Nothing is more disappointing than biting into a watermelon that is under-ripe, over-ripe, watery, and tasteless. Luckily, there are some visual and audible indicators you can use at the grocery store to ensure you always leave with the sweetest and most flavorful melon.
When comparing two watermelons of the same size, the heavier one is the riper and juicer one. An unripe watermelon will feel lighter and less sturdy. So, whether it’s a small or large watermelon, it should feel heavy for its size.
When a watermelon is ripe, you'll see a large creamy yellow coloration on its underside. This area is called the ground or field spot because it's the part of the melon that touches the ground and isn’t exposed to sunlight. A yellow ground spot means it’s juicy and ripe. If you don’t see any ground spot or if the melon has a white color, that means it was harvested too soon and didn't have a chance to fully ripen.
You want a watermelon that is round and evenly shaped, as opposed to one that is oval or elongated. The rounder melons are sweeter, while the more oval-shaped are watery and less flavorful.
Tap or gently knock on the underbelly of the watermelon. A ripe one will have a deep hollow sound. Under-ripe or over-ripe melons will sound dull. Also, avoid a watermelon if the rind feels soft when you pick it up.
If the melon still has a bit of its stem showing at the end, make sure it’s brown and dry. If you see a hard, green stem, that means the melon was harvested too soon and didn’t have time to ripen.
Always opt for watermelons with seeds instead of the seedless variety. To make seedless watermelons, the number of chromosomes in traditional melons is doubled by adding colchicine, a mutagenic chemical that’s also used as a drug. This process creates a plant with four sets of chromosomes. It’s then pollinated, and out comes a seedless watermelon.
Traditional watermelons with black seeds are generally sweeter, have a better texture, and are more nutritious than the seedless variety. Plus if you have kids, it’s so much more fun squeezing the seeds and watching them fly across the room.. . Okay, forget being just fun for kids. I still enjoy doing that when I eat watermelons. My mom told me when I was a kid to be careful because I could knock someone’s eye out. Forty years later, I’m still trying to prove her right.
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