There is nothing worse than bringing home a great-looking watermelon from the store and finding out it’s not ripe after cutting it open. Fear not! Here are a few supermarket tips that will help you pick the juiciest watermelon from the bunch each and every time.
As a watermelon lover, I couldn’t wait to share the good news that there are actually steps you can take as a consumer to hand pick a juicy watermelon while shopping for produce. I have so many favorite recipes – like this watermelon cucumber salad – that include this sweet treat because it’s seriously one of the best fruits!
It’s a healthy summer snack that my family keeps on enjoying all throughout the Fall. So, the next time you head to the grocery store, use these tips to find the perfect watermelon for your family.
How to pick the best watermelon
First, make sure there are no soft spots or black spots on the underside of the watermelon. As soon as you find one, put it down and keep shopping. It’s not worth buying. Higher quality pieces will not have any spots. At first glance, you might miss this. So, be sure to give the whole melon a quick search. This is a really easy way to weed out a majority of your choices.
The next thing you want to look for are the “landing stripes.” Watermelons have white stripes that run across them, but you want to choose one with bright stripes that are about an inch wide. Stripe colors to look out for:
- deep, dark green color
- creamy yellow color
- dark yellow
These stripes should be shallow grooves, not deep ones. They should also be clear of scars or cracks in the skin. These all represent signs of poor handling from this year’s crop.
You might see people knocking on watermelons in the store or at the farmer’s market and this is for good reason. If you knock on a watermelon and it makes a hollow sound, it lets you know that it is ripe and ready for consumption. If the fruit still sounds full, then it is not ready quite yet.
Remember to check for a ripe aroma when sniffing your watermelon. They should smell fruity and sweet, not musky or stinky. Check the outside of the fruit for any foul smells – even the brown stem.
The last of the key features to look out for is the weight and size of the fruit. Does it feel like it is full of juice? You’ll want to choose one that has some weight since that means it was picked when mature and is now ready to eat, offering you a sweet slice once you cut in. A heavy watermelon is your best bet.
BONUS TIP: At a farm? Look at the stem area. It should not be dry or a yellowish-brown color. If the stem is still green, then you have yourself a healthy melon. So, when you find a field spot you like, look out for this feature. Ask an experienced farmer and they will guide you to the right area of their farm, containing the fruit ready for purchase.
Are darker or lighter watermelons better?
Sweet watermelons that are ripe and ready to eat may vary in color, ranging from very dark green to light green, to white. However, the darker the melon, odds are the juicier the fruit. Keep in mind that very light watermelons might not have enough time to ripen long enough on the vine. Some fruits will also display stripes or swirls of different colors within their base. This will not affect ripeness. While some might consider a fruit with an elongated shape, the taste might be affected. A rounded shape typically offers up a sweeter bite.
What is the best time to buy watermelon?
The best time to buy watermelon is between the months of May and September as this is officially watermelon season. These are the times of year when round melons are at their ripest and sweetest due to warmer weather. Just keep in mind that while some types like casaba or honeydew can be enjoyed during other times of the year, watermelons will never be quite as good off-season without an adequate supply of heat. If you want to enjoy that juicy red flesh, wait for the season.
Which watermelon is sweeter round or oval?
The round-shaped watermelon is sweeter than the oval-shaped one. This is because the concentration of sugar is higher in the red pulp of round watermelons.
In Summary – Best Indicators of Ripeness
The important thing to remember when looking for peak ripeness during the summer months is to take your time and test out your fruit before taking it home. An underripe watermelon is a literal bummer. Once again, here are the best indicators of the ripeness of a melon:
- Weight – You are looking for a heavy, juice-filled fruit.
- Shape – When held at eye level, the watermelon should be symmetrical and have an even shape all around – not lop-sided or bent out of proportion in any way.
- Stem End – Look for one where the stem end appears undeformed and evenly rounded instead of sharp, stubby or frayed. The stem should also be green rather than dried out or brown because a green stem often indicates that an older melon was left on the vine too long. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but over-ripe fruits are typically less sweet due to increased amounts of starch conversion in their flesh .
- Listen – Watermelons with deep, dull thuds are usually the ripest. The more hollow the sound, the riper and sweeter they will taste. Any sharp “thwacks” come from immature fruits that are not yet ripe enough to eat.
- Smell – Ripened watermelons have a fresh, clean scent that is cucumber-like or sometimes tropical depending on the variety of melon.
- Remember: The best time to buy watermelon is between the months of May and September because these are the times when melons are at their ripest and sweetest.
Look on the bright side, you will have to taste lots of delicious watermelon to figure out what you like. Might as well add in a few honeydew melons for good measure. It might take you a long time to perfect this skill, but the journey will be fun.