Kitchen Care: Hacks for picking your best summer watermelon

This salad is a flavorful twist on the usual watermelon salad, as it’s been kicked up by the addition of fresh jalapenos.
Published: Jul. 13, 2023 at 4:23 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 13, 2023 at 4:34 PM CDT

TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Someone asked me this week how they know if the watermelon they pick at the grocery store is a good one; she said that the last two she bought at a grocery store were not sweet at all. After telling her the tips I’ve learned over the years, I decided it might be helpful to share these tips here, too, in case you’re wondering the same thing

Many East Texas farmers grow great watermelons; the town of Grapeland is regionally famous for the excellence of theirs. But if you can’t get to your local farm stand or farmers market, it’s important to know what to look for when you’re in the grocery store to have better odds of getting a good one during watermelon season, which runs from May through September.

These tips are not 100 percent guaranteed, but they can definitely help guide you to a better one than you’d get by grabbing one blindly from a big crate of melons in the aisle of the store while people push their carts close to you as they rush by.

1. Inspect the melon’s stem. If it is dry and yellowish brown, it’s an indicator that the melon was allowed to ripen before it was picked. A green stem indicates it may have been harvested before reaching ripeness. Watermelons do not continue to ripen after they are cut from their vines, unlike fruits like bananas.

2. Feel the melon’s weight. If you pick up a watermelon and are surprised that it isn’t as heavy as you thought it would be, put it back down and choose a different one. Good watermelons tend to feel heavier than they look like they will be, as there is more juice in the fruit.

3. Look for the web-like lines on the outside of the melon. Experts say those lines indicate a sweeter melon.

4. Rounder melons tend to be sweeter than the elongated melons.

5. Look for the ground spot, where the melon was in contact with the ground as it ripened. It should be a creamy yellow spot on the underside of the watermelon. If the spot is white, it may mean it was cut before it was sufficiently ripe. If it’s dark orangey-yellow, it may be overripe.

6. Finally, if your watermelon is very shiny, it’s probably underripe.

Uncut watermelons can be left on the counter for a week to ten days before using. Once cut, they must be refrigerated, and are best used within four days.

Here are some watermelon recipes you might enjoy:

Watermelon cucumber salad

Watermelon salad with red wine vinaigrette

Grilled watermelon salad