There isn't much better than a sweet, juicy, perfectly ripe watermelon. However, all watermelons aren't created equal.
I've been disappointed with many watermelons that I've brought home from the supermarket or produce stand. After bringing home one too many disappointing watermelons, I decided to learn how to pick a good watermelon once and for all.
When choosing a watermelon, there are a number of characteristics that indicate how good the fruit is likely to be.
Characteristics of Good Watermelons
The first thing you need to check is the shape of the melon. A good watermelon has a symmetrical shape. It doesn't matter if the fruit is round or oval in shape, as long as it is symmetrical.
It is also a good idea to press the skin of the watermelon in many different spots to test for firmness. Good watermelons will not have soft spots.
While looking at the exterior color of a melon isn't sufficient to determine if a melon will be good, dark green melons tend to be sweeter than those that are lighter in color.
When you pick up the melon, pay attention to how heavy it is. Watermelons are more than 90 percent water, so the most juicy melons are going to be the ones that seem very heavy for their size.
How to Check For Ripeness
There are several different ways to tell if a watermelon is ripe.
- Look on the bottom of the melon. You will find a discolored spot where the melon was in contact with the ground while it was growing. If this spot is light green, the melon is not yet ripe. If the spot is a yellowish-white color, the melon is probably ripe.
- You can also test for ripeness by scratching the surface of a watermelon with your fingernail. A greenish-white color beneath the outermost layer of the rind indicates a ripe watermelon.
- You can also tell if a watermelon is ripe by thumping it, if you know what you are listening for. When you thump the side of a ripe watermelon, it will sound as if the fruit is hollow. If you hear a thud or a tone that is high in pitch, you're dealing with a fruit that isn't ripe.
Interesting Fact About Watermelons: Don't buy a watermelon that you know isn't yet ripe thinking it will be ripe by the time you eat it. Watermelons do not continue to ripen once they have been picked.
Flyin2orion on September 15, 2012:
Thumping method and color has never really worked for me. Its too subjective what to "hear". I tried the straw method and found it inconclusive. (also got the straw to move when I placed it on a volleyball). Here's what does work:
Look for a melon with a creamy yellow spot on the underside. Make sure there are no real soft spots to the melon. Next look for bug bite or chewing marks. Yes that's right. I learned this from the Produce Manager at Ralph's (Kroger) this summer and this is a great tip. Insects can sense ripeness and sweetness and chew into the rind even though they can't get in. These marks look different than scratches, ask a manager to help you in produce.
After doing this, my success rate picking melons went from 50 percent to nearly 100 percent.
One other tip which is even better but less common--if you see a melon with tiny black beads coming out of certain spots in the rind, BUY IT. These are sugar crystals forming as the ripe melon leaks a little sugar. Looks like burnt sugar in a pan (blackish) in tiny little beads.
Before I knew about this, I saw this and thought the melon had something wrong with it and passed, proceeding to choose another ending up with a bad one.
Now I only look for the black crystals first, then I use the bug chew marks above. The black crystals are less common in a batch, but in a large batch of melons you may find one or two. This method for me has been absolutely foolproof. I'd disregard advice about having a perfectly symmetrical melon, or one free of scratches, this has made no difference to me and some of the best melons weren't completely symmetric and some did have scratches and rind blemishes.
Go with the chew marks and sugar crystals and you'll pick a winner.
melon baller on July 22, 2011:
A non-ripe watermelon is like an ostrich egg, it should be able to support your weight when you stand on it. So take the watermelon, place it on the floor and stand on it. If it supports your weight, it's not ripe yet so put it back. If cracks in half underneath your significant poundage, then it's ready to eat. Your welcome.
iblobar on July 19, 2011:
we live outside of dallas,tx...and every watermelon we've picked these past 2-3 months have been sourish,,,not at all sweet. i'm beginning to think melons in my area are all picked too soon... what gives? i shop @ kroger or tom thumb...i feel kind of silly doing the jason thing, but feeling desperate and really want to eat some good melon....any advice?
Hugs on June 21, 2011:
Will dry spagetti noodles work with jasons way ?
Crys on June 20, 2011:
One other way to tell if its ripe: if it has lots of scratches on the outside, its likely an animal (like a racoon) sensed its ripeness, and tried to get into it
Rose Jackson on June 15, 2011:
need to try to take a corn broom straw and lay on top of melon if it spins around most of the time all the way around or half way its a good watermelon....
Broad Xu on May 27, 2011:
I do not agree with the advice in somewhere.
Firstly, to the color,the color and the thickness of peel has an inverse trend.That means if u want to pick a high edible ratio watermelon,u should choose the light color one.
Secondly,about the thumping,if it sounds heavy that means it is too ripe.You should get the one sounds crisp.
By the way, the pick skill is for the mini seedless watermelon only!
kris on May 23, 2011:
So where & how do you take dry straw to a market to check/spin the sweetness of watermelons. Some people may think I am doing a "voodoo" trick or soemthing !!!
LingAbson from Ottawa, Ontario on May 12, 2011:
Thanks for doing the research and sharing this with us! It's a dealbreaker for me when they are not sweet and it's like winning the lottery for me when I pick one that is just perfect. I'll be using these hints to pick the next one. Thanks! :)
HERBCYCLOPEDIA on February 22, 2011:
Did you heard about the benefits of watermelon for the circulatory system?
Angelife on July 09, 2010:
This article can be found in several places on the web. Just sayin'
John_at_Luling on July 04, 2010:
I'll have to try the Straw method. I Bought $40.00 worth of UNRIPE Watermelons in Luling, TX at the market by the tracks. DON'T Buy there! The Rind was 2" thick inside was light pink. They told me it was real Sweet! Yeah the money I put out was "Real Sweet"!!!
theindianblues from Some where on the Globe on June 30, 2010:
Nice information, voted up and marked as useful. Thanks for sharing such a good topic
Floyd on June 24, 2010:
I can't believe you never mention the bee stings, I have found this to be the only true test as to how sweet a watermelon really is.
Mimilora on June 23, 2010:
It's all in the "thump". It's a medium hollow sound. If it's too deep sounding it's too ripe. and to answer your question=it's NOT ripe if it's light pink or white! ICK
Jordan on June 21, 2010:
what does it mean when a watermelon is light pink to white all insife and a bit squshie . is it not ripe or gone bad. [ not tasty]. also really heavy like led. how do u avoid this?
please reply asap
John Wilson on May 29, 2010:
I tried the "straw" method, and astoundingly, it seemed to work, even when I insured that the air was seemingly calm! Perhaps the moisture content of the watermelon creates an electrostatic charge that affects the lightweight straw, like a compass of sorts. Can fruit sugar affect electrostatic charge? I'm hypothesizing...
koolfred on April 14, 2010:
There were watermelon seeds found with the Boy King Tutankhaman....
I think there is a serious historical connection between watermelon and blacks..
and it is the best summer fruit ever!!
fruitlover29 on April 12, 2010:
For me the stripes on melon should be yellowish and they should be almost of same size. This has worked for me all the time - including this time -ripened and sweet. If I should buy anything unequal I am sure it wouldn't be as good as it could get. I will try Jason's method next time
Rocky on December 29, 2009:
Watermelon is nice fruit, after picking good watermelon we can try for >> Watermelon Carvings
majicman on August 22, 2009:
I take two that look and feel the same to an obscure part of the store and slice one open. This works but I'm running out of stores to shop in.
mike on August 16, 2009:
lol i love watermelon who doesn't? its my fav fruit ive had like 3 crappy ones but usually i pick pretty good ones but sometimes i get THE BEST where its juicy and nice and sweet,i actually have one i bought for 5 bucks in the fridge going to eat it very soon,i dont really get jasons trick when i pick i usually go for the lighter ones not to light not to dark just medium in brightness and darkness and also i look for one that have the yellow patch i keep getting the yellow patched ones and they are good
Waild on July 27, 2009:
Wow I followed the advice given by Jason and it worked!
If it wasn't for you I would never have tasted such a tasty watermelon!!!
Amy on June 28, 2009:
I followed the above advice and have to say the best watermelon I have had in a while!!
Jason on June 28, 2009:
Take a long straight piece of straw/dry grass and lay it cross-way on the melon. If it is ripe, the straw/grass will spin and align itself longwise on the melon (or keep spinning). I thought this method was bunk until I tried it but it has never failed!
plutoscript on June 05, 2009:
Watermelon has been my favourite fruit. We have it a lot in Africa. Thanks. But how do you identify a riped watermelon? http://www.plutoscript.com
starqn on June 03, 2009:
Also if you can, try and shake it - if you hear sloshing, it's too ripe and on its way to rotting.
prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on May 24, 2009:
watermelon is a fruit that contains a lot of water. if we can choose good watermelon, we will get a fresh watermelon and sweet watermelon.nice hub.