How do you pick a good watermelon? What can you do with watermelon? When are watermelons in season? Here’s what you need to know to bring home the best watermelons all year long.
When are watermelons in season?
It’s always watermelon season somewhere. But let’s be honest, we associate the juicy fruit with warm weather, BBQs, and lazy beach days – in reality it’s available all year round. So when are watermelons in season?
The best time to buy is between May and September. That’s when production kicks in for the top four watermelon growing states – Florida, Georgia, Texas, and California. The very peak of the season is July and August, that’s when when stores are supplied with melons at their best.
When watermelon season winds down in the U.S., farmers in Mexico are harvesting perfectly ripe watermelon to be delivered to the U.S. so you can enjoy this delicious fruit all year long.
So while it’s true that there is no wrong way to eat a watermelon, there’s no wrong time either. Perfectly ripe and vibrant twelve months of the year. What’s better than that?
Varieties of Watermelon
There are over 50 different varieties of watermelon, most of which you have probably never partaken of or seen. All varieties of watermelon share a distinct juicy, sugary flesh encased by a solid rind but vary in color, shape, and size.
- Seeded: thick green rind, red/pink flesh and black seeds. Available in round, long and oblong sizes, this variety weighs in at 15 to 45 pounds
- Seedless: the majority of the watermelons are seedless. These are hybrids and not totally seedless! You’ll still find softer, white seeds instead of the nostalgic black seeds we spit out as kids.
- Mini: are, you guessed it, small and quite possibly the cutest of watermelons. They are petite, easy to handle and range anywhere between 1 and 7 pounds.
- Yellow: these lack lycopene, a chemical compound that gives traditional watermelon it’s red color. These can sometimes be sweeter than red watermelon, are round in shape and weigh 10 to 30 pounds.
How to Pick the Perfect Watermelon
Just because it’s a good time to buy watermelon doesn’t mean it’s impossible to bring home a dud. An overripe watermelon is mealy while an underripe one tastes watery. But don’t worry, we’ve all been there!
Thing is, you don’t truly know what you’re dealing with until you cut into it. But you will increase your chances of picking a primo watermelon by remembering the Three S’s: skin, size, spot.
- Skin: look over the watermelon. The skin should be firm, shiny, and free of bruises, cuts or dents.
- Size: since it’s 92% water, a ripe watermelon should be heavy for its size.
- Spot: make sure it has a creamy, yellow spot on its underside. This is where it sat on the ground and ripened in the sun. No spot? Put it back, not ripe!
Composed of 92% water, they contain 46 calories per cup and have no fat. Watermelon is a good source of beta-carotene, vitamin C, and the powerful antioxidant lycopene. While tomatoes get most of the lycopene love, 1 cup of watermelon contains the same amount as 2 medium tomatoes and doesn’t need to be cooked to enhance its potency!
How long do watermelons last?
A watermelon’s shelf-life is pretty long: about three to four weeks. But you need to remember that window includes the amount of time spent shipping to the grocery store. So once that watermelon hits the counter, you only have about a week to use it and up to three weeks if you head straight to the refrigerator.
should Watermelon be Refrigerated?
If the watermelon was cold when you bought it, keep it cold. Watermelon chunks or slices stored in an airtight container will last up to a week in the fridge. If you have halves or quarters, wrap, refrigerate, and cut within 2-3 days.
Can You Freeze Watermelon?
Watermelon isn’t the best candidate for freezing. It can be done, but the results are never very satisfying. When frozen watermelon thaws it gets soggy and won’t taste nearly as good as the fresh stuff.
If you’re going to freeze it, cut the watermelon into chunks, freeze on a piece of parchment paper, and transfer to an air-tight container when completely frozen. Frozen watermelon is best for things like smoothies, lemonade or or in place of ice cubes.
What to do with watermelon
Did you know you can eat the WHOLE watermelon? Yes, rind and seeds included. Each part of the watermelon has its own unique flavors and uses.
Watermelon is delicious on its own, but equally refreshing in a fruit salad, salsas, drinks, or on skewers accompanied by cheese. Another odd, yet satisfying, way to use watermelon? Chili Lime Watermelon Sticks with Greek yogurt dip.
Recipes to try:
Watermelon Caprese Salad