One of the most refreshing foods to eat on a hot summer day is a juicy, refreshing watermelon. The very best watermelons are ripe, sweet and dripping with delicious juice. However, a substandard watermelon can be tasteless and unpleasant to eat. Because it is such a large fruit, this can result in a lot of waste if it has to be thrown out. Luckily, it's easy to pick the perfect watermelon at the store or market with only a little know-how.
The 'field spot' of a watermelon is the area of the fruit that was resting on the field floor. It should be yellow in color. The more vibrant the yellow, the longer it spent becoming ripe, sweet and juicy. Although watermelons without a field spot may look attractive, they should be avoided. The absence of a field spot indicates that the watermelon is likely to be under-ripe and lacking in flavor.
Although shiny watermelons look appetizing, they aren't the best ones to pick. A shiny skin indicates that the fruit inside isn't ripe. Instead, look for a watermelon with a dull, matte appearance. This shows that the melon is juicy and ready to eat. This trick can be applied to other melon varieties as well.
A perfectly juicy watermelon should feel heavy in comparison to its size. This indicates that it has a high water content, making it luscious to eat. Ideally, a watermelon should be 92% water. Try comparing the weight of different melons of the same size. Pick the heaviest one to take home, as this will be the ripest.
Never pick a watermelon with large scratches or cuts in the skin. However, small scratches in the skin are a good sign that the watermelon is sweet, ripe and ready to eat. These scratches are made when insects, such as bees, attempt to get into the melon to eat it. Insects are good judges of the sweetness of watermelons, so consider these small scratches as a seal of approval.
The perfect watermelon should have a regular, oval shape. If the melon has bumps or an uneven shape, this might mean that it receives uneven amounts of hydration or sunlight in the field. Unevenly shaped melons may have areas of dry flesh inside, or the quality of the fruit may not be consistent throughout.
Knocking a watermelon with your knuckles can indicate whether it is ripe or not. The skin should feel bouncy when it is tapped. If it makes a hollow sound, this indicates that the melon is ripe and juicy. Listen out for any melons that produce a dull, thudding sound when knocked. This is a sign that the melon is over-ripe and won't be good to eat.
Sometimes a whole watermelon is too much. Therefore, purchasing pre-cut slices of watermelon can be a practical option. When choosing pre-cut melon, look for vibrant red flesh with black or brown seeds. Don't choose slices of melon with white areas of flesh or white seeds. The fruit should appear moist and juicy and shouldn't be coming away from the seeds.
Once you've found the perfect watermelon, it's important to store it correctly so that it's ripe when the time comes to eat it. If the melon is slightly under-ripe, it can be stored at room temperature to encourage it to mature further. However, a melon that was picked very under-ripe will never become properly ripe. If the melon is ready to eat, it can be kept in the refrigerator for around a week before serving.
Once it's cut, slices of ripe watermelon can keep in the fridge for around 3-4 days. To keep the fruit fresh, it should be chilled immediately after cutting and not left out at room temperature for any length of time. It's important to cover the melon, ideally in an airtight container, to avoid the flavor becoming tainted.
Watermelon is most often eaten fresh in slices or wedges. However, it's also delicious served in smoothies or fresh fruit salad. A less healthy but extremely delicious way to eat watermelon is to deep fry slices of it in hot oil. This treat is best served with a sprinkling of powdered icing sugar.