I grew up spitting seeds. It was what you did while sitting on the porch with a thick, pie wedge of watermelon; a rosy stain on your face and running in streams down your arms.
My Papa grew the big oval melons with green zig-zag stripes and a creamy yellow underbelly. We’d go out to the garden – which to a little kid seemed to be the size of forever – where he’d thump, roll over and plug to uncover a perfectly ripe melon. It all seemed like some sort of alchemy to a small girl, not that I would have even known the word “alchemy” back then.
Picking an utterly impeccable watermelon is part experimentation and part observation.
Ok, I still thump my melons for that deep, solid yet hollow sound, and usually do pretty well.
Science says that’s not your most reliable way. Plugging – where you take a core sample – probably won’t happen in most markets. And, while you could do that in your private patch, it can lead to an introduction of unwanted bacteria and bugs.
The most reliable way to tell if a watermelon is going to be everything a kid dreams is a simple practice.
The melon should be heavy for its size. After all, you want it full of juicy goodness. Next, check the stem. If it’s started to wither you’re getting there. Finally, look at the underside of the watermelon. It should have a creamy yellow spot which indicates it’s been left in the field to ripen. I certainly haven’t achieved the status of a watermelon alchemist, but these steps are pretty good indicators.
Other than out-of-hand, one of my favorite ways to serve watermelon is with feta cheese and mint with a good amount of cracked pepper. You really don’t need a recipe for this one. Cut watermelon into two inch-ish chunks and toss onto a platter, scatter feta and torn mint leaves over the melon, then crack pepper on top to finish.
Happy eating, my friends –