Monday, August 16, 2010

Market Madness: watermelon.

Junior calls it "yummo-memmon". Hey, he's two. He also asks for gweem beems and hot gogs with jeez.

Interpretations aside, I have to agree with his assessment. Watermelons are yummo, indeed. For some people, a summer is not a success without at least one evening spent with a big, juicy watermelon. And you can't really blame them.

There's the fruit itself, which tastes like nothing else. Red or yellow, depending on your aesthetic preferences. Then you have the fun of seed-spitting contests. You can also choose a seedless kind, if you're so inclined. It's more refined. And you can pickle the rind!

I'm losing my mind.

Raise your hand if you've ever looked over a display of watermelon and been stumped as to how to choose the best one. Yeah, me too. It's kind of like going to a used car lot and kicking the tires. Do you look for color? Thump the rind? Tie a ring on a string and swing it over the melon of your choice?

If you're choosing from the local market, what you see is what you get. Like a number of other fruits, watermelons don't continue to ripen after harvest. You have to rely on the Picker In Charge to select and sell the ripest fruits.

If you're going the GIY route, there are a few clues to help you pick the perfect melon. Check the color. The underside of the melon should be a nice straw color. That's yellow, not white with red stripes.

The thump test is a tried-and-true method for selecting a ripe melon. It takes a few tries, but experts swear by it. Ignore the stares of other shoppers and thump away at a big bin of watermelons. Listen for that nice, hollow "boom" that only a ripe melon can produce. Once you get the ear for it, you can count on picking a winner almost every time.

There's one more trick I plan to try the next time I'm in the market for a melon: the touch test. According to Roger Swain, former host of "The Victory Garden", all you have to do is feel your watermelon to know if it's ready to pick. An "underage" watermelon will have a very smooth skin, while a ripe one has little ridges on it.

Once you have your watermelon, you don't need any advice on what to do with it. Just slice it into wedges and dig in! Or are half-rounds better? What about cutting off the ends to make bowls and eating with a spoon? Chunks? Watermelon balls?

How do YOU eat a watermelon?


  1. Watermelon by itself is not a favorite, but I like it mixed with other melons.

  2. So that lady holding up melons to her melon and thumping them is not crazy after all. Sorry I called the men in white uniforms and nets to take her away. We love watermelons and cut them up into large chunks. No melon balls for us.

    Stephen Tremp

  3. Alex-- my dad is also less than keen on watermelon. He blames it on us kids and our fondness for watermelon-flavored bubble gum. ;)

    Stephen-- I hope you're planning to bail her out! *snicker*


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