There are many ways that have been touted as being best for determining if a watermelon is perfectly ripe. Growing up, I was taught to “thump” the melon and listen for a hollow sound. I have been reprimanded by produce managers as I practice this technique. Watermelons are not fragrant before cutting and do not ripen further once picked, so knowing how to pick a perfect melon can be tricky.
Tips for Picking Your Prized Melon
- Firm, free from bruises, cuts or dents.
- Rind should not be very shiny or very dull; melon should be heavy for its size.
- Bottom should be pale or buttery yellow in color, not greenish-white.
- Stem (if still attached) should be dry and brown; if green, melon was picked too soon.
Storage and Food Safety
- Wash whole melon in soapy water and rinse thoroughly before slicing to remove harmful bacteria that may be on rind.
- Whole melons can be stored at room temperature for 7 to 10 days.
- Cut melons can be stored in refrigerator up to 4 days; it should be covered in plastic wrap or stored in a plastic container.
- Great source of fluid since they contain 92 percent water.
- Contain 25% Daily Value for vitamin C; important for immune function and antioxidant properties.
- Contain 30% Daily Value for vitamin A– as beta-carotene; important for eye health and is a potent antioxidant.
- Contains some potassium; important for water balance in the body and proper heart function.
- Best of all, 2 cups of diced watermelon contains only 80 calories without any sodium, fat or cholesterol!
Interesting Watermelon Facts
- The first recorded watermelon harvest occurred nearly 5,000 years ago in Egypt.
- More than 1,200 varieties are grown worldwide in 96 countries; U.S. ranks fourth in production.
- By weight, it is the most consumed melon in U.S.
- Watermelons grow from a vine that may spread as much as 6 to 8 feet. Melons are produced on the vine within 60 days and are ready to harvest within 90 days.
- They are grown in 44 states; Florida, Texas, California, Georgia and Arizona lead production.
- Weight of watermelons range from 10 to 45 pounds, depending on variety.
Tempting Watermelon Tips
- Freeze melon juice in ice cube trays to add to lemonades or fruit punch.
- Can be made into a cold soup or drink by pureeing with other fruits such as kiwi and cantaloupe; stir in some plain yogurt for creamy consistency.
- The flesh can be cubed, sliced or scooped into balls.
- Pairs well with salty taste of feta cheese.
- Can be roasted, grilled or even dehydrated!
Here are some unique ways to enjoy watermelon as an appetizer, salad or even frozen dessert. These recipes have become favorites of my family, friends and associates. Enjoy!