There’s nothing better than a refreshing, sweet slice of watermelon when the mercury rises in the summer months. However, not all watermelons are made equal, and depending on the size, shape and ripeness of each fruit the flavour varies wildly. Here’s the definitive guide on how to choose a nice ripe watermelon.
First step is to look for well-defined stripes on the outside of the fruit. If your watermelon is a block of green, don’t pick it. The colour should be a rich green and not faded. The yellow should have a golden hue. The watermelon should have a spot on its underside, the area that contacted the ground while it grew. This spot should be a pale, creamy yellow.
Look for a stem that’s a yellow-brown colour. If the stem is green, it means it was picked too early. The yellow-brown colour indicates the fruit was allowed to mature on the vine and therefore absorb all the nutrients making it taste sweeter.
Knock on the watermelon. You should hear a deep, hollow sound like a drum. If not, it means the rind is too thick. Dry spots and dimples on the outside of the watermelon are a good sign as it means the fruit was exposed to lots of sun and will be sweet.
The watermelon should have some give in it when you squeeze it, and you should look for a round watermelon. The elongated, oval fruit are usually male and not as sweet. Finally, buy a watermelon in the summer, meaning it’s in season and local, and not shipped halfway around the world.
To sum up:
- Elongated watermelons tend to be watery while large, round watermelons are sweet.
- If they have a white spot on the skin, there won’t be much flavour, but an orange spot makes them tasty.
- Green stem watermelons aren’t quite ripe yet. Look out for a dry stem instead.
- Smaller webbing on the skin means a bland watermelon but lots of webbing points to sweet goodness.
Once you’ve chosen your watermelon, don’t be tempted to just slice and eat it, there are endless ways to use this sweet fruit in the kitchen. Watermelon and daikon salad makes a tangy and refreshing salad or side dish. Blitz watermelon in your blender with fig and peach for a perfect vitamin-packed summer smoothie. For something more elegant, combine puff pastry sheets with other varieties of melon and cream for a crunchy melon and watermelon millefeuille.