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Watermelon - your trick to picking one

  • s

We love watermelon. Just got the first one of the season - seeded (I think seedless taste different but wife say not much different but that is another tread).

I stand around the watermelon displays and watch people try to pick one. The methods are greatly varied. What is your method for picking a good watermelon?

Do they continue to ripen/sweeten once picked?

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  1. Easy. Knock on it and if it sounds hollow it's ripe.

    1. I've read that you want to look for some oozing out of the stem end and a large white area where the melon has been resting.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Humbucker

        Never heard anything about the oozing part. I think I probably wouldn't pick an oozing melon.

        1. re: chicgail

          The ooze occurs because the melon is overflowing with sugar.

      2. heavy for it's size, a yellow ground-spot and if it sounds dead when rapped with knuckle you chances are pretty good.

        but this early it's really a crap shoot.

        2 Replies
        1. re: ScubaSteve

          SS, what does "dead" sound like? A riddle for the ages... adam

          1. re: adamshoe

            i think i'd describe it as no-echo, the opposite of hollow sounding.
            think something like a dead-blow mallett, it absorbs all impact.

        2. My local supermarkets have produce clerks, I use to ask them how to pick "the best fruit". Often, the clerks would cut pieces of fruit from the fruit we inspected.

          Last week at a supermarket, I watched a clerk cut slices from different apples. Customer wanted to know the difference in the different apples.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Alan408

            Which supermarket? I can get advice from my local produce guys, but the only place I can get that kind of attention is from the farmer's market.

            1. re: TampaAurora

              Two guys at a San Jose Nob Hill taught me, I have seen the produce guys at San Jose Lunardi's and recently a woman at a Redwood City Safeway giving melon tips/apple-orange tastings.

              The key is asking for help.

              1. re: Alan408

                no offense but the 17 year old that works in my local produce section can't tell broccoli from broccoli rabe.

          2. thumping it, with the hollow sound and then I smell it. I don't think I really know what I"m doing, but nevertheless, I've always bought nice watermelons. haha!

            Cantelope is easier for me, they really have a lovely musky aroma when ripe.

            2 Replies
              1. re: chef chicklet

                for Melons like Cantalope, Honeydew and Casaba i just shake them. if you hear sloshing around they're Very Ripe.

              2. My father always picked very ripe, sweet watermelons. He says he thumps it and checks for a hollow sound which tells him that it's ready. I've tried his method but I guess I don't have good hearing as I only pick a ripe, super sweet watermelon only 70% of the time! So I tend to wait until we're well into summer and proper watermelon season so my odds are better! :)

                1. Good shape of the melon
                  Yellow or creamy yellow on the bottom of the melon to show it has ripened
                  heavy, meaning it is full of water
                  dull thump, not hollow, meaning it is ripe, and I smack it with my hand or knuckles

                  This has worked for me in 85% of the melons I have bought since I learned these tips, about 2 years ago.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: danhole

                    I pick it up and make sure it's nice and heavy, and check for obvious discolourations/markings on the shell. The last two melons I bought were both yummy.

                  2. Jfood has a sixth sense for melons (he has an issue with cucumbers so it evens out). For water melons, he goes though the routine of feeling the weight and doing the thump. It makes him feel better. Then he takes a deep breath and concentrates at the melons and he eventually has the feeling which to buy.

                    Cantaloupe and honeydew as well. He picks them up and rolls them in his hands and concentrates. The sorta "tell" him which one and when to cut them. Two fridays jfood picked up a cantaloupe and wrote on the board to cut on Monday night, it was perfect. Last friday little jfood asked for honeydew but none were ready. He bought one and told her he had to wait until Sunday night to cut before he left for the week. Again it was over the top good.

                    7 Replies
                      1. re: alwayscooking

                        it is really strange A, but it has worked for years. Mrs jfood says she will get worried if he tells her they speak back.

                        1. re: jfood

                          Better keep them (or jfood) muzzled (you'll need to share the hardware)
                          A talent is a talent no matter how rare

                          And my pineapple just went south
                          Without telling me
                          It was traveling

                          1. re: alwayscooking

                            pineapples are easy.

                            choose one that looks sweet then pull gently on the hair. If the hair comes out easily then take a quick sniff. Three yeses and it goes in the basket to buy.

                            1. re: jfood

                              Master of fruitcraft
                              The pineapple was ready
                              But me, I was not

                              1. re: alwayscooking

                                Have faith grasshopper. for the moon shall shine brightly on those who feel the bear invade the Yukon in search of items never obtained.

                                1. re: jfood

                                  His journey begins
                                  with the first paw

                                  (I flashed on a bear on the hunt for Yukon Golds in the permafrost)

                    1. Watermelons cease ripening once they are picked, and therefore cannot be expected to get much sweeter with age.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Luwak

                        Ditto for pineapples...I visited the plantation; I was enlightened. They make a point of picking them when ripe (at least in Hawaii, don't know abt. the Philippines, Guam, etc) The "hair" as jfood eloquently put it, should always come out w/ a gentle tug. Dole and Del Monte Pineapples and juices are NOT from Hawaii, while most "house" brands of juice ARE! Look for the 100% Hawaiian label stamped on the can or the "Maui Gold" brand of fresh pineapples. No, I am NOT from Hawaii, nor do I own stock in The Maui Pineapple Co. !! I just think pineapples from HI happen to kick all those other ones to the curb. (or pull their "hair" out ;) ). adam

                      2. Seedless watermelons have overtaken the market, and I say this because I haven't seen a watermelon with seeds in years. I miss the days when a person could pull up to a tractor trailer loaded with watermelons and pick out a ten or fifteen pounder for a couple of dollars.
                        The newest trend nowadays seems to be these miniature watermelons. Dulcinea has one of the best available and thankfully you can leave all the guesswork up to them. They are sweet and picked at their peak. You might want to give one a try.

                        Dulcinea --> http://www.dulcinea.com/products/Pure...

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: Cheese Boy

                          i love the idea of these mini-melons but every one i've tried the flesh has been flabby. are they not as Crisp as a full sized melon or have we been getting old fruit?

                          1. re: ScubaSteve

                            Same with me, SS - I gave up on them last year. Some of the best watermelons in the world are grown in this state and I'm waiting for those!

                            1. re: bayoucook

                              Best melons are from Texas. JMO. Maintaining freshness with proper refrigeration is key once the fruit is picked and brought to market. Mealy apples and flabby-fleshed watermelons are inexcusable.

                          2. re: Cheese Boy

                            OK here's jfood's question. If the watermelon are seedless where do the seeds come from for next year's crop?

                            1. re: jfood

                              Is that a koan?

                              Likely you already know that's it's a 'mule' of two seeded plants.

                              1. re: alwayscooking

                                Yep. Seedless melons are hybrids, just like most supermarket tomatoes.

                                My secret to selecting a ripe melon: don't buy one during the first month of the season.

                              2. re: jfood

                                Jfood, good question. Along with the females, there are *male* miniature watermelons in the fields that are white fleshed, seeded, and inedible, but their presence is essential. Perhaps the male seeds have an answer to this enigma [somehow]. You can verify this information by watching an episode of Unwrapped: "Picnic Basket" on the Food Network.