ASK THE EXPERTS: THE CASE OF THE HAUNTED WATERMELON

October 14th, 2014 by The Watermelon Guy

Halloween is upon us, so I’ve decided to post this bizarre Q&A about a mysterious exploding watermelon. For optimal effect, read it with the lights off and a watermelon lurking in the next room.

ED ASKS: I had a watermelon sitting on the kitchen table when all of a sudden it split and began to squirt its juices as far as seven feet. What would cause this?

picWow. That sounds pretty bizarre, Ed. So bizarre, in fact, that if I found myself in that situation, I’m not sure if I would find it funny or if I would run screaming into the other room.

I’ve heard of watermelons splitting open and spewing juices and/or foam before. I’ve even heard of watermelons “exploding.” For some reason, whenever I read stories about watermelons doing these types of things, I get the same feeling inside that I do when I read stories about encounters with ghosts.

For an answer to your seemingly supernatural question, I turned to an expert in weird watermelon occurrences, Dr. Penny Perkins-Veazie. She’s a plant physiologist and professor who’s pretty much seen it all when it comes to the strange things that fruits and vegetables do.

A breeder once described a scenario in which visitors were so enamored with these cute little watermelons that they loaded up the station wagon, only to have them explode (and I do mean explode!) all over the car.

Watermelon splitting (or exploding) can be caused by the “exploding gene,” which is found in many of the heirloom varieties, or from increased water turgor in the watermelon. Sometimes just placing the fruit on a surface, bumping it, or touching it with a knife will cause an immediate pop on the side.

Of course, the other reason watermelons can split is because of bacterial infections inside the watermelon. Like many fruits, watermelon are susceptible to certain decay organisms and wild yeast. When this happens, it can lead to a fermentation process inside the watermelon. Pressure can build inside, causing the watermelon to split and erupt like a volcano or to foam uncontrollably.

So there you have it, Ed. You’ve either got a watermelon with an “exploding gene” or a bacterial infection. I asked Dr. Penny if ghosts could somehow be responsible for your watermelon’s bizarre behavior, and she stood by her previous answer. I’m not saying your watermelon was haunted, but I feel compelled to offer that as a possible explanation.

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ASK THE EXPERTS: IS IT OKAY TO EAT WATERMELON SEEDS?

August 24th, 2009 by Chef Harry

In this recurring column, our panel of watermelon experts answer a question posed through our “Ask the Experts” feature in the right hand sidebar. Feel free to ask your own question. All questions get a response and some will be featured here on What About Watermelon.

MICHAEL C. FROM SAN DIEGO, CA, ASKS: Is it okay to eat watermelon seeds?

chefharryFor some reason, our mothers liked to tell us that if we ate a watermelon seed, a watermelon would grow in our stomach. I was never sure where that tall tale came from or why parents perpetuated it, but millions of kids grow up in constant fear of watermelon seeds because they don’t want to wake up one morning with a 10-pound fruit germinating in their belly. Of course, this isn’t true.

Other people (i.e. those over the age of seven who are wise to the stories adults tell) fear that watermelon seeds contain some sort of harmful chemicals and should therefore be avoided at all costs. This isn’t true either.

The truth is, watermelons seeds are 100 percent safe for consumption! I actually know some people who like to eat them, including many who roast them with salt like pumpkin seeds. They’re a tasty snack if you give them a chance. Maybe that’s why our parents told us not to eat the seeds. They wanted us to save them so they could roast them and enjoy them after the kids went to bed. Excuse me… I have to call my mother.

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ASK THE EXPERTS: HOW MANY WATERMELONS DO I NEED TO BUY?

August 12th, 2009 by Chef Harry

In this recurring column, our panel of watermelon experts answer a question posed through our “Ask the Experts” feature in the right hand sidebar. Feel free to ask your own question. All questions get a response and some will be featured here on What About Watermelon.

PAT R. FROM WICHITA, KANSAS, ASKS: We are planning for a neighborhood party for about 500 people.  How many average sized watermelons would we need to serve melon wedges?

chefharryWow! 500 people sounds like quite a party. Mind if I come? I’m just kidding (sort of).

Let’s do some math here. We know that the average 20-pound watermelon yields about 53 6-ounce wedges (3/4 of an inch thick). That’s about two-and-a-half wedges per pound. Using that formula, you’ll need roughly 200 pounds of watermelon. In other words, 20 10-pound watermelons or 13-and-a-third 15-pound watermelons.   (I wouldn’t recommend cutting the watermelon in the store to get that extra third of a watermelon. They might frown on that.)

Of course, that’s assuming everyone eats only one slice. Some will eat two or three (or ten) slices. Then again, others might not eat any, but that’s their loss, right? To be safe, go ahead and pick up a few extra watermelons, just in case. After all, like I told David a little while ago, there’s no such thing as “too much watermelon.”

Hope this helps. Let me know how the party turns out, and if you want me to stop by, you know how to reach me!

Enjoy,
Chef Harry

UP NEXT: A seed spittin’ contest!

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