HOME > Chowhound > Ontario (inc. Toronto) >

Discussion

When are juicy watermelons in season? How about heirloom watermelons?

Hey all, just a quick question, we are huge watermelon fans in this house but it seems 9 out of 10 supermarket melons are dry and gritty and don't have the wonderful fresh watermelon taste. Or the texture is off.. rubbery, slimy, etc.

Picking out a "good watermelon" seems to be a crap shoot at best, with people claiming "knocking on the watermelon" or "pressing your nails into the rind" is a way to determine ripeness.. I call bulls**t.

Anyone know when locally grown watermelons are available? Or how about heirloom watermelons, like Orangeglo watermelons, or yellow watermelons, or purple?

They are one of the most refreshing fruits out there but surprisingly difficult to get your hands on a good one these days

Thanks in advance!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. Forget about seedless watermelons. Hybridizing has not only improved out the seeds , but also the flavour and pleasure.

    Melons require heat and lots of it. I have had good canteloupes from Ruthven (very southern Ontario. Look.You guys can specify the vineyard on top of the second hill and the like when you talk about wine, I can talk about terroir too ).

    My technique for selection is not internationally transferable. I do it on the basis of heft. I choose for my tests melons that have a yellowish bottom as opposed to white- green, There is a small risk that as the season goes on you will get an overripe one.

    For get about weird colours unless you are a chi-.chi caterer .

    Your favourite recipe for pickled watermelon rind would be appreciated.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

      interesting.. I seem to think the problem is that I'm picking over ripe ones alot of time too. The flesh inside is very firm and just isn't flavorful or enjoyable.. I've tried picking ones with a yellow bottom, or a "big patch on the bottom" or so on but it always seems to be a crap shoot

      so there are no Ontario watermelons worth waiting for I suppose? Wish I could find some quality fresh melon

      1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

        I suspect this year will be an excellent vintage.

      2. so I eat watermelon once a day. I usually like to buy a whole melon myself and cut and enjoy, but I sometimes fail at my selection. So I have taken to purchasing my melon from one of three places, Pussaterie, Whole Foods, or in a pinch Fresh and Wild on King. That's all I got, hope it helps.

        1. The Kawartha Ecological Growers: (http://www.kawarthaecologicalgrowers....) Whats in season guide says August and September for Watermelon. They might be early this year though as its gonna be a hot one.

          1. I've had pretty good melons so far this year. I choose based on 2 criteria; weight to size ratio and the shade of yellow on the patch. The better melons will usually be heavier than you expect and the darker the yellow, the riper the melon. I also avoid seedless if I can. I especially avoid yuppie melons in rainbow colours, which are always tasteless, as well as mini melons, which are impossible to gauge.

            1. Thanks for the responses all

              So it seems like my best bet is trying to find the melons with the darker yellow patch on the bottom, and avoid ones that are pale/whitish yellow or white on the bottom

              Although I could have sworn I've tried this approach before, I think they were always with seedless watermelons which have been absolutely brutal lately

              Problem is, most supermarkets around here (the mainstream ones at least) seem to be carrying seedless exclusively!

              4 Replies
              1. re: duckdown

                I bought a seedless watermelon at the Superstore in Peterborough a couple of weeks ago. It was insanely heavy for its size and had the telltale yellowish spot on the underside. It was wonderfully sweet overall, but parts were a bit spongy, nearly dissolving on contact. I'm going to go back to the ones with seeds and see if I fare better, but I wanted to mention this seedless one because it was the sweetest watermelon I've tasted in a couple of years. I recall being startled by the sweetness of fresh watermelon juice in Hong Kong a few years ago. The refuse being tossed after juicing contained tons of black seeds. Maybe that's the ticket. The watermelons I saw in North Africa were enormous and definitely contained seeds. They were dirt cheap and fed (and hydrated) large families well for pennies. As a side note, every single baby/mini watermelon I've bought in the past few years has been both overpriced and lacking completely in flavour, though colour and texture were always impressive.

                1. re: 1sweetpea

                  But 1sweetpea isn't it true for most of the fruits here in North America that they look good but are somewhat tasteless (even the organic ones). The fruit just Tastes awsome in other places where its is unadulterated. I remember trying the Mangoes,Bananas, Water melons and all other sorts of fruits in the Southern Subcontinent and there is not even a comparison for the taste and flavor. The Mangoes here are a joke (I can't even call these mangoes after having the stuff there). The Watermelons I remember having had huge black seeds but they were oozing with juice and intense yet soothing flavor. We can make a case the temperature isn't right for those kind of summer fruits but my opinion is that the fruit here is grown with emphasis on shelf life i.e. looks good and doesn't go bad quick.

                  1. re: elvisahmed

                    Fair enough. I think it's a combination of climate and the depletion of nutrients in the soil that has resulted in our produce lacking taste. I'd guess that the nutritional value of those produce items is weaker than the numbers posted for prime examples of them. However, we have little choice during harvest times for produce but to buy and consume what grows locally and make the best of it. It's no different in other northern countries of the world that have lots of citizens to feed and limited quantities of viable soil.

                    1. re: elvisahmed

                      The three fruits elvisahmed mentions are generally imported here from Central America. Only watermelon can be local, August through October, and it is usually better than the imported melons we get the rest of the year. So far, I don't see a good taste argument against the local products.

                2. "Tapping the watermelons" ain't bulls**t, you just gotta learn to get the right feel for it. As you say, it's to determine ripeness, not the quality of the melon itself. If it's a crappy melon in the first place, it won't matter much that it's perfectly ripe. That being said, I had a pretty good one a couple weeks ago from the H-Mart up in Richmond Hill. And really, who doesn't enjoy tapping the watermelons?

                  1. I've scored consistently good melons from Highland Farms on Hurontario. Elsewhere, it's hit or miss with OK to Good from some NoFrills--at those prices, though, you can afford to take a chance. Loblaws melons are invariably crappy and pricey.

                    For me--all thumping, fondling and scratching aside--it's good weight for a melon's size. This is highly unscientific but is arguably among the more dependable tests. A bit of reverb after firm slap comes in second. Smaller and heavier is often better.

                    Locals won't be showing up till late July at best, especially this year. Again, try Highland Farms for local melons in a month or so but don't get bummed if it's into August. They'll get here.

                    1 Reply