How to choose, store & use Watermelons

Watermelons are delicious low-calorie treat with numerous benefits. A fruit from the plant species in the family Cucurbitaceae, develops from a vine-like flowering plant. It has its origins in West Africa.

Everyone loves a juicy watermelon in summertime, don’t we?

Watermelon- The Summer Fruit

Melons are members of the Cucurbitaceae family, which makes them relatives of squashes and cucumbers. Although often grouped together, most sweet melons fall into two broad categories: watermelons (Citrillus lanatus) and muskmelons (Cucumus melo). Melons come in a medley of varieties; watermelon, honeydew, cantaloupe.Don’t be confused by the American custom of referring to cantaloupes as muskmelons: all cantaloupes are muskmelons but not all muskmelons are cantaloupes !

Summer brings in many types of delicious, succulent  melons to the farmers market. Local farmers choose rare and heirloom varieties and let them slowly mature on their vines until perfectly ripe so that their sweet, subtle tastes can be savored as summer slips into fall. These stars of the summer are bursting with juice and flavor when dead ripe and delicate.

There are almost 50 varieties of watermelons, similar in taste but vary in size, flesh color (mostly pink or red but also yellow, white, and orange), seedless or seeded. Red flesh is rich in the antioxidant lycopene–the highest per serving of any fruit or vegetable.

Watermelon can be pickled, candied, fermented, or made into a syrup, and its sprouted seeds are a nutty tasting, protein-rich snack. Delightful in fruit salads or just cut in wedges on their own, melons make wonderful desserts.

Delicious on their own, melons add sweetness to salads, cold soups, drinks, and sorbets. Although melons are refreshing when served chilled, refrigeration diminishes their flavor so serving at room temperature is ideal. Or try grilling them: cooking concentrates their sugars.

How to choose Watermelons:

Hint : When choosing a melon, you’ll use most of your senses: sight, smell, sound, touch, and taste. Seek out symmetrical melons with a “filled-out” look. Weight offers hints about taste: a melon that feels heavy for its size holds lots of juicy flesh. Melons don’t become sweeter after harvesting, but the texture and aroma can continue to improve.

  • First, look at the stem scar. A smooth, hollowed scar indicates that the melon was harvested ripe. If a piece of the stem remains, it may have been harvested too early. 
  • Pick it up: The watermelon should feel heavy for its size, irrespective of whether it is big or small.
  • Look for the webbing : The weblike brown spots on the watermelon, means that the bees touched the pollinating parts of the flower many times.The more pollination, the sweeter the fruit is.
  • Look for the yellow spot: A ripe watermelon has dull, not shiny, skin, and the lighter colored part of the rind, where the melon rested on the ground, should be yellow or creamy, not green or white. A light tap to the rind should produce a hollow sound.Watermelons develop a splotch where they rest on the ground. When this splotch is creamy yellow, it’s ripe.
  • For thinner-skinned melons, exert very gentle pressure on the base of the melon opposite the stem end. If the skin is easy to depress, the melon is ideal for eating. 
  • A musky aroma, produced by enzymes that generate more than 200 different esters, also signals ripeness.
  • Give it a thump: Tap the underbelly of the watermelon. A ripe one will have a deep hollow sound. Under-ripe or over-ripe melons will sound dull.
  • Farmers differentiate watermelons by gender. ‘Boys’ are bigger and have elongated shape and have watery taste, while ‘girls’ have a rounded shape and are very sweet.

How to store Watermelons:

  • Set an uncut watermelon in a dark, cool location for no longer than about four days..
  • Wrap a cut watermelon half tightly with plastic wrap and store in your refrigerator for up to three days.
  • Store cut watermelon pieces in an airtight container in your refrigerator.

How to use a Watermelon :

  • Eat it plain as wedges
  • Grill it
  • Cooler
  • Juice
  • Salsa
  • Salad
  • Sorbet
  • Fruit Bowl /Basket
  • Smoothie
  • Gazpacho
  • Ice-cream
  • Margarita
  • Popsicle
  • Spritz
  • Mojito
  • Puree
  • Granita
  • Lemonade
  • Aqua FrescaYogurt Parfait
  • Kebabs
  • Chilled Soup
  • Enter in a carving contest
Watermelon Recipes

Sharing in the links below, some of my published posts on Watermelons, for your interest.

For more tips on ‘How to Choose, Store & Prepare’ Seasonal Produce, check out the links below to my blog posts about them, then you will never have to wonder if you picked the right veggies for the week’s cooking .

Here goes …….

Now that you know all about Watermelons, how do you have them in summertime? Share in your comments below!

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4 years ago

I had no idea there were 50 types of watermelon! I haven’t even tried it this summer yet – what kind of Texan am I?? 🙂

Maya Shetty
4 years ago
Reply to  Michelle

LOL, Michelle 😀 Now you have all summer to try a few varieties. Enjoy ! Thank you, for your kind words , so appreciate it 🙂

Jennifer Morrison
4 years ago

I love watermelon, as does my whole family! But, I have never really tried it any way other than cut and chilled. I am going to try pickling it this year, because I think we will love it!

Maya Shetty
4 years ago

Thank you, for stopping by & sharing your kind words .Yes, the watermelon season is on, so many different ways to try it in a recipe. Check out my blog fpr more recipes, would love for you to sign up on my blog for regular emails on fun recipes & interesting travel ideas.

4 years ago

Watermelon is my favorite summertime fruit. In fact I just finished eating a bowl of cut up watermelon. I grow my own too! They won’t be ready to eat for quite some time so I buy one or two weekly from the market. They are so good for us!

Maya Shetty
4 years ago
Reply to  Cindy

How fun to grow your own watermelons in the backyard Cindy. Enjoy the different recipes on my blog that you can do using the watermelons you grow.Do sign up for on my blog, for interesting recipes to land right into your inbox regularly. Happy summer !

Annette Durbin
4 years ago

Such perfect timing for these watermelon tips!!!

Maya Shetty
4 years ago
Reply to  Annette Durbin

Thank you, Annette for your kind comments.Hope they are useful to you, to pick the right melon & try some new recipes with. Enjoy!

4 years ago

Great tips! I will be breaking my fermenting equipment out this summer for sure! Do you have any preferred fermentation recipes?

Maya Shetty
4 years ago
Reply to  Suzan

Thank you, for your kind comments Suzan, so appreciate it. That would be a first for me, coz I have not tried any fermentation recipes with watermelon yet . Is it along the same lines as Kimchi (Korean pickles) ? Haven’t tried pickle making yet, perhaps will this season, now that you have motivated me to think along those lines, all I remember while growing up in India is pickle making is a long laborious procedure & needs a great amount of knowledge about the timings & such. Willing to give it a try , this season, perhaps with raw mangoes to begin with. Good luck on your fermenting equipment. Do sign up to be a subscriber to my email list, if you are interested in receiving regular emails about new recipes. Thank you.

4 years ago

I have studied how to pick a melon and when I try by analyzing it I always pick yucky melons. Every time I just pick one randomly I get great ones. I might just be the watermelon whisperer. Lol this is great though for me to pass down to my kids that keep asking me how to pick one. Now I can tell them.

Maya Shetty
4 years ago
Reply to  Karie

Thank you, for stopping by and reading my blog post & sharing your thoughts. You are lucky to be the watermelon whisperer indeed! The first time the thought to write it down as a blog post came to me, b’coz many a time I have stood in front of the melon stand wondering if it was the right one to pick, until one fine day a Mexican standing next to me explained which was the best way to pick the ripe melon, when I stood there tapping a few.Glad you found it helpful to share with your children. These kind of feedbacks motivate me to keep writing such posts that could help someone . Thank you !

4 years ago

I am so going to save this post and come back and re-read it. Watermelons are my absolute favorite. Thank you for sharing such innovative ways to use them. Love, Pinky