How to pick a watermelon

Keep these tricks and tips in mind during your next trip to the market

Published July 18, 2020 5:17PM (EDT)

 (Bobbi Lin/Food52)
(Bobbi Lin/Food52)

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fridge (or cooler) or blending up chunks for a refreshing slushy cocktail, watermelon is a summer classic.

Picking out just-the-right watermelon can be tricky since there aren't many external signifiers, and you can't just give it a squeeze to see if it's softened, like you would with other fruits. There are, however, a few things you can look out for, and do, to ensure you've got a melon that's ready to eat.

Here's how to pick out a watermelon, plus a few ideas for what to do with it at home this summer (oh hi, watermelon Campari granita).

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How to pick a watermelon

1. First things first: Pick it up. Even though watermelons vary in size, it should feel heavy whether it's large or small.

2. You've probably heard that you can give watermelon a tap or a knock and, if the melon sounds hollow, then you've got a winner. This isn't a foolproof method because it's pretty unreliable and more or less subjective. "While plenty of people swear by a quick knuckle-rap on a melon's surface," writes Nozlee Samadzadeh in our guide to all sorts of melons, "the best way to tell is by turning the melon over."

"If the yellow-brown patch where the melon lay on the soil is pronounced, large, and dirty, it's a good sign that it has been growing for a while," she explains. You'll want to steer clear of watermelons with a patch (also known as a field or ground spot) that's white or non-existent.

3. Another handy tip for picking watermelon: The prettiest watermelon probably isn't the sweetest. According to Maki Yazawa for Real Simple, the more matte or dull-looking the watermelon, the better. "If the melon is very shiny, it is likely underripe," she says.

4. Spots can also be a good sign. "Dry weathering spots and vein-like webbing lines are great indicators of an extra sweet watermelon," she explains. "These spots show where sugar has been seeping out of the fruit" and onto the rind.

By Erin Alexander

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