Sweet, juicy watermelon is one of summer’s most beloved treats. But watermelons are large and if you happen to get a less-than-stellar specimen, you’re stuck with a lot of lackluster fruit. Here’s everything you need to know to pick out a beautifully ripe watermelon, plus how to prep, store and enjoy it.
How to shop for watermelon
- Watermelon comes in different sizes, as well as with and without seeds. You can even by a half or a quarter of a watermelon or pre-cut slices or cubes.
- Watermelon should be hard and firm with no soft spots or cracks. Weight is a sign that there’s a lot of water inside and the fruit will be juicy, so look for watermelon that are heavy for their size.
- If you knock on the underside of a ripe watermelon, it should sound hollow; under-ripe and over-ripe melons tend to sound dull.
- A creamy yellow spot on the watermelon’s underside is actually a sign of ripeness. It’s called the field spot and is where the melon was resting on the ground. Darker field spots usually mean the melon spent more time ripening on the vine, while a white or non-existent field spot typically means under-ripe fruit.
How to store watermelon
- Whole watermelons can be kept at room temperature for up to 10 days. Once cut, watermelon should be refrigerated in an airtight container, and will keep for 3-5 days.
How to prepare watermelon
- To cut a watermelon, use a large chef’s knife or a serrated knife to carefully cut off both ends, then cut the fruit in half crosswise. Flip the watermelon halves so they sit flat on the cutting board. Following the curve of the watermelon, use vertical cuts to remove the rind then cut the melon crosswise into slices. Arrange the slices so they sit flat on the cutting board then cut them into sticks or cubes.
Another easy way to enjoy fresh watermelon
Spicy Frozen Watermelon Margaritas
Freeze 4 cups of cubed seedless watermelon for several hours. In a small saucepan, combine ½ cup water, ½ cup sugar and 1 coarsely chopped and seeded jalapeño. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Let sit for at least 1 hour then strain and refrigerate until ready to use. In a blender, combine the watermelon with 4 ounces of the jalapeño simple syrup, 6 ounces tequila and 2 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice. Blend until frothy.