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Jun 2, 2008 11:11 AM

Where to buy really good watermelon?

Is it possible to buy good watermelon in SoCal??? I've been living here for almost 20 years. In all that time I don't think I've ever had really good watermelon. All the watermelon I've had has had very little flavor, tasting watered down (no pun intended).

It must be possible to find some fruit with a strong, intense flavor. Where should I look?



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    1. re: OCAnn

      I have gotten lots of good watermelon in the last three weeks at Jon's priced at 3 pounds for a dollar. I can't believe how good it has been. I do not buy the biggest ones but rather the medium sized and had luck every time.

        1. re: unfrostedpoptart

          It's a local grocery chain, predominantly in west & north LA.

          1. re: OCAnn

            there's one in westminster as well

      1. re: OCAnn

        I agree. I've had really good luck with the (two-to-a-pack) small watermelons at Costco. They've been terrific. Just got back from the Hollywood Farmers Market...didn't see any there.

      2. Folks from Texas that I know make the same complaint. I know that the huge disc-rupturing watermelons that are knee-deep in black seeds are as scarce as $3.50 a gallon gas. I just tried one that was from a local Latino supermarket (thinking that I might luck out since fruit is revered in this community) - the seedless variety that even elderly ladies can carry with little effort - and it was just as you described. I'm not constantly on the hunt for great watermelons but I would think your best bet would be a farmers market in the depth of summer...

        6 Replies
        1. re: bulavinaka

          Is part of the problem the move to "seedless" watermelons? Do these inherently have less flavor? Or is it the tendency to pick fruit to early, before all the sugar develops?

          1. re: unfrostedpoptart

            I'm no expert on watermelons - I'm relatively casual about them, but I know folks from Texas and parts of the South who declare that watermelons in SoCal truly suck. I don't know if something is lost in the move to seedless - many fruit die-hards will tell you that seedless versions of fruit (like thompson seedless grapes vs. "real" grapes) lack dimension in their flavor. Maybe something is lost in the mutative process of breeding out the seeds. Also, different varieties of other fruits have different characteristics - early-season stone fruits versus mid- to late-season varieties are a classic example of how qualitatively different they can be. Strawberries vary considerably by variety - Gaviotas are sweeter, Seascapes have more fragrance and flavor. I am sure watermelons are the same. Another issue is culture. If you're growing watermelons in bright sun and 100 degree weather - a typical Texas summer - that's going to make watermelons sing. The seeds do add some flavor and of course mouthfeel to the eating experience, so maybe that has something to do with it. And I don't think it's because they are picked too early because you can get truly sweet melons now that seem to have been bred to be nothing but sweet. I suspect that it's a any combination of these factors.

            I am sure that today's consumer culture has changed the demand for watermelon. Toting home a 45-pounder, slicing it up and having a family of eight polishing off the whole watermelon is a thing of the past. Also, seeds are always disdained by the average consumer. Couple that with the notion that sweet is more important than taste, and you'll end up with melons that are smaller for easier transport, storage and sized for smaller families and couples; lacking seeds so every bite off the melon is nothing but juice and pulp, and sugary sweet to placate the masses.

            1. re: bulavinaka

              I stopped at the new Whole Foods in Tustin on the way home. Amazing market (and very high prices)! They had organic seedless for $.99/lb, organic regular for $.69/lb and generic for $.49/lb. I went for the $.69/lb.

              Well, the inside is very nice and bright red, but it's not very sweet and doesn't have much flavor :( Maybe I'll just fill it with vodka :^)

              There's a Costco in the same center. I'll try and stop there in the next couple of days and see what they've got.

              I love living in SoCal - been here for 19 years - but the produce was so much better in New York and New England.

              1. re: bulavinaka

                Seedless fruits are not bred. Its impossible to naturally produce fruit without seeds. Instead, before the plant flowers, they spray it with a hormone that induces fruit growth without seeds.

                1. re: AndyGanil

                  My naval orange tree in the backyard produces seedless fruit. I don't spray anything on it. But at the same time, I can see your line of reason.

                  1. re: bulavinaka

                    ah, reproduction- always fascinating and bewildering. in the case of the navel orange, it's not hormonal derange, the navel orange is seedless due to an historic 19th c. mutation ...the navel oranges we eat today are genetically identical to that original mutant orange - essentially you're eating clones. And yes, without seeds our little navel buddy has no way to reproduce naturally, so cuttings (with buds) are grafted onto another tree's trunk and roots as its "host".

          2. for much of last summer, the small (bowling ball sized) melons with the brand name of DULCINEA were very good.
            haven't had any good melons so far this year.

            4 Replies
            1. re: westsidegal

              I've relied on this brand for consistency as well. Firm sweet f;lesh every time, but again it could be what bulavinaka mentioned upthread, in that they are grown for sweetness. No worries for me, at least one melon is polished off in one sitting. I do miss the melons of the south though.

              1. re: westsidegal

                I picked up a couple of these at Costco last week. Pale flesh, almost zero flavor or sweetness:(

                I think I'll wait until July and then try a local produce farm (www.tanakafarms.com).

                1. re: unfrostedpoptart

                  We've had very similar luck lately with our past two watermelons. We were gifted once of those dolce-type watermelons from a friend who realized she had one too many and was heading out of town. Short on taste, not bad on sweetness, but not what I would consider even close to sit-on-the-porch-and-slurp quality. When we get melons like this, I think of them more like tofu, where they are better as bases for additions of flavor, so we diced it up, added some of this and that, and enjoyed it that way...

                2. re: westsidegal

                  Definitely a modern product, but some of the best watermelon I've ever had - it was a couple seasons ago.

                3. 99 Ranch Market. Good yellow watermelon too!

                  1. believe it or not...Whole Foods has delicious organic watermelon on sale now.
                    I forgot the price...but its really good!!!!