Questions for the Cook

Picking the perfect watermelon

Dear Cooks:
I love watermelon but so many times I bring one home only to cut it open and it’s mushy and tasteless. How do I pick the perfect watermelon?
Nancy in New Jersey
Dear Nancy:
There is nothing more frustrating than cutting open a bad piece of produce. Here are some tips on picking the perfect watermelon:

  • Pick a symmetrical watermelon – round or oval, as long as it is symmetrical.
  • Press the skin of the watermelon in many different spots to test for firmness - good watermelons will not have soft spots.
  • Dark green melons tend to be sweeter than those that are lighter in color.
  • Watermelons do not continue to ripen after you bring them home, so what you see is what you get!
  • Go heavy. Watermelons are more than 90 percent water, so the most juicy melons are going to be the ones that seem very heavy for their size.
  • Look for a yellowish-white spot on the bottom of the melon which is where it was in contact with the ground while it was growing. If this spot is light green, the melon is not yet ripe.
  • Scratch the surface of a watermelon with your fingernail. A greenish-white color beneath the outermost layer of the rind indicates a ripe watermelon.
  • When you thump the side of a ripe watermelon, it will sound as if the fruit is hollow. If you hear a thud or a tone that is high in pitch, you’re dealing with a fruit that isn’t ripe.

2 Responses to “Picking the perfect watermelon”

  1. Joan says:

    If you are at a farmers market, please do not scratch all the watermelons looking for a ripe one. This will drive your farmer insane. :)

  2. Betty says:

    Some stores will cut them for you to try and still charge whole price, just ask. If I don’t like it I ask them to pick a good one for me and cut that. It’s worth a few cents more for that service.

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