Picking a perfect watermelon to buy can be a little tricky. It may look fine to the untrained eye, but get it home and it’s tasteless or worse yet–has a rancid bite to it.
Here are a few things to look for to help better your odds of selecting a good one:
- Look for the tell-tale “ripe spot”. It will be on the bottom of the melon and a light yellow or creamy color. This spot develops as the melon grows on the soil. If the spot is greenish or white in color, it’s not ripe yet. Watermelons don’t continue to ripen once they’ve been picked, so this is an important clue to watch for.
- The outside rind is firm and hard, blemish free. It’s also a deep green and dull in color (not a light or bright green). No cuts, no bruises. If you find some soft spots, that’s a sign it’s starting to turn bad.
- Choose one that is symmetrical in shape, a nice oval or round shape. Not unevenly heavy or full on one end and thin on the other.
- You want it good and heavy–over 90% of it is water.
- Once you bring it home, scrub it down well with soap and water (and a healthy splash of vinegar if you like). If you don’t, you’ll be dragging the germs down into the fruit as you cut down with a knife. Here are some Produce Wash Recipes that will work well too.
- Before eating, keep it chilled in the refrigerator for about 12 hours, depending on size.
- Here’s a tip from Martha Stewart for an easy way to cut the rind off a whole melon.
Watermelon is one of those perfect foods–it’s healthy, contains no fat or cholesterol, yet it’s delish and will even pass as dessert (how many foods can accomplish that!).
Next up is a great bunch of goodies! First you’ll find a list of instructions for all kinds of different ways to carve them, then a list of carving tips, then a fun bunch of recipes and ideas for serving them. Lots here, enjoy!
First is a great resource different carving tutorials from watermelon.org, these designs are amazing! You’ll find pictures and instructions for making the following carvings & designs:
- Americana Basket
- Watermelon Keg
- Angry Birds
- 8 Ball Punch Bowl
- Flower Vase
- Beach Party
- Treasure Chest
- Tea Pot
- Salsa Bowl
- Ribbon Basket
- Flowering Garden
- Butterfly Basket
- Beach Bucket
- Baby Carriage
- Birthday Cake
And a bunch more! Also check out the other categories for recipes, garnish ideas and more good stuff. Fun fact from the website:
The first recorded watermelon harvest occurred nearly 5,000 years ago in Egypt.
Here are some of the tips they share for carving:
- Have the melon at room temperature before you start carving since the cuts will be easier to make. Refrigerate after carving is done.
- Make a flat base on the watermelon by cutting a small, thin piece from the bottom (this makes it more stable when carving).
- Use a waterproof marker or sharp pencil to mark the design before cutting.
- A sharp knife with a pointed tip makes cutting easier and cleaner.
- Wear a new pair of gardening gloves with gripper palms when cutting, this gives you a better grip.
- Use round toothpicks or skewers rather than flat toothpicks when attaching cut pieces–they’re more stable.
Recipes & Treats
Fresh Cake: Scoop out the fruit with a melon baller or rounded spoon then use the balls to top wedges of melon arranged as cake slices.
Rounds: Arrange on a tray for serving or…use as a burger topping if you can believe it! Cookie cutters can be used to make other fun shapes.
Alcohol-Free Coolers: Cans of frozen lemonade concentrate (thawed), mint sprigs, ice are blended with cubes of melon.
Jam: Simple recipe that makes about 7 (8-ounce) jars, ingredients include white sugar, lemon juice and powdered pectin.
Salad with Tomatoes: Ingredients include seeded & diced tomatoes, sugar, salt, red wine vinegar, chopped cilantro and more.
Dippers: A fun treat for both young and old, dip is made with sour cream, sugar and vanilla extract.
This is from a well worn, loose page of an old cookbook. Unknown source.
16 cups watermelon pieces
8 cups granulated sugar
4 cups white vinegar
4 cups water
1 cup salt
2 TBS whole cloves
3 cinnamon sticks
2 pieces ginger root
1 lemon, thinly sliced
- Cut watermelon into 1″ pieces (use the firm light pink flesh).
- Dissolve salt thoroughly in 8 cups cold water, pour over melon pieces–add more water if needed to cover. Let stand 6 hours; drain, rinse well and cover with fresh cold water. Cook until just tender; drain.
- Tie spices in a cheesecloth bag and combine with remaining ingredients; simmer 10 minutes.
- Add fruit and simmer until clear; remove spice bag. Add boiling water to syrup if it becomes too thick before the melon pieces are clear.
- Pack, boiling hot, into hot sterilized jars, leaving 1/8-inch head space; seal.
Yield: Makes 6-8 oz jars