4 Genius Tricks to Pick a Perfectly Sweet Watermelon

A watermelon's tough, thick rind makes it seem impossible to tell what's hiding inside. Never fear! These tips on how to pick a watermelon will help you choose a melon that's perfectly ripe and juicy.

You know summer has arrived with the season's first bite of watermelon. It's so disappointing, then, when that bite is dry, underripe, and lacking sweetness. No matter how you're using watermelon, eating it by the slice, making a stunning watermelon cake, or stirring up a refreshing watermelon sorbet; you want each fruit you bring home to be ripe and dripping with juice. That's why we turned to the National Watermelon Promotion Board and Lee Wroten, vice president of Global Produce Sales in Lakeland, Florida, for tips on how to pick the best watermelon from the bunch.

watermelon spears

The next time you head to the grocery store and are trying to figure out how to pick a good watermelon, keep the four S's in mind:

1. Sheen

"A watermelon tends to lose its natural sheen and color over time," Wroten says. Look for a fruit that's shiny and vibrant in color when picking a watermelon to take home.

2. Shading

The side of the melon that was resting on the ground should be a creamy yellow color rather than pale white, and the top should be a bright green hue with well-defined stripes. If the underside of the watermelon is white, the fruit was most likely harvested too early.

3. Sound

Give the melon a pat and listen for a hollow, drumlike ring. A flat or dead thud can clue you in about bruising, overripeness, or a lack of juiciness.

4. Size

Because 92% of a watermelon is (appropriately) water, the fruit should feel heavy relative to its size. Lift up the melon: If it feels heavier than you expected and meets the other criteria above, proceed to the checkout line.

In addition to these four watermelon picking tips, avoid melons that are wet, dented, bruised, or cracked, just like you would for any other fruit. And while it may come as a surprise since watermelon has such a tough rind, wash your melon before cutting into it. Similar to avocados, if the outside of your watermelon isn't clean before making the first cut, your knife ($140, Bed Bath & Beyond) can transfer bacteria from the rind to the juicy fruit inside. A quick rinse under clean, running water should be all you need to do.

Also, keep in mind that watermelons don't ripen any further after they're picked. Once you've chosen a melon to bring home, refrigerate the whole fruit up to four days to help it stay fresh. If you plan to use the watermelon soon, it can be stored on the counter or in the pantry one to two days. After cutting up the melon, slices will keep in the fridge for up to three days as long as they're tightly wrapped or kept in a covered container.

Once you know how to pick a sweet watermelon at the grocery store, maybe the next step is trying to grow your own at home! We've got tips to help get your own watermelon patch set up, and how to know when to harvest them from the vine (it's a little different from grabbing one at the store). No matter where you get your watermelons, there are plenty of cool, refreshing recipes to try, and even a few surprising ones, too.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles