In many ways, a watermelon is a lot like a Christmas gift: You’re pretty sure you’re going to like what’s inside, but you’re never really sure until you open it. Unlike a Christmas gift, however, with a watermelon, you’ll like what’s inside 100 percent of the time. (I’m about 75 percent with Christmas gifts.)
Since you can’t stealthily peel back the wrapping of a watermelon in the grocery store to sneak a peek at what’s inside, you’ll have to employ some different techniques to determine its “ripeness.” Personally, I use the following three-step process to find the right watermelon and I have to admit, it hasn’t failed me yet!
1. LOOK – Your watermelon should be firm, symmetrical and free of major bruises or scars. Some minor scratches are okay, however. After all, the purpose of that thick rind is to protect the delicious contents inside. Ripe watermelons should also be dark green in color.
2. LIFT – The ripest watermelons have the most water. And since watermelons are 92 percent water, your watermelon should be relatively heavy for its size.
3. TURN – Turn your watermelon over and check out its bottom, which should have a creamy yellow spot (also called “the ground spot”). This is where the watermelon sat on the ground while it soaked up the sun at the farm. If this spot is white or greenish, your watermelon may have been picked too soon and might not be as ripe as it should be.
Now I know what a lot of you are thinking: “What about the sound test? You know, knocking, tapping, drumming or thumping on the watermelon to test its ripeness?”
Here’s my stance on using your watermelon as a bongo drum in the produce aisle: While it’s true that the “sound test” can give you some insight on a watermelon’s ripeness, I don’t endorse or use the test because it’s too subjective and there’s no definitive agreement on which result the test is supposed to yield.
Some say a ripe watermelon will produce a hollow sound, while a “thick” or “solid” sound indicates a watermelon that’s not ripe or too ripe. Others say a hollow or “tight” sound is bad, and your watermelon should instead sound “firm.” Still others say a ripe watermelon should produce a B-flat sound. (What?!)
In other words, you can tap-tap-tap all you want, but if you perform the three-part test we talked about earlier, you should have no problem finding a great watermelon. As always, if anyone has any other tips or can clarify the sound test (please!), feel free to leave a comment!