Master Gardeners: 3 tips to pick out a sweet watermelon
Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 13, 2021
A good watermelon is a staple, healthy summer snack, so it is important to know how to pick one, regardless if you are at the grocery store or the local farmers market.
When it comes time to pick the perfect melon, people often make their selection based on three characteristics: presence of seeds or lack thereof, size and ripeness.
Determining ripeness requires some knowledge; how can you pick a ripe watermelon?
Sweetness is off the charts this summer. Typically, a producer measures the sweetness of a watermelon by their Brix count, a way to measure sweetness. On this scale, measurements of 10 are standard and measurements of 11 are considered very sweet.
According to Juan Anciso, Ph.D., a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service vegetable specialist in Weslaco and professor with the Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, this year’s Brix count measures watermelon sweetness, especially those from the Rio Grande Valley, off the charts between 11 and 13.
However, just because this year’s crop of watermelons is a higher quality, it does not mean the melon you pick will be the best of the bunch. The following three tips will teach you how to pick the best watermelon.
Tip 1: Find the yellow belly, or the field spot
Other than cutting open a watermelon to see the inside, the field spot is perhaps the best indicator of the ripeness. This spot on a melon shows where it was laying on the ground while attached to the vine.
If the watermelon is ripe, the field spot should be a large, yellow patch on one side of the melon. If it is ripe, the color should be a creamy, almost butter-like yellow. The bigger the yellow belly and the creamier the color means the more time the melon spent ripening on the vine. However, if the spot is smaller or looks more white than yellow, then the melon may not be as ripe.
Tip 2: Tap the underbelly and listen for a deep sound
Another way to find a ripe watermelon is to lightly knock the outside with your knuckles. A ripe melon will have a deeper sound, as opposed to an over-ripe one that will have a more hollow or flat sound. A duller, more hollow sound can mean the flesh is starting to go soft and spoil.
Tip 3: Look for a dull and heavy watermelon
Although it may not be the most photogenic nor the easiest to carry to your car, the best watermelons will be dull in appearance and heavier than the rest. A shiny melon indicates the insides are under ripe.
Also, the best melon of the bunch will most likely be heavier than the rest. On average, a watermelon is 92% water, which makes them so juicy. A heavier melon likely holds more water, which will make it juicier.
Mary-Leigh Meyer can be reached through the Contact tab at https://txmg.org/orange or on the Orange County Texas Master Gardeners Facebook page.