Watermelon – King of summer fruits
Summers and watermelons go hand in hand. Watermelon is the undisputable king of fruits in summers. With almost 90% of water content, it’s not just a good replacement for a plain glass of water, but also adds valuable nutrients to the body. The fibrous texture provides the daily dose of fiber while also enhancing the cooling effect. Thus, it is the best choice of fruit in the form of the fruit itself or juiced or in the form of a nice milkshake.
Even before summer can officially start, they start to appear in the stores, marts, etc. In fact, those are the first signs of the approaching summer if you have forgotten somehow. When was the last time you saw one or picked one? Clearly a year ago. That’s ok, but do you still remember how to pick the right out? Chances are you have already and conveniently forgotten what you learned over the last summer.
To be frank, watermelon is one of the toughest fruits after the coconut to figure out if it is ripe and ready. With its hard shell and green and brown texture, Coconut is almost impossible to predict if the liquid and while copra shell inside will be sweet or not. It takes only an expert to check and figure out what stage the coconut is in, and some of them can just take a look and tell you. But that’s a discussion for another day.
When it comes to the watermelon, it is always green outside with maybe a few yellow spots. While some others come with a natural weaving pattern of yellow and green. The ripe, unripe, and raw watermelons exhibit the same outer appearance, and this makes it extremely difficult to judge if it ready to be eaten or not. But some people may point out that one or two fruits may be unripe. The fact of the matter is watermelons are huge. They easily weigh over 3 pounds. So when you buy one that does not taste right, later on, chances are the entire fruit has to be discarded. Unlike other fruits like bananas which are smaller, like apples, bananas, oranges, etc. even if one turns out bad, you can toss it in the garbage bin and enjoy the other. You cannot press and squeeze the watermelon like other fruits to identify if it is ripe.
When typical fruits ripen, they start becoming yellowish, softer to the touch, and give a faint but distinct sweet smell. The hardness of the naturally ripe fruit is lost. This entire process is missing when watermelons ripen. In fact, chances are the watermelon will be overripe and also spoilt while still retaining its thick and hard outer shell without any noticeable discoloration. Now you would understand why there needs to be a process of identifying ripe watermelons.
Let us define what we mean by a perfect watermelon first
Bright red and juicy on the inside, looking fresh and firm and extremely tasty to eat with juice dripping down as you take a bite. It’s firm to the feel and cuts easily like fresh fruit, and we all know how that feels like.
There is a process of picking up the right watermelons, and if understood properly, you will be able to master the art. And we say it is an art because you will have to give it a couple of tries to mater it. Post that, it will be a breeze to pick them out, and you will have friends, families, and fellow shoppers in a fix. We are not kidding. Now you have to trust the farmers first.
Any farmer will only harvest their crop only when it is almost ready and prepared to be shipped. They do not let the crop ripen on the farm, which will spoil it before you can even transport it. Watermelons are harvested just before they start to ripen. By the time they reach the grocery store, they will be in various stages of being ready. Some may be completely raw, some ready to ripen in a few days and others will be just ready to eat.
How to choose the perfect one
Well, you have to follow all the steps below to pick out the perfect one. All of these are well-known and time-tested methods. Go through them one by one and understand them.
The best way to understand a watermelon is to pick it up. So go ahead and pick one up yourself. Irrespective of the size of the watermelon, it should feel kind of heavy for its size. Other fruits of similar size are much lighter. So the moment you pick it up, you should feel surprised by its weight. If you do, the watermelon meets the first criteria.
Inspect the watermelon for damage:
After picking up the watermelon, turn it in your hands to inspect it closely and properly. There should not be any external damage, bump, or noticeable depression on the surface. That will indicate damage during a fall or improper storage, or incorrect transport.
Inspect the tail:
This one is an easy giveaway too. The plant is intelligent enough to understand and assess the ripeness of its fruits. The stem is bright green and strong during the initial period when it carries all the nutrients to the plant and stays like this until the very end. When the fruit’s growth is adequately complete, the plant slowly reduces the nutrients sent to it and focuses its energy and nutrients on other new fruits. So this stem will become brown and will start drying. A drying out and wrinkled out stem is an indication that the fruit was not harvested before time.
Inspect for firmness:
Watermelons are strong, and they don’t give in even after a small fall and are most likely not to break while still retaining their shell. Good watermelon must be hard to feel, and even your nail must have difficulty piercing it easily. A firm rind is what you should be looking for, and it should not give in to the pressure. However, we are not saying that you soul inspect a few ones at the store and damage them in the process. Just kidding.
Inspect for yellow spots:
Watermelons grow on creepers, but unlike others like e.g. Grapes, they are placed on the ground because of their huge weight. So when they grow on the ground and due to their weight, they develop a splotch (also known as a field or ground spot) on one side that rests on the ground. This also happens due to a lack of exposure to the air.
The spot has to be large, which indicates it spent a long time getting rip. Inspect the splotch closely, and if the color is creamy, it’s a good indication that the fruit is ready. The white color will tell you that it was picked up sooner than it was intended to and didn’t reach the right level of ripeness. Watermelons are one fruit that does not ripen after they are harvested. So one with a whiter splotch will most likely be plain to the taste, unlike the rich watery taste of ripe ones.
The thump or tapping method:
Have you ever given a thump to a vessel full of water? Do it, and you will have an understanding how it feels like. The watermelon is also essentially a container of water and had to feel something like that. It will give a deep hollow sound if you tap or slap the watermelon from different sides with your fist or hand. This is a perfect indication that the fruit is ripe, full of juice, and ready to be eaten. A flat, dull or hollow sound will indicate it’s not ripe and can be either slightly raw or over-ripe.
In addition to picking up the right and ripe watermelon, it’s also important that you do not pick out the wrong and damaged ones. These tips will help you with that.
- Avoid ones with dark-colored spots or something that looks unnaturally different from the rest of the fruit.
- If the flesh is water-soaked, it means that the fruit has started to get spoilt. Avoid it.
Overall, watermelon is the only fruit that needs such an extensive understanding to figure out the right ones from the wrong. But it does not take time. In a few days, you will be quite ready for it, and you will be able to pick it up in the blink of an eye. There may also come a time when you will be able to tell merely by having a look. I hope this article has been useful to you.