Watermelons are the quintessential summer refresher. And since watermelons are more than 90% water, they are hydrating on a hot summer day. Plus watermelons are full of vitamin C, A, potassium, and lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that gives watermelon its red flesh.
Mysteries abound about how to choose a good watermelon, so here are my tips to make it easy this summer…and a link to a 4th of July Menu Planner with Recipes!
How to Choose a Watermelon
- Shape: choose a firm watermelon with a regular, symmetrical shape, not misshapen or narrow at one end. Choose one free of bruises or scars. Minor scratches are ok.
- Color and the Field or Ground Spot: Overall rind color is not a very good indicator. Look for a creamy yellow to orange “field spot”. This is where the melon sat on the ground as it grew soaking up the sun. Creamy yellow to orange means it grew longer and should be more ripe and sweet. Avoid melons that have no spot or where it’s white or pale green. They are probably not as ripe or sweet and they don’t ripen more after harvesting. The rind should be dull.
- Size: a watermelon should be heavy for its size, meaning it’s juicy. Pick up a few to compare and choose the heaviest one.
- To tap or thump: Not a good way to judge ripeness. Inconsistent results.
Another Option – The Mini or Dulcinea Watermelon
My favorite watermelon is the mini variety marketed under the name Dulcinea. They are super sweet, seedless and are available organic as well. Dulciea’s have a thin rind and are easier to handle because of the small size. Choosing them is easy; they are ready and ripe. No trying to figure it out. The white “seeds” are not really seeds, but pips, and are edible. Dulcineas will last 5-7 days in the refrigerator. One will easily feed 8-10 people. By choosing a Dulcinea, I don’t end up wondering what I’m going to do with a lot of extra watermelon.
How to Cut a Watermelon
Bulky, round, and heavy, watermelons are hard to handle. To cut one safely, you’ll need a big, sharp knife and a cutting board or clean, flat surface.
- Slice a little piece off one end to create a flat surface.
- Stand the melon on the flat surface and cut in half top to bottom.
- Lay the flat side down again and cut the half into quarters lengthwise
- Lastly, slice each quarter into wedges.
How to Store A Watermelon
- Wash watermelon with soap and water as soon as you get it home, then store in the refrigerator. It will last the better part of a week.
- Be sure to refrigerate after cutting.
- Eat as soon as possible for best flavor. If you buy a half, cut watermelon at the market, be sure it was fresh cut as it won’t last as long. Look for a date sticker or ask a produce person when it was cut.
Beyond Watermelon Wedges
- Use a melon baller tool to cut round bite-sized balls of fruit.
- Cut into cubes and add to a green salad with cucumber and feta cheese. It’s a great, refreshing and healthy combination.
- Cut slices with cookie cutters, insert a thin popsicle stick and freeze like popsicles.
- Use large round cookie cutters for a prettier look on platters or to add to salads.
- Add frozen cubes to smoothies
- Puree and drink the juice ( love watermelon juice!)
Other Helpful Links:
Watermelon salad from Cooking Lessons
Strawberry Watermelon Aqua Fresca (fresh water) from SImply Recipes (this is delicious and refreshing)
Watermelon Popsicles, from The Kitchn
Watermelon cocktails (Susan uses vodka, but you could use white rum or leave it out for virgin cocktails), from The Urban Baker
4th of July Menu planner (watermelon for dessert!) with Recipes and Tips
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