Watermelon is in abundance all over the Hudson Valley, wet, juicy, and one of the most liked summer treats. The challenge however is as always- you’re faced with piles of watermelons in stores and farm markets, but how do you pick a ripe one?

I’m not real good at it so I’m not giving advice on this, but do take the advice of others who have developed or have been born with the mellon selection skill. There seem to be a great deal of testing methods and gimmicks. Here are a few of them. Try a few out and see what works for you.

  1. Find the yellow splotch (field spot) where the mellon rested on the ground. If the spot is a creamy yellow, the mellon is ripe. A large yellow spot is a good sign not a bad one. Any other colors like green, light green or white are wrong colors and indicate a melon that did not mature correctly.
  2. Tap the bottom of the mellon. If the sound is hollow, it’s good to go.
  3. Press on the melon with a finger. If there is a little give to it then it is ripe. If not then move on.
  4. Find the stem connection at one end of the watermellon. It looks a bit like a bellybutton. If the mellon was picked before it was ripe then this stem will be green. The stem will be brown if it ripened on the vine.
  5. Make sure that the body of the watermelon is a dark green with contrasting lighter stripes. Light colored mellons are not ripe. Pass on those that are shiny. Shiny is a bad sign on a watermellon.
  6. Find a few of the same size that have potential. Heft them up and decide which one is the heaviest. It’s probably the ripest of the bunch. Light weight mellons are likely to be dry on the inside.
  7. Feel for a vibration (no kidding). Hold the mellon the same way you would hold a newborn. With your top hand give it a good tap. You should feel the vibration on your lower hand.
  8. If you have a melon gender preference here’s how it works- Farmers seem to differentiate watermelons by gender. For example, ‘boys’ are bigger, have an elongated shape, and more of a watery taste. The ‘girls’ have a more rounded shape and are very sweet.

  9. For those who enjoy a libation with their watermelon. Here is a video on how to spike a watermelon. Enjoy but go easy!
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The Sojourner