I faced this question recently, when my husband of 32 wonderful years sent me a message. He knew that I was picking up the weekly groceries, and made use of his flip phone to send me his “requests”. As I read the last one, I got a sinking feeling. The message was very simple. Watermelon. Yes, he is one of those that actually did eat them from the field, and still has a love for the spongy, juicy fruit-veggie (yes, according to mercola.com it is part fruit and part vegetable). He especially enjoys them in the heat of summer, when a cold chunk of melon serves to cool down even the hottest temperatures. Or so the watermelon enthusiasts claim!
I am not of the faction that eagerly awaits the arrival of watermelon season each year. Quite the contrary. It’s not that I have anything against them, I just don’t like them. I’ve tried, I really have. Usually at some point of the season I try a bite…hoping that maybe this will be THE YEAR! So far, nope. For the record I don’t like watermelon flavored items either. So you can probably see my dilemma. My watermelon lover was depending on me to pick a good melon! The pressure was ON! How could I even begin to know what to look for in the quest for a “good” one? How do I know if it is the right one? The struggle was real. So, I did what any good modern explorer would do….I Googled™ it! Without having a clue as to what I read was right or wrong (Surprise surprise, not everything you read online is actually correct!) I decided to test it. I typed in “Picking a watermelon” and hit the GO button. The first response talked about the weight. It said “no matter the size, a watermelon should feel heavy”. Next was discussion about the “splotch” where the melons lay on the ground. I have always noticed these but didn’t really know they had a purpose. Apparently “the yellow splotch will show wether the melon is ripe or not. If it is more yellow, the melon may not be quite ready. The creamy yellow is what to look for”. Next was the color of the melon. “A perfect, ripe melon should be dark green in color and dull in appearance, not shiny. (A shiny melon will usually be under ripe)”. According to Southwest Purdue Agricultural Center, “the area between the dark green stripes should be light green.” Oh, and that creamy yellow splotch… “you should not be able to see the stripes through that splotch. If you can see them, it might not be ripe”. One expert suggested the stripes needed to be evenly placed as you look at the end of the melon. The old “thump it” method didn’t fare well with the experts. Many referred to it as an old wives tale. I know plenty of people that must be old wives, and they live by that method!
So, with this new knowledge at hand, I set out to find the melon of his dreams! I carefully inspected the bin full of watermelons. (By the way, I was at the United Supermarket located in Graham, Texas. This is a fabulous place to shop, SUPERIOR customer service, and I know that they would have helped me pick a great watermelon but I wanted to test this on my own). There were at least 30 melons in the bin, and I dug my way (yes, I was actually IN the bin) to the bottom where I found my top 2 picks (see photo 1). According to the information, these 2 should have been the sweetest, and most ripe. They were pretty!
I chose the melon on the right. It had deep green stripes, with light green in between. It was pretty uniform, and the splotch was pretty creamy yellow. I took my prize home and proudly explained to my “farm expert” how I meticulously researched and then sought out the perfect watermelon. I’m not sure how proud he was as I told him I climbed into the bin, but love is both blind and forgiving!
We placed the watermelon into our refrigerator and set the temperature on cold. A good (frigid) night’s rest brought the watermelon to a temperature that any 53 year old woman would find refreshing. My farm boy cut the melon, and I eagerly awaited the results. After a few bites, my “expert” stated that my special picked melon was, indeed, the sweetest and best watermelon that he’d had! My test paid off, and this novice can pick a melon!
Just so you’ll know, I took my annual taste test of the melon. Okay, it is still not my favorite taste but this year I ate four bites! That’s what the old timers would call progress.