Large watermelon and watermelon slice

Picking A Watermelon 

My grandfather was a farmer in southwest Arkansas. His arrival during the summer meant one thing – we were getting watermelon! And not just any watermelon, the best of the crop, big juicy diamondbacks that tasted like sugar and sunshine.

Watermelons (and my grandfather) were two of my favorite things when I was growing up. Since all the watermelons he brought tasted amazing, I thought all watermelons were the same – delicious.

Besides tasting incredible, watermelon has all kinds of natural antioxidants that can help protect from heart disease, diabetes and some types of cancer. I don’t know if my parents knew that watermelon was good for me or not, but they let me eat as much as I wanted – and that was a lot. I could wipe out a melon by myself in just a few days.

My grandfather died when I was 9, and I have spent most of the years since then searching for ways to pick the perfect melon.

The only problem with watermelon, as far as I can see, is that it’s like unwrapping a birthday present. You don’t know what’s inside until you get it open. My grandfather and my dad could thump a melon with their finger and tell by the sound if it was good. For me, it’s not that easy.

Tips for Picking a Watermelon

For the best shot at slicing into the best watermelon, here’s some tips and tricks from other farmers:

  • Look for ones with a good shape. Lumpy or misshapen melons could have had some issues while growing that will leave them not as sweet. Cuts or dents could mean insects or fungus. Yuck!
  • Pick it up. Juicy watermelons should feel heavy and full of water. Watermelons are 91 percent water.
  • Look at the spot on the bottom where the melon rested on the ground while growing. It should be yellow or orangish, not white. One with a white spot could have been picked too soon.
  • Look for weblike brown spots. The more the watermelon has, the more times it was pollinated by bees, which means the sweeter it will be.
  • Check the rind. It shouldn’t be soft, which means that it’s overripe. The melon should be firm and if you scratch it with your fingernail, you shouldn’t be able to cut through it.
  • Look at the piece of vine left on the watermelon. It should be brown and dried, which means it was picked when ripe. A green vine (or tail) could mean it was picked too soon.
  • And then there’s the old reliable thump. A ripe melon should have a deep sound, while an overripe melon will sound flat or hollow.

By Amanda Rogers for Surepoint Medical Centers

Photo by Art Rachen on Unsplash

Amanda Rogers is a freelance writer based in Fort Worth, Texas

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