In Season: How to pick the best watermelon

When it’s really hot and humid, it’s hard to find a better thirst-quencher than watermelon. 90% water, super sweet and utterly delicious, watermelon is as cheap as chips between December and March – but do you know much about these juicy cannonballs of deliciousness?

I’m one of those people you’ll see slapping the watermelon, and holding it to my ear. I’m not insane; I’m just checking I’m buying the best one in the pack.

Want to learn? Follow these tips to pick up the best watermelon from the bunch!

  1. Whatever its size, your watermelon should feel heavy – this tells you it’s full of water and ripe. Basically, the heavier it is, the riper it is.
  2. Your melon should be fairly even in size; lumps, bumps and bruises are usually a sign of irregular water and/or light, which will make the melon dry.
  3. All watermelons have a discoloured spot – the ‘field spot’ – where it’s been lying on the ground. Look for the spot that’s gone a little yellow to find the ripest watermelon. If your watermelon doesn’t have a field spot, it’s almost certainly been picked too early.
  4. Give it a slap! Tapping the underside of your watermelon will tell you a lot. If it’s ripe, it will sound deep and hollow; if you get something that sounds like a dull thud, pick another one.

How to store your watermelon

Watermelons rarely ripen much after they’ve been taken off the vine. If you have an underripe one, leave it out at room temperature for a couple of days – but don’t expect too much.

Never store watermelon below 4°C – kept in the fridge it’ll be perfectly happy once cut for a day or two.

I’ve put together a few facts about watermelon that may surprise you – and I’ve included a few tricks on how to pick out the best one too!

  • The watermelon is both a fruit and a vegetable: it’s a fruit because it grows from seed, but a vegetable because it’s grown on the vine, as is from the same family as the cucumber and pumpkin.
  • The average watermelon is around 92% water and 6% sugar.
  • Contrary to popular belief, the rind of a watermelon is edible, and actually contains a whole load more nutrients. Try them pickled, as a jam or chutney, in a smoothie or in a salad – you’ll be surprised at how tasty they are!
  • The heaviest watermelon ever, according to the Guinness Book of Records, was 129kg.

And, of course, a quick watermelon recipe:

Watermelon Cooler

Ready in 5 minutes. Serves 1

 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup watermelon, deseeded, plus an extra slice for serving
  • 1 cup lemonade
  • 2 mint leaves, plus an extra sprig for serving

Method

Blend watermelon, lemonade and mint leaves in a blender. Serve over crushed ice, garnished with a watermelon wedge on the side and a sprig of mint.