I don't care where you live, when the temperatures rise thoughts of ice cold, juicy watermelon start to work their way into your head. No matter if you grow your own or buy them at your local farmer's market or grocery store, we've all had the unfortunate experience of getting a not-quite-ripe melon. Here are some ways to make sure the one you get next time will live up to your warm weather watermelon fantasies.
1. Knock on it. We've all tried this one, but if you don't know what you're listening for it can prove disastrous. Your melon should sound hollow and it should feel more like knocking on a human head than a human chest.
2. Look at it. Check out the stripes on the melon. If the contrast between the stripes is quite obvious, put it back.
3. Check it's bottom. An unripe melon will have a white bottom while a lusciously ripe one will have a cream or yellow one.
4. Press on it. If it feels and sounds like it gives a little bit, it's probably ripe. Be careful, though. If you press too hard it could ruin the fruit.
5. Check the tendril (if it has one). If the tendril is green it is not ripe. Either wait to pick it or put it back. If it is half-dead, it is either nearly ripe or ripe. If the tendrils are completely dead it is ripe with the possibility of being over-ripe. It could also mean that anthracnose or some other fungus killed the melon, so beware.
6. Count the number of days from flowering or the number of days from planting. If you are growing your own melons this is the most fool-proof way of telling whether or not your melon is ripe. The back of your seed packet will tell you the number of days to wait.
7. Check the size. While not fool-proof, this is also something to think about. If your melon is small, it's probably not ready yet (unless the variety runs small). However bigger is not always better. Just make sure it's "normal melon size".
8. Crack it open. If your growing them and your've got a ton of 'em, why not test your ripe watermelon finding abilities?
9. Is your watermelon vine dying? Chances are, if the plant is dying, the melon ain't gonna get any riper. Pick the darn thing!
Enjoy the summer melons! ;)
Thanks to The Farmer's Almanac for the watermelon picking ideas!