September 26, 2014

Picking the Perfect Watermelon – What’s Your Method?

Posted by: Doniel Winter

Picking the Perfect Watermelon – What’s Your Method?

I know the best of watermelon season is behind us, local watermelon anyway. During summer I eat one just about every other day, all by myself, so I still want to ask the question: how does everyone else pick the perfect watermelon?

Though I’ve been remarkably successful in choosing a watermelon by my own method – tapping, thumping and bit of voodoo, I’ve always wanted a better answer to this question. Because wouldn’t it be great to experience the anticipation and thrill of cleaving the perfect watermelon 100% of the time instead of my historical average (total guestimate) of 8 out of 10 times? I like to serve my guests watermelon medallions topped with thick slices of nectarines, strawberry, and a blueberry.

Sometime in July I was picking watermelons from a giant box at my local warehouse store when a kind soul, no doubt bemused by the giant watermelon pressed to my ear, intervened and shared the following unsolicited, but greatly appreciated, advice on choosing a watermelon, which she gleaned as a child on her grandfather’s farm, where they grew many things, including watermelons.

Look for these three things.

First: a yellow belly, which suggests an extended period of time that the watermelon lay on its tummy and ripened in the sun. Second: a woody and dry stem, an indicator of a lengthy ripening on the vine before it was picked. Third: take the watermelon to your ear, or your ear to the watermelon, and play it like a drum. If it sounds tight like a snare drum, perfect. If it sounds “thuddy” like a bass or kick drum, not so good, and more than likely already mush on the inside.
The first thing I did when I got home was sharpen my watermelon knife … you do have a watermelon knife, don’t you? If you’re a watermelon fanatic, like I am, and believe you need a dedicated watermelon knife, as I do, google “Lamson and Goodnow watermelon knife.” On a scale of 1 to 10, my watermelon that day was an 8: red and sweet and mostly firm, and perhaps just a day or two past its peak. But delicious nonetheless.
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