Knowing how to pick a good watermelon isn't a magic trick. Just remember: girls are sweeter, size matters, and your Mama was probably right.
This image recalls one of my fondest memories from their childhood, and the second best watermelon I've ever eaten in my life. It was taken on a sweltering July night in the summer of 1995, in my Uncle Russel's backyard in Maryville, Missouri.
The best watermelon I've ever eaten was on the shores of Spirit Lake in the shadow of Mount St. Helens, a few years before she blew her top. I was thirteen, and I still remember the boy I shared it with.
It seems like everyone has a watermelon memory or two. Likewise, everyone has a trick or idea about how to pick out a good watermelon. Some are based in science, while others are wisdom passed down from our grandmas.
The tips that follow have proven themselves over time to be reliable. However, no matter how many tricks you learn for how to pick a watermelon that is perfectly ripe, there will always be a little mystery and magic involved. That's one of the things that makes a perfect watermelon so special!
Seven Proven Tips
Follow these tips for how to pick a watermelon, and - with a little luck - you'll soon be making your own watermelon memory!
1. Check the "Field Spot."
The yellow spot, known as the field spot, is the place where the watermelon rested on the ground as it was growing. The yellower the spot, the riper the melon. A ripe watermelon will have a creamy yellow or orange-yellow spot. If the field spot is white or very pale yellow, choose another melon.
2. Look for "Webbing."
When you see weblike brown spots on the watermelon, it means that bees touched the pollinating parts of the flower many times. The more pollination, the sweeter the fruit.
3. Avoid bumps & blemishes.
Other than webbing, note any lumps, dents, soft spots, or other irregularities. If the watermelon you're considering is covered with blemishes or bumps, choose another.
4. Girls are sweeter.
Did you know that there are male and female watermelons? Male watermelons are more elongated, usually bigger, and can have a flat, watery flavor. Female watermelons are usually rounder and sweeter.
5. Size matters.
Don't go for the biggest or smallest melon in a group: try to choose an average sized melon that feels heavy for its size. A ripe watermelon will feel heavier than one that is less ripe. (I use this trick for choosing oranges, too.)
6. Check the tail.
If your melon still has its tail, check to be sure it has dried up. If it's still green, it means the watermelon was picked too early. Similarly, the surface of the melon will turn from shiny to dull and the rind will noticeably harden when the melon is ripe.
7. Thump it!
Your Mama knew what she was doing! Go ahead and give it a good knuckle-thump, and then take note of how it sounds. You want to hear a deep, hollow sound. If the sound is dull, the fruit likely isn't quite ripe.
"When one has tasted watermelon, he knows what the angels eat."
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