3 Easy Steps For Picking A Ripe Watermelon, According To An Expert

Photographed by Amelia Alpaugh.
July is coming to a close this week, amplifying the feeling that summer is slipping through our fingers. But, there's good news: The sunny season doesn't officially end until September 22, leaving us ample time to celebrate all that it has to offer. And since this Friday, August 3, is National Watermelon Day, we plan on savoring many slices of summer's favorite fruit before.
In order to ensure that we're enjoying only the best watermelon during the limited hot days ahead, we consulted an expert on tips for selecting the ripest melons of the bunch. As it turns out, it seems that some of us (this writer in particular) have been picking our watermelons wrong all along. "I always advise against the thumping, slapping, tapping, knocking methods…please stop beating up our watermelons! We strongly suggest the simplicity of the Look, Lift, Turn," Stephanie Barlow, Senior Director of Communications at the National Watermelon Promotion Board, told Refinery29.
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For any guilty thumpers, slappers, tappers, and knockers out there, follow Barlow's method below to redeem yourself while the weather's still warm — and the melons are still ripe for the picking.
Look
1. "Look at it. A watermelon should be symmetrical and free of any bruises, soft spots, gashes or punctures. Some scratches are normal — while they are still hand picked and packed, they do endure quite a lot of heavy handing."
Lift
2. "Lift it up. At 92% water, a watermelon should be very heavy for its size."
Turn
3. "Turn it over. You want to look at the ground spot, or field spot. This should be buttery yellow. This is where the watermelon sat and the ground and ripened in the sun. If this spot is whitish or green, your watermelon is likely underripe and will taste more like a cucumber than a watermelon. If it’s screaming canary or sunflower yellow, it may well be overripe, which could be mushy or grainy in texture. A soft butter yellow is perfection!"
Additional Selection Tips
1. "Since there are over 1,200 varieties of watermelon grown, the stripes and outside colors are not indicators that work for every shopper. Some watermelon varieties don’t even have stripes!"
2. "Watermelon gets its red color from lycopene, an antioxidant. Lycopene has no flavor, so the pinker the watermelon does not necessarily mean the sweeter."
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