How To Pick A Good Watermelon

Summer is the time to chomp into a big, juicy, pink watermelon with friends and family. Spoofee has got a handy guide to picking a good one:

  • Tap the watermelon with your knuckles and listen for a hollow sound
  • There should be little color contrast between the green stripes
  • The end should be going from white to light yellow
  • Press your thumbs into the skin from all angles. It should be hard all around.

How to pick a good watermelon [Spoofee]
(Photo: Maulleigh)

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  1. snazz says:

    i carried a watermelon….

  2. MENDOZA!!!!! says:

    The best thing about geneticly altering foods (besides the advent of the Pluot) is better tasting and seedless watermelon.
    I bought an organic the other day, and it was stringy and flavorless.
    More science, more betterer.

  3. timmus says:

    The “watermelon knocking” technique is not widely accepted, and is found mostly in mainstream American sources but in very few culinary books. For example “Larousse Gastronomique says: “When it is bought, it should be heavy and not sound hollow.” Some discussions in the Usenet group rec.foods.cooking also show a lot of conflicting information.

  4. Illusio26 says:

    I worked in a produce department for a few years as a high school job. Just about every person I ever worked with said all those watermelon picking tips were bunk.

    The only real way to see if a watermelon is ripe is to cut it open. There are ways to see if other fruit are ripe from the outside, but for watermelons, its pretty much luck of the draw. There were a lot of “thumpers” though. Some days it sounded like we were having a hippie drum circle…

  5. skittlbrau says:

    @Cassifras: i LOVE pluots (though my grocery store calls them dinosaur eggs).

    My pick for watermelons? One I can carry awhile, since I don’t have a car :o)

  6. gibsonic says:

    thumping always works for me.

    either every watermelon in the batch at the store is super yummy and ripe or i’m a good thumper.

    also, pretty much any watermelon that is either ripe or almost ripe gets 100% better after being chilled in the refrigerator for a day.

  7. Dustbunny says:

    @baa:

    You want the “personal watermelon” then — compact and easy to carry : )I’m not making this up.

  8. SaveMeJeebus says:

    1. Bring home just about any ol’ watermelon
    2. Drill three holes in the top
    3. Funnel in some watermelon infused vodka
    4. Refrigerate/freeze for a few hours
    5. Serve
    5. Profit! Er… Intoxication!

  9. philbert says:

    If the light spot on the watermelon is yellow the watermelon is too ripe. Find the one with the whitest spot and it will be the firmest without being soggy. If the spot is turning yellow it is too ripe and has started to breakdown and turn mushy inside.

    God told me this so it is true.

  10. skittlbrau says:

    @SaveMeJeebus: YES. Though my last vodka melon was a bit too strong.

  11. theblackdog says:

    This article would have been great two months ago, why did it show up now when summer is almost over?

  12. wring says:

    the less yellow the better.

  13. mopar_man says:

    @Cassifras:

    I find seedless watermelons disgusting. The ones with seeds always taste better.

    Why does no one check for watermelon ripeness with the Gallagher method?

  14. mk says:

    @theblackdog: May through August is peak season for watermelon, so it’s not too late. I just got a lovely watermelon in my farmer’s box.

  15. Bye says:

    Know of what you speak, folks.

    Pluots are not “genetically modified” – they are hybrids. As are many of the advances we see in fruits, vegetables, and other plants.

    People have been creating hybrids for a long time to improve or change varieties. But this process has nothing to do with extracting the genes of completely different species (or genus!) and altering an existing plant instantly.

    I’d encourage any of you who equate the long-time practice of hybridization with genetic modification to read up a bit on them both to learn just how different they are.

  16. ideagirl says:

    WTF is a “pluot?”

  17. march_or_die says:

    It’s all about the sugar bursts.

    And for one of the commenters above, I think Dinosaur Eggs are just a type of pluot. They just have a higher ratio of apricot to plum.

  18. skittlbrau says:

    @ideagirl: a piece of heaven.

    but seriously, a mash up of a plum and apricot. they’re spotted and yellowish, with a reddish yellow flesh. my grocery store labels them dinosaur eggs, and they are probably kept with all of the other stone fruit.

  19. DadCooks says:

    How did Pluots (cross between plum and apricot) get in a watermelon discussion?

    Two words on how to find the perfect watermelon — Farmers’ Market.

  20. skittlbrau says:

    @march_or_die: I think it’s just a marketing name, kind of like those peaches that look like donuts.

    i see them called ufo peaches, donut peaches, saucer peaches, etc.

  21. jeff303 says:

    @Rey: True, in the strictest sense hybrids are not GM. However they are “artificial” in the sense that they were created by our intervention, and they cannot reproduce without our intervention. Thus people who care about the distinction between natural and unnatural would probably lump them into the latter (though admittedly not GM).

  22. AcidReign says:

        The Walmart watermelons this year have been kinda tiny and shriveled up. I’m guessing that it’s not possible, yet, to ship them in from China and still sell them for $5.

        To get a decent watermelon in our parched part of the world, you have to head to a place like Whole Foods or Tria Market, and pay $10-15 for a nice plump seedless one. Ouch.

  23. MENDOZA!!!!! says:

    @Rey

    easy there champ. no one gets extra points for correctness.

    sheesh!

  24. RossMcD says:

    @jeff303:

    “Thus people who care about the distinction between natural and unnatural would probably lump them into the latter”

    That’s setting the bar pretty high. If you want to be really strict about it, then most food varieties that we grow have been altered by many generations of artificial selection. Corn didn’t exist in the wild; man domesticated wild maize plants about 500 years ago. By strict standards, all corn is “unnatural.”

    Personally I don’t draw a black-or-white distinction between foods being either “natural” or “artificial.” Various methods have their pros and cons. I mostly avoid GMOs because of environmental risks (drift of transgenes into wild populations is very common in plants).

    More broadly, when I can I avoid food that is mass-produced. In general, the 99 cent head of lettuce (etc) is a variety that has been bred/engineered for traits that make it cost-effective for the food biz. This usually means making it have a longer shelf life, have thicker skins so they can be loaded more quickly & stacked higher without breaking, and having more color in their skins to appear prettier and sell more.

    All this generally comes at the cost of reduced flavor and nutritional value. The flavor part is just my personal observation – taste a cheap tomato versus an heirloom tomato and there’s no competition! The nutritional value part has been documented. For example, [seattlepi.nwsource.com]

  25. infinitysnake says:

    @timmus: I have to go with Larousse on this one…heaver=sweeter.

  26. Bye says:

    @jeff303: I totally support what you’re saying, but I really think there’s something to be said about a combination process that can be gently guided as those who came before us recognized as opposed to one that can be forced in a matter of hours. There is a lot of work involved in working with hybrids, but ultimately nature won’t allow you to force a hybrid if the two items are too dissimilar. I think there’s something to respect in that.

    When it comes to actually modifying the genes of disparate organisms (e.g., cow genes in tomatoes, etc.) – especially when it can wreak havoc with environmental drift and other things completely out of our control – that’s when I start to question it all.

  27. mac-phisto says:

    i used to work in the produce dept. of a large supermarket & we would get quite a laugh watching customers trying to find the perfect melon.

    knocking on a watermelon will only reveal one thing: you know absolutely nothing about picking a watermelon.

    pretty much everything else is good advice. what i usually do is peruse the pre-sliced melons (hint: they all come out of the same barrel).

    here’s a bit of advice at least a few customers every summer didn’t heed: don’t buy a watermelon & leave it on the backseat of your car on a hot day. it WILL explode. & no, the supermarket will not reimburse you for the cleaning (seriously had a woman demand that once. took all my energy not to laugh in her face).

  28. CoffeeAddict says:

    Watermelons are great as long as the seeds are in the fruit. Seedless ones seem to be lacking something in the flavour dept. I kind of already knew the way to find a good melon but good advice all the same.

  29. bbbici says:

    I take an apple corer with me when i shop for produce. then if i’m looking for a melon, cucumber, cabbage, orange, whatever, i just take a core sample and taste it. if the produce is poor, then i sample another one until i find a good one.

  30. capturedshadow says:

    I have had good luck with melons and other fruits by picking ones that are a bit heavier than the others of the same size. They heavy ones have more liquid so are juicer. Not a big deal with berries or apples but with citrus fruit and melons it is worth checking a few

  31. sandrine says:

    The hybrid-pluot conversation may have already petered out here, but I just wanted to suggest that to talk about whether a hybrid is “natural” or “unnatural”, it’s necessary to be specific about which plant you’re talking about. (Nevermind that agriculture itself is an “unnatural” process.)

    For example, the word “hybrid” in the tomato business means something different than the word when it’s used to describe a pluot.

    A pluot is a hybrid in the same way that every other single variety of stone fruit we eat is a hybrid. It’s been selected and stabilized over time. In fact, most modern varieties are hybrids of hybrids of hybrids.

    For something like a pluot, hybridization happens through open pollination (bees) or it happens through closed pollination (humans taking pollen from one plant and dusting the stigma of another plant with it). From that point, it takes many years to select promising varieties.

    The fact that the pluot contains some plum and some apricot does not make it any less “natural” than a plum variety with different plums in its lineage. Our taxonomy is imperfect, and all stone fruits probably have some common lineage.

  32. FMulder says:

    Plant hybrids can (and do and have) occurred naturally, and are most likely to reproduce. Don’t confuse plant hybrids with animal hybrids! And of course they are natural, since such hybridization is natural.

    If you can’t tell the difference between GM and hybrids, you obviously don’t have real experience with planting.