How To Pick A Superstar Watermelon

how to pick a good watermelon
Picking out a watermelon at the grocery store is such an anxiety plagued experience, isn’t it?

If you pick a bad one, you’re stuck with 15-20 whopping pounds of watermelon terribleness. And then your options are to either force yourself to eat this yucky watermelon or throw it away…and both are less than desirable options.

So my goal today is to help you pick sweet, ripe watermelons because I know how disappointing it is to get home, take your first bite of some sort of produce you buy, only to find out it sucks.

All the tips here are tidbits I have gathered from personal experience and lots of conversations with produce people and farmers. Please note that there are now some really wonderful tips in the comments section as well, like looking closely for bee sting marks!

Here’s what to look for when selecting a watermelon:

  1. Pick a dull looking watermelon.  A shiny appearance indicates an underripe melon. This applies to honeydew melons too.
  2. Find the field spot.  This is a creamy spot on the melon, and it’s where the watermelon was resting on the ground.  The field spot should be a yellowish creamy color, like shown with my watermelon:how to pick a ripe watermelonThe darker the color of the creamy spot, the longer it was on the vine sweetening up.  If it is white (or not even there), put it back, because this indicates an underripe melon.
  3. What’s all that knockin’ about?  A dull thud indicates an underripe melon.  You will get a dull thud if the flesh is soft, which you don’t want.  Your knuckles should bounce off the melon, and the surface should be pretty hard/firm.
  4. Pick that bugger up.  Is the watermelon heavy for its size?  Note: this applies to pretty much ALL produce.  When I pick up onions for example, I pick the heaviest one for its size.  That means there is lots of water in there.  The watermelon pictured here in my post was a whopping 18 pounds!  It was heavier than the other comparably sized melons around it.
  5. While you’ve got the watermelon in your arms, make sure it’s uniformly shaped.  Irregular bumps indicate it may have gotten inconsistent amounts of sun or water.

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While you’re here, let me show you how to cut the watermelon up so it’s in delicious little chunks that are easy to eat:

how to pick the best watermelon

Cut the top and bottom off so it can lay flat on a cutting board (I like this one because it has grooves on the side that catch the juices).

how to pick a sweet watermelon

Run a sharp knife down the sides, taking the rind off.

watermelon picking and cutting tips

Cut it into the desired number of disks, then cut it up into chunks.

Then freeze the cubes to make a Watermelon Lime Slushie! This video shows you how to make one of my favorite and also simplest drinks with watermelon:

Happy summer!
Disclosure: this post contains an Amazon affiliate link.

More recipes you might enjoy:


250 comments… add one

Leave a Comment

  • avatar caligirl August 30, 2013, 9:45 pm

    is it just me, or was 2013 a sort of bad year for watermelon generally…?

    Reply
    • avatar jalbe March 30, 2014, 11:38 pm

      Haha, I guess so, Caligirl, but I just thought that was my husband! ;)

      Thanks for a few more tips!!

      Reply
  • avatar Karen October 7, 2013, 10:02 pm

    Thank you for the watermelon & cutting tips. Seems I always pick bad ones and never really learned how to cut them as well.
    You make it look so simple
    Thank you,
    Karen
    Bakersfield, CA

    Reply
  • avatar Gina November 6, 2013, 1:58 pm

    My produce manager once told me to look for what he referred to as bloodspots- on either end of the melon- or in a spot where the melon has some kind of scar- if it is a really sweet melon the juice will come to the surface and the air will cause the sugar to harden so it sort of looks like hardened blood- hence the name ” bloodspots” this advice has never failed me- I’ve always gotten the sweetest melons!

    Reply
  • avatar Gingergirl40 February 7, 2014, 2:08 pm

    I thought I was the only one who agonized over picking out a watermelon, and how utterly disappointing it is to get a bad one! Thank you for the tips!

    Reply
  • avatar steve April 3, 2014, 6:45 pm

    Fantastic advice and great photography. Makes me want to go out and buy one.

    Reply
  • avatar Maria April 11, 2014, 8:25 pm

    Hi Joanne, I think I´m reading a bit too late this post, here in Chile watermelons are at the end of the season…
    About the 3rd tip you wrote, according to my produce supplier, you must knock during the morning, this is because when the temperature goes up, the fruit heats a bit so every watermelon will sound similar. Works for me ;)

    Thank you for your helpfull advices, will have them in mind for next summer!

    Maria
    Santiago, Chile

    Reply

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