How to Pick the Perfect Watermelon!

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One of the more important pieces of knowledge for folks enjoying leisure living to its fullest is in knowing when watermelons are ripe. If you cut one too soon it tastes a little green and stiff. Cut one too late and it has lost some of its sweetness and it feels mushy.

It is watermelon time in most of the country. Every time I crack one open, there is a moment of suspense; did I make the right decision? That's a question we all ask ourselves as the knife slides through the watermelon rind into the rosy flesh beneath.

Finding the perfect melon is not always easy. It takes a sharp eye to determine if the stem has curled to the correct length and has turned brown where it enters the plant. If the underside of the watermelon has turned yellow or white where it touches the ground, it is probably ready to find its place on the picnic table.

The most important part of the selection process is the thumping of the melon. In grocery stores around the country you will see patrons rapping watermelons listening for just the right sound. In major chain supermarkets this is not always an easy note to determine. The best sound, in my opinion, is a dull, hollow note, usually a "D" on the music scale.

Many melons are tossed into the back of the truck before they are ready to be picked and then ripened on the trip from the field to the supermarket. Sometimes this journey is to the other side of the country.

Farmers' Markets are usually a good place to find a ripe watermelon because they come under the scrutiny of the person growing the fruit. Farmers at the market take pride in the fruits of their labor. Their melons are generally larger and heavier. As a result of all the water and sugar stored inside, their offerings are likely to be sweeter than those shipped from Texas to Maine and allowed to ripen on the way to the markets.

When it comes to seedless watermelons, I'm lost. No one really knows when one of these fruits is ripe. I remember when melons were larger, sweeter and less expensive than they are now and had seeds. Those times seem to be gone. Our society has gotten lazier since the '50's and 60's; so much so that the preference for seedless watermelons is the norm now, rather than a rarity. Few people, including myself, take the time to raise their own, therefore we are at the whim of the growers.

There is one thing I've yet to figure out. If a melon is truly seedless, how do they find the seeds to plant new ones? I'm sure there is a logical answer but can it be a true seedless fruit? Could this be the end of watermelon spitting contests?

I somehow equate watermelons with the sound of a rooster crowing, because most of my early dealings with this fruit were down on the farm. There were roadside stands where you could buy a melon, but it was more fun to find one of your own, picked by your father's hands.

Early mornings were the best time to pick melons because the sun was still behind the sweet gum tree on the east side of the house. The temperature was still pleasant and the anticipation of the juicy sweetness just beyond the corn field was almost too much to contain.

Watermelon memories take us all back to summers we wish would come again. Sometimes they do.

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Author: Bob Alexander
Bob Alexander is a true son of the south. He learned to greatly appreciate southern barbeque, good fishing holes and leisure living. Visit his sites at:

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