How to Pick a Watermelon | Tips & Tricks

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Summer’s heating up, meaning it’s prime time for picnics and barbecues! But one thing’s certain: there’s nothing quite like a slice of juicy, refreshing watermelon to sink your teeth into.

But how do you pick the perfect one? You know, the one that’s gonna burst with flavour and quench your thirst? No one wants a mealy, flavourless dud, after all. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

Here are some easy tips (and secrets) to help you pick the ripest, most delicious watermelon every single time. Grab your grocery bag and let’s get pickin’!

Pick the Perfect Watermelon with the Six “S” Method

Picking the perfect watermelon isn’t rocket science, and you certainly don’t need enhanced senses to find a good watermelon. But there is a secret trick to finding the juiciest one in the bunch, which we call the six “S” method.

It means you gotta be on the lookout for six things: the spot, the stem, the shape, the size, the sound, and the skin. And no, you won’t need a magnifying glass.

Sure, your local grocery store might not have watermelons that check every single box on this list. No worries! If you can find one with at least three of these six “S”s, you’re golden!

The “Spot”

Check for the ground or field spot (where the watermelon rested on the ground). That big yellow or light orange patch isn’t a yucky mark, it’s a good thing! It’s where the sugars are seeping out to the surface, so the bigger the spot, the sweeter the watermelon!

You might be tempted to choose the prettiest, unblemished melon, but don’t! If the field spot is white or non-existent, it’s likely underripe and not that tasty.

The “Stem”

Look for a dried brown stem, like a crispy pretzel. This means the watermelon is ripened on the vine for longer and is ready to rock your taste buds. A green stem means it got picked too early and might be a bit on the bland side.

The “Shape”

Symmetry is super important. The watermelon should be big and round, like a symmetrical beach ball! Super oblong or oval-shaped melons might be more rind and nearly not as sweet as you may expect.

If a melon looks lumpy, bumpy, or uneven, it probably didn’t get enough sunshine or consistent watering, sometimes too much, sometimes too little.

The “Size”

Pick it up and see how it feels. You want a watermelon that feels nice and heavy for its size, meaning it contains lots of water and therefore juicier. If it feels light, it might be a bit dry inside.

Think of it like a water balloon – the heavier, the wetter! In fact, this tip applies to most fruits and veggies!

The “Sound”

Tap the watermelon with your knuckles. If it sounds hollow and deep like a drum, it’s a good sign! If it isn’t ripe yet, it’ll have a dull, flat sound, which some folks describe as somewhat similar to a squash or zucchini.

The “Skin”

Last but not least, look for a web-like pattern (or scars) on the skin.

Those dull brown marks are from bees pollinating the flower as it grows. It’s another clue that your watermelon is ripe and sweet and ready to be devoured! If the skin’s pale or shiny, it’s not ripe.

With these six super tips in mind, you’ll be a watermelon-picking pro in no time! Besides these, here are a few other things to look for if you’re stuck between two:

  • Colour: A darker-coloured watermelon means it ripened longer on the vine, making it juicier and sweeter.
  • Stripes: The stripes should have a nice, strong contrast between the dark and light areas.

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FAQ: How to select pre-cut watermelon?

Even though pre-cut watermelon is super convenient, you still want to ensure you’re getting a good one! Here’s how to pick the perfect pre-cut slice:

  • Look for bright red flesh. You’ll know the watermelon is fresh and ripe.
  • Pick pieces with dark brown or black seeds. These are mature seeds, and they usually mean a sweeter melon.
  • Skip the white streaks. This means the watermelon wasn’t quite ripe when it was cut.
  • Avoid pale seeds! Similar to the white streaks, pale seeds often mean a less flavorful melon.
  • Ditch the dry bits. If the flesh looks shrivelled or like it’s pulling away from the seeds, it’s probably past its prime. You want it juicy and plump!

Tips to Avoid a Spoiled Watermelon

We don’t want watermelon that might make us feel yucky. Here’s how to spot one that’s best left on the shelf:

  • Look out for dark splotches on the rind. These could be icky fungus or bacteria hanging out, and that’s not good for your tummy.
  • If the watermelon feels soft and squishy, or the flesh looks like it’s turning dark and falling apart, it’s a no-go! This could be from too much water or even a fungus.
  • Ever seen a watermelon with weird mosaic-like bullseye markings? Those might be caused by a virus, so best to avoid them.
  • If the rind has light brown, squiggly lines, that might mean some uninvited worm guests munched on it. No thanks!
  • Sometimes the bad stuff can be hiding on the inside too, like brown, dry patches on the rind where the flesh meets it.
  • If the watermelon smells sour or off, it has likely started to ferment and is definitely not a good idea to eat.

Seeded vs Seedless Watermelons: Which One to Pick?

Some folks love the classic seeded watermelon, maybe it reminds them of summer picnics as a kid. Others are all about the seedless kind, for the no-fuss snacking. There isn’t really any right or wrong answer here, pick whichever one you like!

With that said, seedless watermelons can sometimes have a hollow space in the centre, kind of like a three-pointed star. This happens because the bees weren’t able to pollinate the flower properly, as well as due to bad weather, not enough bees around, and maybe there just weren’t enough plants for pollination.

Don’t worry, this hollow bit is totally safe to eat. It might not be the prettiest melon on the block, but it still tastes just as delicious.

FAQ

Can a watermelon keep ripening after you pick it?

Nope! Unlike some other melons, like cantaloupes and honeydews, watermelons are one-shot deals. Once they’re off the vine, that’s it for getting any sweeter. So next time you’re at the grocery store, make sure you pick a good one!

Should I store a watermelon in the fridge?

It depends! Whole watermelons are happy hanging out on the counter at room temperature for about a week or so. This keeps them nice and sweet. But if you’ve already cut into yours, it’s fridge time! Wrap it up tightly to keep it from drying out and losing its flavour.

How long does a watermelon last?

A whole one can stay on your counter for a good long while, like 7 to 10 days. But a cut-up watermelon is only good for three or four days in the fridge. Remember, watermelons don’t like it too cold, so keep it above 40°F (4°C). Also, never freeze a watermelon whole!

One in a Melon!

Now that you know how to pick the perfect watermelon, it’s time to get creative because watermelons aren’t just for casual snacking!

Try a cool and refreshing watermelon salad with feta cheese and cashews or some decadent deep-fried watermelon for lunch, or quench your thirst with watermelon lemonade.

And why not go an extra step and impress your friends with watermelon-infused vodka for a perfect summer cocktail?

With your newfound watermelon knowledge, summer just got a whole lot tastier!

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