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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

What the Watermelon?!

Is there anything LESS disappointing then cutting open a watermelon only to find this:

No, there isn’t.  Seriously, Isn’t watermelon supposed to be red?  Light pink just isn’t right.

I haven’t bought a GOOD watermelon in years.  I’m not exaggerating.  Am I just a bad watermelon selector?  Or are watermelons simply the victim of mass-produced produce?

Alton Brown once said on Good Eats that you should pick watermelons with a bigger yellow spot on the bottom. The yellow spot supposedly indicates that the watermelon was in the field longer before being picked, therefore more ripe.  No luck folks, the trick does NOT work. Which was disappointing to discover, normally Alton is right on.  And I really wanted him to be right this time.

Is finding a good watermelon just a crap shoot?  Does anyone feel as sad about this situation as I do..or am I just nuts?  Wait, don’t answer that.


  1. 1

    I am sad for you! Watermelon is my favorite. Ate it for dinner last night and will be my lunch today. When it is hot that is all I feel like. I hate getting a big melon home and being let down. Utah has great melons in the summer. I love Green River melons! I can’t wait for the farmer’s market. I hope you find a good one soon!

  2. 2

    I think we live in the same area (I’m in P.A.)–I got a delicious watermelon from Costco about a week ago. But I’m afraid it was pure luck!

  3. I know just how that watermelon tastes. Like every pink, grainy and terribly disappointing watermelon I’ve selected during the past decade. I’m wholly with you on this one — hopefully someone will write in with brilliant advice!

  4. 4
    Kim M

    I’ve also had the best luck with the little ones that come in a two pack from Costco. I think they tend to be sweeter in general, and I love that they aren’t huge so I’m not stuck with an entire fridge full of watermelon for a week straight as we make our way through it (as much as my kids LOVE watermelon, bad or good, it still takes us a long time to eat the big ones.)

  5. 5

    -heavier the better.

    -look for the “bee sting”. it is a black looking tiny stump on the part of the watermelon that was connected to the vine. if the melon doesn’t have one it is usually not sweet.

    -knock on it. It should sound full not flat–almost resonate a little. Does that make sense? Ah…it is a little trick my Grandpa and Dad do…and they always pick the sweetest Watermelons!

    -farmers markets usually have the best, sweet, red, juicy melons.

    This is all “advice” that friends and family have told me and so far so good. I think we have only gotten 1-2 duds in the past 3 years.

    Good luck!

  6. 6

    I am with Isa. I always look for the black circle on the bottom part where the stem was. I have heard this is the way to tell if it is ripe. When I do this, I always come out with a good one. I just bought one this week and it was DELICIOUS! Good luck!

  7. 7

    This will sound crazy, but it has yet to fail me in over ten years of doing it… When I’m going to get a watermelon, I go to the cleaning aisle first. I find a straw broom and break off ONE piece of straw at least 6 – 8 inches long. Take that over to the watermelons with you. Lay it across the watermelon on a semi-flat spot so it is perpendicular to the length. If the piece of straw turns to be parallel with the length of the watermelon, it will taste INCREDIBLE! There is something about the water in the watermelon that makes it turn. It’s NEVER FAILED ME. My dad has been using this process for years. Give it a try, just don’t mind all the crazy looks you get from people watching. Good luck.

  8. 8

    I have really good luck by looking for the ugliest watermelon with as many bee stings as I can find. I’ve been told that the more bee stings the better. Anyhow, good luck!

  9. 9

    I love Carrie’s method. I once found a lost stop valve in 5 feet of earth using two welding rods as divining tools. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought to use the same principle to find a ripe watermelon! Way cool!

  10. 10

    If all else fails most stores will cut open the watermelon for you. That way if it is a bad one you don’t have to buy it. I didn’t know this untill like you I went thru a very long run of bad melons. My mom told me that she has done this for a long time and every store she has asked them to do it in they have happily cut it for her.

  11. We LOVE watermelon around our house and we, too, have not had a really good one in years. I just bought a seedless watermelon the other day and it was pink, dry and not at all tasty. Is it just the seedless variety? I might give another one a try – seeded this time! No idea how to pick a good one…

  12. 12

    I smack them and buy the one with the deepest sound. Sometimes I get one that is over ripe but it’s worth it to get the most ripe and not the anemic light pink. For those with a trained ear I’ve heard you should go for the one that is a B flat…

  13. 13

    All the old ways I used to use don’t work very often anymore…. I used to look for bee stings, as that was supposed to indicate a watermelon so flavorful that even the bees could not resist. But I have to admit that 95% of the time these days I sigh in disappointment when cutting a watermelon no matter which method I have used. I haven’t had one like I used to eat in the good ole days (when you had to spit out the seeds) in many years. Of course it could also be a case of my faulty memory – you know things ALWAYS seem like they were better in the olden days…..

    I am going to give the divining rod method a try – as long as I don’t get kicked out of the store for ‘witchery’!

  14. 14

    My son has a theory and I think he is right. Only watermelons with seeds in them still have a good flavor and are red. Your next best bet is the mini “personal size” watermelons sometimes called bambinos.

  15. 15
    Jane Maynard

    loving all your comments! especially the divining rod with the straw from a broom – awesome! 🙂 I need to take copious notes and bring them along to the store…something has got to work here!

  16. This is a great topic. I’ll have to keep all of these tips in mind next time I go “watermelon hunting.” I never quite know what to look for. Sometimes we end up with sweet, juicy, perfect watermelons…other times, we end up with ones that lack sweetness or – worse – that are mushy!

  17. 17

    Those comments are too funny! I’m with you on grocery store watermellons. I have had better luck from farmer’s markets.

  18. 18

    I guess I am a watermelon rookie. That one looks tasty to me! But maybe I should set my standards higher. 🙂

  19. 19

    I find the best way is to hold the watermelon above your head. After 5 seconds, let it go. As it hits the ground, if it’s good, red stuff will come out. If it’s not good, pink stuff will come out. Works every time.

  20. 20

    That is hilarious boz…

    We always use the “thud” sound. The ones that make the best thud sound when you thump on it with your thumb are likely to have those fractures on the inside that make the melon practically split open when you put a knife in it. Those are always the best.

  21. 21

    I eat watermellon all of the time. Yes it is a crap shoot. I usually get a good one though. And trust me, when I don’t, I return it. Never pay for a bad watermellon. Well, here is my way after reading and reading forever at what everyone looks for. I have found First, heavy. Second, big yellow spot. Third, (Not a dark green. They are not ripe.) Fourth, If you can find one with a slight softness at the stem where it was picked, that is usually a good sign. Oh, you can slap it but I haven’t found that that makes any difference unless none of the above are present. Then you’re sur to get a bad one. But I have yet to find a really red one anymore. Although I have only found pink, I am usually surprised at how sweet it is when it isn’t even red. Good luck.

  22. 22

    When I was a teenager, I worked on my uncle’s farm. I had to work several summer weekends picking heavy watermelons up off the ground and tossing them up to another teen in the back of a wagon being pulled by a tractor. The one adult in charge chose which watermelons were ripe and would cut them from their vine. His technique was first thing in the morning, when we arrived to the field, the adult would make a fist and punch through the first big watermelon he saw, then he would pull its heart out and eat. If he liked what he tasted, then he would choose all the similar looking watermelons.

  23. 23
    Jane Maynard

    I love that story!

    I wonder if the supermarket would mind if I employ a similar technique?

    thanks for sharing!

  24. 24

    We look for ones where the stem is dried out and the opposite end is indented. It works 90 percent of the time.

  25. 25

    I hate the new fangled watermelon too. The seeds did not need to be removed! We were happy with the juicy crumbly RED black-seeded watermelon. Then some creep decided they didn’t like seeds in their watermelon and invented this sickly pink white-seeded crap. Boooo. Time to bring REAL watermelon back.

  26. 26
    Jane Maynard

    right on, kait!

  27. 27

    The funny thing is, even though it says seedless, they still have those little beige seeds still in the melon!! Honestly, coming from England (where watermelon doesn’t grow naturally) I’ve had 1 in the last say 6 watermelons that was good. Its terrible! They are mainly over ripe and then when I leave them, by the time I go back they are very mushy and too sickly to eat. Nothings beats a freezing cold watermelon though!! 🙂

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