Selecting and eating a watermelon brings back sweet memories of my youth. In the summer, we would get a melon for the family’s Saturday night card game at our house. My great-uncle and aunt would come over for an evening of Pitch (Seems we also called the game Setback.)
In the Paleolithic age—before television—we spent the evening, laughing, story telling, and snacking. My mother would often make a chocolate cake, but the melon was the pièce de résistance. Much time was spent scrutinizing it for sweetness, seediness, and color.
Why Eat More Watermelon?
As an adult, I’ve eaten far too little watermelon. The selection process is always intimidating. Unless they’re halved or quartered, it’s a guessing game. After making up my mind, I have to hoist the bulky melon into the grocery cart, onto the checkout belt, and into car. Then find space in the fridge to chill it.
This summer I’m trying to make up for my under consumption. And for good reason. Watermelons are the perfect Corona-comfy treat, one that’s low in fat and calories and brimming with goodness.
Watermelons are also linked to heart, bone, and eye health and a good source of vitamin A, potassium, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory agents.
After reading about watermelon’s many benefits, I’m inclined to buy them all year round. Sadly, those hothouse melons don’t compare with the sweet, vine-ripened ones of mid-summer.
How to Pick a Ripe One
When it comes to melon selection, some people are “thumpers,” that is, they give the bare knuckle treatment to the melon and assess the sound. It should be hollow rather than dull.
My father was a “plugger”—always insisting that the sellers at Eastern Market in Washington cut a small triangular piece from the melon as a sample.
I’m a “stem and belly checker.” I look to see if the stem end is cratered—an “inny” rather than an “outy” to show it fell off the vine voluntarily.
The Belly Holds the Secret
Look for a yellowish splotch on the belly, that is, the underside of the melon. It’s called a “field spot,” If there’s no spot or it’s white, the melon didn’t spend enough time on the vine.
Other markings on the underside are good, too. Look for “sugar spots” and “pollination points.” Sugar spots are the dark spots, where sugar has oozed from the melon. It indicates sweetness. Black dots in a line are pollination points and the more the merrier.
Don’t be drawn to an over-shiny rind. When it comes to melons, the dull-colored, symmetrical ones are riper.
There you have it. You are now an authority on watermelon. 🙂 Go enjoy!