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Watermelon - your trick to picking one

Soup May 17, 2009 11:51 AM

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?

  1. Cheese Boy May 19, 2009 02:56 PM

    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
      ScubaSteve May 19, 2009 03:07 PM

      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
        bayoucook May 19, 2009 03:26 PM

        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
          Cheese Boy May 19, 2009 04:49 PM

          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
        jfood May 19, 2009 03:24 PM

        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
          alwayscooking May 19, 2009 03:32 PM

          Is that a koan?

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

          1. re: alwayscooking
            Zeldog May 19, 2009 06:23 PM

            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
            Cheese Boy May 19, 2009 06:00 PM

            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.

        2. l
          Luwak May 18, 2009 07:44 PM

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

          1 Reply
          1. re: Luwak
            adamshoe May 19, 2009 05:59 PM

            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. jfood May 18, 2009 07:24 PM

            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: jfood
              alwayscooking May 18, 2009 07:30 PM


              the fruit whisperer . . .

              1. re: alwayscooking
                jfood May 18, 2009 07:40 PM

                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
                  alwayscooking May 18, 2009 07:44 PM

                  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
                    jfood May 18, 2009 07:48 PM

                    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
                      alwayscooking May 18, 2009 08:08 PM

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

                      1. re: alwayscooking
                        jfood May 19, 2009 12:47 PM

                        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
                          alwayscooking May 19, 2009 12:50 PM

                          His journey begins
                          with the first paw

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

            2. danhole May 17, 2009 09:04 PM

              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
                Kajikit May 18, 2009 10:08 AM

                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. s
                SeoulQueen May 17, 2009 08:18 PM

                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. chef chicklet May 17, 2009 04:39 PM

                  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
                    bayoucook May 19, 2009 03:22 PM

                    and honeydews too -

                    1. re: chef chicklet
                      ScubaSteve May 19, 2009 04:02 PM

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

                    2. a
                      Alan408 May 17, 2009 04:31 PM

                      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
                        TampaAurora May 17, 2009 08:30 PM

                        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
                          Alan408 May 18, 2009 06:53 PM

                          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
                            ScubaSteve May 18, 2009 07:09 PM

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

                      2. ScubaSteve May 17, 2009 12:27 PM

                        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
                          adamshoe May 17, 2009 04:06 PM

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

                          1. re: adamshoe
                            ScubaSteve May 17, 2009 06:03 PM

                            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. h
                          Humbucker May 17, 2009 12:21 PM

                          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
                            chicgail May 17, 2009 04:02 PM

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

                            1. re: chicgail
                              Humbucker May 17, 2009 08:27 PM

                              The ooze occurs because the melon is overflowing with sugar.

                          2. chicgail May 17, 2009 12:08 PM

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

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