How To Pick A Superstar Watermelon

Those weirdo people you see at the grocery store knockin’ on watermelons?  Yeah, I’m one of those.  I’m a proud thumper, and sometimes I get pretty excited when I know I’ve got a BALLER watermelon in my hands.  My goal today is to help you pick superstar watermelons too, because I know how disappointing it is to get home, take your first bite of some sort of produce you buy, only to find out it sucks.  And to make matters worse, you would have 15-20 whopping pounds of watermelon terribleness.  Let’s try to avoid that.  There are several signs that point to a good watermelon, so let’s stroll through them:

1.  Pick a dull looking watermelon.  A shiny appearance indicates an underripe melon. This applies to honeydew melons too.

2.  Find that field spot.  This is a creamy spot on the melon, and it’s where the watermelon was resting on the ground.  The field spot should be a yellowish creamy color, like shown with my watermelon:
The darker the color of the creamy spot, the longer it was on the vine sweetening up.  If it is white (or not even there), put it back, because this indicates an underripe melon.

3. What’s all that knockin’ about?  A dull thud indicates an underripe melon.  You will get a dull thud if the flesh is soft, which you don’t want.  Your knuckles should bounce off the melon, and the surface should be pretty hard.

4.  Pick that bugger up.  Is it heavy for its size?  Note: this applies to pretty much ALL produce.  When I pick up onions for example, I pick the heaviest one for its size.  That means there is lots of water in there.  The watermelon pictured here in my post was a whopping 18 pounds!  It was heavier than the other comparably sized melons around it.

5.  While you’ve got the watermelon in your arms, make sure it’s uniformly shaped.  Irregular bumps indicate it may have gotten inconsistent amounts of sun or water.

There’s your guide to watermelon picking success.  Now get out to those grocery stores and don’t let that big truckload of watermelons intimidate you!

Click here to print this watermelon post to take to the store with you.

Oh, and while you’re here, here’s how I cut mine up, so it’s in delicious little chunks that are easy to eat out of a bowl in the fridge:

Cut the top and bottom off so it can lay flat on a cutting board.

Run a sharp knife down the sides, taking the rind off.

Cut it into the desired number of disks, then cut it up into chunks.

Then play watermelon jenga!

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13 Responses to How To Pick A Superstar Watermelon

  1. norma says:

    I really appreciate this tutorial. One day I walked in to my favorite mart and I heard a lot of thumping…yep, they were having a watermelon sale and I really thought I was at a pow wow….now I can join the crowd thanks to you…

  2. Amy White says:

    When I knock on a watermelon, I listen for a really nice hollow sound, like knocking on a wooden door. Works every time. I always compare several melons and pick the most resonant one. I never thought about the dull appearance of the skin, but I’ll look for that now too.

    What I really need is a tutorial on picking a canteloupe! When they’re good, they’re so great, but when they’re bad… do you ever notice they sometimes have a slight fishy taste? In general, though, I just seem to end up with underripe canteloupe or honeydew.

    • Joanne says:

      Amy, I know what you mean about the canteloupe! I have had a few bad canteloupes myself, and it is very disappointing. I think I know what you mean about the slight fishy taste…when a melon goes slightly bad, it has a really gross rotten taste and aroma to it. The only canteloupe tips I know are covered by Mary Helen in a comment below…make sure it smells fragrant and push on that belly button to see if it gives slightly.

  3. seedotkay says:

    My dad uses the knocking method! And always ends up picking the best watermelon! =]

  4. betsy says:

    Thanks for the chopping tutorial! I’m about to slice up my probably less than stellar mellon to freeze for slushies and teething treats for the baby. Your method seems much less complicated than my usual slicing in half and hoping for the best routine.

    • Joanne says:

      This method of chopping is much quicker and is the easiest way to deal with watermelon. What I used to do is cut it into slices, then sort of slide the knife under the rind…but it was so time consuming because I would have to do every single piece individually! This way takes only a couple minutes to slice up the entire watermelon.

  5. Mary Helen says:

    Thanks for the Watermelon picking tips! I am looking forward to trying these out. As for canteloupes, I do believe you can pick a good one by pressing on its “belly button”, the spot that was attached to the stem/vine. It should be a little soft and bouncy, and if you put your nose up against it you should be able to smell the sweet, tasty insides. I think the field spot and weight vs. size ratio is important with cantaloupes as well. Good hunting, everybody!

    • Joanne says:

      Mary Helen, those are great canteloupe tips, thanks for sharing them. Those are the only two tips I have heard of. I haven’t noticed the field spots on canteloupes but will start taking a look!

  6. Sharon Pfaff-Campbell says:

    Watermelon Jenga – new summer sport! Can’t wait to try out what I have learned! Love your site!

  7. Dusty Lee says:

    If there is bumps on yor watermelon and it is cause by the drought that we had inmissouri for the last two months will it affect flavor?

    • Joanne says:

      Hi Dusty, Yes, irregularities in smoothness or shape are an indicator of uneven watering, which it sounds like it did experience exactly that because of the drought. Did you grow your own or something? Who knows, maybe it will still taste good, you never know!

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