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Good Watermelon Makes for a Great Summer: Tips & Recipes from Food Town

Flavorful, versatile and often grown right here, in our home state of Texas, a good watermelon is arguably one of the best summer fruits there is. And there’s more to them than meets the eye.

Did you know there are more than 300 varieties out there — including those with yellow or orange flesh? Or that it’s available year-round? More than 30 U.S. states produce the fruit during the spring and summer seasons, while Central and South America take on production during fall and winter. On top of everything else, a good watermelon is good for you, with minimal calories and lots of nutrients such as potassium, magnesium and vitamins A and C.

With so many benefits and options out there, your Food Town decided it was time to take a close look at this seasonal favorite. Read on for helpful insights surrounding available varieties, tasty preparations and how to choose a watermelon at the store.

How to Pick a Watermelon

A good watermelon makes for a tasty and healthy summer snack, but it’s important to choose the right one. (And that isn’t always easy.) Growers use a scale called the brix count to gauge a melon’s sweetness, with 10 being standard flavor and melons at 11 or 12 considered extra sweet. Most grocery shoppers aren’t agricultural experts, however, and find themselves resorting to different measures (or sheer guesswork) when it comes to how to pick a watermelon.    

Here, you’ll find a few tried-and-true tips for how to pick a watermelon, straight from Food Town’s produce pros. You can put these methods to use right in our Produce section! Don’t forget, though — if you still find yourself stuck, you can always ask for assistance. Our team’s a friendly bunch, and we’re glad to help.

  • Find the Yellow Belly, or Field Spot: Perhaps the best indicator of a melon’s ripeness, the field spot tells you the position the melon was in when attached to the vine. Ripe watermelons will have a large, butter-like yellow patch on one side. The bigger the field spot and creamier the color, the more time it spent ripening on the vine. Beware of smaller yellow bellies or those that look more white than yellow, as these can be indicators that the melon isn’t as ripe.
  • Tap the Melon’s Underbelly: Use your knuckles to tap (lightly!) on the outside of a melon and take note of how it sounds. Ripe melons typically have a deeper sound, while over-ripe ones sound more hollow or flat. That hollow sound is often due to spoiling flesh that’s gone soft.
  • Choose Dull, Heavy Watermelons: Looks aren’t everything, neighbor, especially when it comes to how to pick a watermelon. The best ones are often dull in appearance (a shiny skin indicates the melon isn’t yet ripe), and are heavier, too. It’s a watermelon’s high water content that makes them so juicy and flavorful. So, the heavier the melon, the juicier it’s likely to be.
  • Use the Two-Finger Rule: A watermelon’s webbing, or the long lines running the length of the fruit, can be a handy indicator of its ripeness. Many people say if a melon’s dark green stripes are about as wide as two fingers, it’s sweet and ripe.  

Of course, in addition to choosing a watermelon that’s ripe, you’ll want to make sure it meets other criteria. (For instance, can you carry it? Will seeds be an issue? Does its color suit the recipe or look you’re going for?) Let’s take a high-level look at watermelon options you’re likely to come across in your grocer’s produce section.

  • Seeded Watermelon: Round, long or oblong in shape, with weights ranging from 5 to 45 pounds
  • Seedless Watermelon: Round or oblong in shape, with weights ranging from 0 to 25 pounds
  • Mini Watermelon: Round and seedless, with weights ranging from 1 to 7 pounds.
  • Yellow & Orange Watermelon: Round with seeded and seedless options, and weights ranging from 10 to 30 pounds

Watermelon Recipes and Uses

There’s nothing wrong with slicing up a ripe watermelon and enjoying it as-is or sprinkled with seasonings such as Tajín. But when there are so many great watermelon recipes out there, why limit yourself? Here are a few of our favorite ways to prepare this summertime staple.

Watermelon Recipes Using the Fruit

It’s easy to incorporate fresh watermelon into any portion of a meal, from pre-dinner appetizers to sweet desserts for that perfect finishing touch.

Watermelon Recipes Using the Rind

Think twice before throwing out a watermelon’s hard rind exterior. This part of the fruit is packed with nutrients and can be incorporated into mealtimes in all sorts of surprising ways.

  • Pickled Watermelon Rind: With a flavor and texture similar to that of a cucumber, watermelon pickles are a no-brainer! Try our quick and easy Pickled Watermelon Rind recipe, which requires just an hour of cook time, plus time to soak.
  • Juiced Watermelon Rind: In addition to blending the juicy red fruit itself, you can incorporate the blended rind with ingredients for healthy, refreshing drinks (or even ice pops).
  • Stir-Fried Watermelon Rind: A cut-up rind is no different than an everyday vegetable, making it a great option for Asian stir-fry creations! Mix your rind with carrots, broccoli and other veggies for a meal packed with flavor and nutrients.

A good watermelon is something just about everyone will enjoy — especially when summer temperatures soar. This season, take the time to try a few new recipes or preparations. You might just find a new fave. Don’t forget, our produce bins are brimming with seasonal fruits, and we’d love nothing more than to see you. Stop by your neighborhood Food Town soon to stock up and make summer sweet!

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