelons have the most water. And since watermelons are 92 percent water, your watermelon should be relatively heavy for its size.
3. TURN – Turn your watermelon over and check out its bottom, which should have a creamy yellow spot (also called “the ground spot”). This is where the watermelon sat on the ground while it soaked up the sun at the farm. If this spot is white or greenish, your watermelon may have been picked too soon and might not be as ripe as it should be.
Now I know what a lot of you are thinking: “What about the sound test? You know, knocking, tapping, drumming or thumping on the watermelon to test its ripeness?”
Here’s my stance on using your watermelon as a bongo drum in the produce aisle: While it’s true that the “sound test” can give you some insight on a watermelon’s ripeness, I don’t endorse or use the test because it’s too subjective and there’s no definitive agreement on which result the test is supposed to yield.
Some say a ripe watermelon will produce a hollow sound, while a “thick” or “solid” sound indicates a watermelon that’s not ripe or too ripe. Others say a hollow or “tight” sound is bad, and your watermelon should instead sound “firm.” Still others say a ripe watermelon should produce a B-flat sound. (What?!)
In other words, you can tap-tap-tap all you want, but if you perform the three-part test we talked about earlier, you should have no problem finding a great watermelon. As always, if anyone has any other tips or can clarify the sound test (please!), feel free to leave a comment!
1. Field Spot
The field spot is the white or creamy/yellowish part of the watermelon. It is the part that lay on the ground. The best-tasting watermelons feature a yellowish creamy color. Avoid the ones with white field spots.
The brown course-web like part of the watermelon is known as webbing. It occurs during insect pollination of the flower that scars the membranes which later becomes the fruit.
High pollination activities result in more webbing, and in turn, the sweeter the fruit. The next time you are shopping for watermelons, you know why you should pick the one with the roughest shell.
This news will be received with much amusement because only a few people know that watermelons have gender too. The tall and more elongated watermelons are usually boys, while the girls tend to take a rounder and stouter shape. A fascinating part is that, just like we would also guess, the girls are the sweetest, and the boys are usually watery.
Forget about being economical when you go shopping for this amazing fruit. The “bigger is better” aspect does not apply in this case. To increase your chances of choosing the sweetest watermelon, pick average sizes. Avoid both extremes.
Study the tail of the watermelon and pick the one that has dried, instead of the green ones. A green tail is enough evidence that the watermelon is not sufficiently ripe.
With the help of the above tips, finding a sweet watermelon should not be that difficult.
How to Pick a Good Watermelon:
- Find the Field Spot – Look for a deep yellow color. If there's a white field spot or no field spot at all, it likely won't be good.
- Pick a Dull Looking Watermelon – A shiny appearance indicates an underripe melon.
- Knock on It with Your Knuckles – Your knuckles should bounce off the melon, and the surface should be pretty hard/firm. Soft flesh indicates it's starting to spoil.
- Get the Heaviest One for Its Size – This applies to pretty much all produce, but you want to pick the watermelon that is the heaviest one for its size. That means there's more water in it.
- Check for a Uniform Shape – Some watermelons are round, some are oval, and either is fine. But if there are irregular bumps, this indicates the melon may have gotten inconsistent amounts of sun or water.
- Look for the Sugar Spots and Pollination Points – If you see black spots on the melon, this is where sugar is seeping out and indicates a sweet melon. Also, if you see dots in a line (not a scratch), these are pollination points, and the more of them, the better.
Nothing is as refreshing as a sweet, juicy taste of watermelon on a hot summer day.
But, as many of us learn the hard way, choosing the right watermelon at the grocery store is no easy task.
The good news is that as opposed to what you may have believed, there are actually great tricks to help identify the perfect, sweet, juicy watermelon you’re craving from head to toe.
Here are some great tips from an actual farmer that were too good not to share.
You’ve probably noticed large white spots on you watermelons. These spots, called “field spots” in fact reveal where the watermelon rested on the earth. The spots vary in color, from pale white to deeper shades of beige/gold. Aim for gold.
2. Girl or boy?
You may not know this (I didn’t!) but watermelons actually have ‘genders’. “Male” watermelon are longer and more oval while ‘female’ watermelons tend to be rounder. ‘Male’ watermelons are often more watery, while the ‘female’ melon is typically sweeter.
3. The size
The bigger the better, right? Not when it comes to watermelons. A watermelon should also feel heavy when you lift it, otherwise it may indicate that its juicy melon flesh has dried out. And nobody wants that.
4. Look at the stalk
Take a look at the melon’s ‘tail to help determine if the fruit is ripe or not. A ripe watermelon has a dried stalk. If the stalk is green, the melon was harvested too early and will not be ripe.
6. Hit the melon
A more well-known trick is to give the melon a tap. If the melon is juicy and ripe, it will give off a dull, hollow sound. Over-ripe or unripe watermelons won’t let out the noise.
Think these tricks may come in handy the next time you’re on the hunt for a juicy watermelon? Please share these tips to give your family and friends the upper hand, too!
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Picking a Good Watermelon
There they are. Watermelons piled high at your grocer for the picking. How from among those watermelons do you choose a good, ripe, sweet watermelon?
Look for the Creamy Yellow Spot
My daughters and I shopped for five good watermelons – for my youngest’s wedding reception. It was important to find good ripe watermelons. The first thing we looked for was the creamy, yellow field spot – this is an indication that the melon ripened on the field.
Look for a Dried Stem
The dried stem indicates that the watermelon that the melon is ripe and had begun to stop growing.
Look for Dark Sugar Spots
Looking at this spot of the watermelon, you can see the black sugary sap – this is an indication that the watermelon’s sugars are seeping out and that it is sweet.
The coloring of the watermelon
Now that you’ve looked for the creamy, yellow spot, the dried stem and the black sugar spots – take a look at the whole of the watermelon. Is it heavy? Is it’s coloring dark, uniform and dull…if this is the case the chances are that you have a winner!
This small seedless watermelon is just the right size for Dearest to enjoy…all of the children have moved and have their own homes. When they’re here, we’ll have one for all to enjoy! I’m glad my daughter’s showed me how to pick a good watermelon….
You see, I don’t like watermelons. I’ve tried, just can’t enjoy the taste. That goes for any melon for that matter! Sad, I know. So, for Dearest’s sake, I’ve taken my daughter’s advice to heart – I picked this one for him and he said, it was good and sweet. It tasted like summer!
Here’s a recap of what you look for in a ripe watermelon:
- Creamy yellow field spot
- Dried stem
- Dark Sugar Spots
- Coloring of the watermelon
- Heavy for its size
Here’s a free printable you can take with you to the supermarket!
Free Printable Shopping PDF!
Sweet Watermelon Video
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