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How to Pick a Ripe Watermelon

If you ever cut open a fresh watermelon just to have it be soft, stringy, and flavorless, you need to find out how to pick a ripe watermelon. Summertime is synonymous with this refreshing treat. Sweet, juicy, and refreshing, this quintessential fruit is a must-have for picnics, barbecues, and backyard get-togethers.

But not all watermelons are created equal. Some are juicier and tastier than others. It can be intimidating and frustrating finding a sweet watermelon.

Whether you are picking one at the grocery store, farmers market, or your own garden, here’s a guide to picking the perfect best watermelon every time.

Did You Know. That commercial growers of watermelon will choose a few fruits to sample throughout the field to assure that they are at the right ripeness before picking and sending off to the grocery store.

How to Pick a Ripe Watermelon

How to Choose a Ripe Watermelon Every Time

It’s easy to find the perfect watermelon when you know what signs indicate that they’re ripe and delicious. With these tips, your next time choosing a watermelon will be one that is rewarded with a sweet, juicy, and delicious tasting fruit.

Did You Know. Unlike like other fruits, watermelons do not continue to ripen and get sweeter after they are harvested?

If you don’t want an underripe green tasting slice or a soggy overripe tasteless slice, you need to know the secrets. Let’s explore what to look for when choosing that perfect one.

Here are 7 methods to use when searching for the perfectly ripe watermelon

Look for a Field Spot Color

The field spot or yellow ground spot is the light-colored spot on the underbelly of the melon. This is where the melon was in contact with the ground. If the spot is white, it is not ready to be picked yet. A melon that has been left to ripen naturally on the vine should have a yellow hue when it is ready to be harvested and enjoyed.

In fact, the larger and yellower that the spot is, the longer the melon has been ripening on the vine. You are assured a juicy watermelon. So, look for that dark yellow spot on the underside of the watermelon.

Sliced Melon

Look for a Round Watermelon.

A round shape means that the water is evenly distributed throughout the melon. It also means that the watermelon is a female, which is sweeter and more flavorful than the male.

An oblong melon is a male, which tends to be more watery and not as sweet.

You may also see melons with irregular bumps on one side. This might be from overwatering or growing in drought conditions. I would stay away from this fruit as it will not have the taste you are looking for. Look for melons with a uniform shape.

Check for Heft

When you pick up the watermelon, it should be heavy. When the interior flesh is dense and full of juice with that delicious flavor, the melon will be rather heavy. However, an overly heavy watermelon might mean that it is overripe. Therefore, it is important to use the weight of the melon in conjunction with the other telltale signs of a ripe melon.

Sound of the Melon

This may seem odd but listening to the sound of the melon when thumped with your knuckles can tell if the melon is good for eating. A deep hollow sound indicates that the melon is mostly water and should be good to eat. A dull sound or high-pitched sound means that it is not a good choice for eating as it may be under ripe or overly ripe. This is also known as the Thump Test.

Sweet Treat for a Summertime Picnic

Outer Rind Glossiness and Texture

You might be drawn to the shinier and glossier rind; however, that means that the melon isn’t fully ripe yet. Rather, look for a rind that is dull and rough to the touch. This means that it is nearing its full ripeness and will be great for eating.

Watermelons with a dull rind have had time to age in the garden allowing them to store up sugar and fluid.

Press on the Watermelon

Press on the watermelon skin a bit. The perfect melon should have just a little bit of give. Stay away from a rind that does not give or is mushy and soft.

Look at the Watermelon Stem

Often, the melons in the grocery store do not have the stem on them. However, in my garden or the local farmers market, they do have the stem on them. Another indicator of the perfect melon is to look at the stem end. Look for a stem that has turned from green to brown.

When the curly tendrils are brown, that means that the plant is at the end of the growing cycle. The fruit will not continue to ripen, and it is time to pick it.

Juicy and Sweet Watermelon

What Varieties of Watermelon Taste Better?

There are six varieties of watermelons that taste the best.

  1. Bush Sugar Baby
  2. Crimson Sweet
  3. Yellow Doll
  4. Charleston Gray
  5. Orange Tendersweet
  6. Triple Crown

Learning How to Pick a Ripe Watermelon Summary

At first glance, it might seem like it is a mystery when trying to pick the right watermelon. However, follow these tips and you will be well on your way to finding that perfect summertime treat or learning when to pick it at the right time.


How do you pick out a good watermelon?

Look for the 4 “S” indicators, shape, size, spot, and sound. Round shape, slightly heavy melon, yellow spot, and deep sound when tapped with your knuckles.

Do watermelons ripen on their own after being picked?

No, watermelons are one of those fruits that do not continue to ripen after being picked. Therefore, it is important that they are harvested when they are fully ripened.

Is Light or Dark Watermelon Sweetest?

Look for watermelons with a nice contrast between the stripes and a yellow spot. They will be sweeter as they have been allowed to ripen on the vine. A light melon is a sign of an unripe melon.

What is the Webbing on Watermelons?

The large webbing that is seem on some watermelons is also referred to as sugar spots. This means that the sugar is weeping out of the melon. This is a good sign that the watermelon is sweet. If the melon is dark and dull on the rind with this webbing, it should be ready to enjoy.

How long can watermelon sit out at room temperature?

If cut melon pieces sit out at room temperature for longer than two hours, they should be thrown out. However, a whole watermelon should be left at room temperature. Once sliced open, the watermelon should be refrigerated. Cover the sliced end of the watermelon or store the sliced pieces in an airtight container.

What is the White Spot on a Watermelon?

That is the field spot. It is where the melon touches the soil as it sits on the ground. However, if the spot on the underside of the melon is white, it is not ready to harvest yet. Wait until the spot is creamy yellow in color. This is an indicator of a sweet melon.

How to Tell if a Watermelon Has Gone Bad?

Probably the easiest method is to check for soft spots on the outer skin. If there are any patches of mold and decay, it should not be consumed. That decay could be black, white, or even a greenish-blue. Rotten watermelon may smell off or have a slimy texture. It is best to toss.

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