When is a watermelon ripe? Truthfully, this is something that I struggle with, and I often find that I choose watermelons from the market that are not quite as ripe as I’d like them to be. Recently, I wanted to make a fruit salad, so I needed to know how to tell if a watermelon is ripe so that I could pick a nice juicy watermelon for my salad. I learned quite a bit about watermelons during my search, and I even found some new recipes that I’d like to share with you.
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How to Pick a Watermelon
Have you ever wondered how to choose a watermelon? Well, when watermelon ripening begins, there are a few things to look for. First, watermelons are mostly water; in fact, they are 90 percent water, which means that they will be heavy.
The heavier a watermelon is, the more juice it has inside, which means that it is ripe and ready to be eaten. Also, since watermelons grow on the ground, there is a spot on the melon where the fruit touched the ground. This spot should be clearly visible, and it actually should be yellow. If the watermelon is green at that spot, it has not fully ripened yet.
Watermelon Ripeness Test
The last thing that you want is to find that you picked an unripe watermelon when you get home, so there are a few tests that you can do to ensure that the watermelon is ripe.
The first thing that you can do is scratch the surface of the watermelon slightly to reveal the rind that is directly under the skin of the melon. This rind should be greenish-white in color, so if it is bright green, it is not ripe. Also, you can tap on a watermelon to test its ripeness; if it is hollow sounding, it is ripe.
Watermelon season begins in May and runs through September, which is why this juicy fruit is the perfect treat to keep you hydrated in the summer.
The exact season can vary though, and one of the main reasons that it will vary is because of the area of the country that you live. Warmer areas will have a longer season, while colder parts of the region will have a shorter season.
If you are growing watermelons in your garden, remember that this is a fruit that does not continue to ripen when it is removed from the vine, so if you pick it too soon, your watermelon may not be as juicy as you’d like.
How to Store Watermelon
One of the big concerns that I have with buying a lot of watermelon is being able to eat it all before it goes bad.
So, exactly how long does watermelon last?
Well, that depends on how it is stored and whether the watermelon has been cut or not. An uncut watermelon that is already ripe will last in the refrigerator for two weeks. In some cases, the watermelon will even last three weeks or more.
If it has been cut already, you will need to wrap it in plastic wrap. Doing this will keep the melon for about three to four days. If you cannot eat all of the watermelon in your refrigerator, cut the fruit into cubes, toss them in sugar, and freeze them. The watermelon will be ideal for salsas, soups, and smoothies when it is thawed.
Recipes to Help You Eat that Watermelon
Of course, you can make watermelon drinks, salads, and ice cream, but I enjoy using my extra watermelon to create something that is a bit more creative. Some of my favorite watermelon recipes include:
I love adding this salsa to my tacos because it gives it a freshness that store-bought salsa lacks.
- ½ of a seedless watermelon
- One large mango
- ½ of a red onion
- One seeded jalapeno
- Two limes
- A pinch of salt
- ¼ of a cup of freshly chopped cilantro
Dice the watermelon, the mango, the red onion, and the jalapeno. Place the diced ingredients in a bowl, and add the zest and the juice of both lemons, the salt, and the cilantro. Toss the ingredients, and allow it to chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. Serve the salsa with tortilla chips and enjoy.
Fruit soups are amazingly fresh, and a great way to start your meal during the summer.
- ½ of a watermelon
- ½ of a cup of plain Greek yogurt
- One teaspoon of freshly grated ginger
- The juice from ½ of a lemon
- A pinch of salt
- About five chopped mint leaves
Place all of the ingredients into a food processor or a blender and puree the ingredients until they are well combined. This soup is best when chilled, so you will want to give it four hours in the refrigerator at least. I prefer to chill it overnight, so I make it the day before I plan to serve it to my family. When the soup is properly chilled, you can serve it in bowls with a bit of honey, fresh mint, or crushed walnuts as a garnish.
Watermelon Fruit Leathers
Remember getting fruit roll-ups in your lunchbox as a kid? Well, instead of giving your kids those processed treats from the store, why not create your own fruit leather? This recipe is very easy to make, and it only takes two ingredients, both of which you will most likely already have in your kitchen.
- 10 cups of diced watermelon
- Sugar to taste (if you prefer to use honey as a sweetener, it will taste great in this recipe)
- Additional varieties of fruit (optional)
To begin, you will want to preheat your oven to the lowest setting possible. For my oven, this is 170 degrees, but the actual temperature that you use will vary based on the range of your oven. Then, line a baking sheet with plastic wrap. It needs to be high-quality plastic wrap that is designed to be used in a microwave so that the heat from the oven does not cause it to melt.
Next, place the 10 cups of watermelon and any other fruit that you are using into a food processor and blend it. Place the blended watermelon in a colander that has a mesh straining surface. You are going to want to strain all of the liquid out of the watermelon. I like to line my colander with paper towels so that I can ensure that no watermelon is lost.
Place the watermelon back in the food processor, and then add in the sugar or the honey that you want to use to sweeten the fruit leather. Blend if for about 30 seconds, and taste the puree to see if it is sweet enough for you. Adjust it to your liking, and if you notice any water forming in the mixture, place it back in the colander to strain out the remaining liquid.
When all of the liquid has been removed, you can spread the fruit puree onto the baking sheet that you prepared. Any ripples in the plastic wrap will show on the fruit leather, so make sure that it is spread smoothly. You want the puree to be a thickness of about ¼ of an inch, and avoid spreading it the whole way to the edge of the baking sheet so that you do not have issues removing it when it’s ready.
Bake the fruit leather in the oven until it is no longer shiny. The spread should have a dull appearance, and when you touch it, you should not see your fingerprint in the fruit. Remove the fruit leather from the plastic wrap, and place it on parchment paper. Using scissors, cut the fruit leather and the paper into long strips that are about an inch wide. Roll them up, and store them in an airtight container.
Hopefully, you learned how to tell if a watermelon is ripe by reading this guide, but if you are still unsure about it, go to the market and select one using the tips above. Watermelon is a delightful fruit that you can enjoy all summer, so if you want to try some of the recipes that I have listed above, make sure to create them soon before watermelon season is over.