Thursday, September 17, 2009

Episode 20 - Watermelon

On this episode learn how to choose, what might be the most difficult fruit to pick right, the watermelon.

The watermelon is approximately 92 percent water and for this reason it's important to choose watermelons that are heavy for their size, very heavy!

Watermelons possess many clues that you can feel, hear, and see which tell you whether or not they are ripe. Most important of these are a watermelon's shape, weight, and the sound it makes when tapped.

In order to perform the "thump" test (the test that allows you to hear if a melon is ripe) you must follow a few basic steps. First you want to make sure you are holding the melon away from your body. Next use an open hand to tap the watermelon as you would a bongo drum. Finally listen for a sound that is similar to a bongo drum except with a slightly deeper sound.

This technique is a skill as well as an art and the more times you perform it, the better you'll get at picking ripe watermelons.

All of these tips, tricks, and techniques require practice. Try to find as many of these tips as possible in each watermelon you choose but don't feel the need to find them all in each and every melon. The more clues you can find to a watermelon's ripeness the better your chance of getting that perfect melon will be. Get out there and practice but most of all enjoy!

Show notes (i.e. the script from the show)

I refer to the watermelon as the holy grail of fruit selecting technique because it's probably the hardest item in the produce department to pick out right and it's probably the number one item I was asked to help peolple choose.

I like to say picking out watermelons is 70% skill, 20% art, and 10% luck.

So let's learn the skills that you'll need to pick out your prefect watermelon.

The watermelon you are choosing should be symmetrical meaning that it should be the same shape all around the melon, no flat spot or one side being bigger than the other. The skin should be a dull green as opposed to shiny which could mean the melon isn't quite ripe.

Look for a pale, creamy, yellow spot on one side of the melon, this spot is where the melon sat on the ground while it ripened in the sun. A spot that is white instead of yellow is good indicator that it was not allowed to fully ripen and you want to avoid these melons.

Next pick up the melon and notice why its called a WATERmelon, it's heavy or at least it should be, very, very heavy especially for it's size. The watermelon is appropriately names since it is made up of 92% water!. For this reason each melon you choose should be heavy for its size. This is hard to understand at first but after you pick up enough melons you get used to what this feels like. So always make sure to pick up more than just one melon when shopping for that perfect fruit.

Other indicators of ripeness include a still attached dry stem and sugar spots or "bee stings." These look like little black, molasses spots on the melon or small areas of dry patches.

Finally and maybe the most difficult part, this is where the skill meets the art, the all important tap or thump test.

I know you've seen that person standing in the produce department over a large bin of watermelons tapping, thumping, flicking or listening to many different melons. But what are they listening for? Would they know the right sound when they heard it? Probably not.

The answer is simple but perhaps a little hard to perfect. The melon should sound like a bongo drum when tapped. Make sure to hold the melon away from your body and using an open hand, tap it like you would a bongo drum. Listen for a deeper sound than you would hear from a bongo drum. A solid sound or one that sounds too hollow should probably be passed. You may also notice that the bottom of the melon, the part that you are holding with your other hand, the one not doing the tapping, vibrates. This is also a good indicator of ripeness.

In the end, try to put all of these indicators together into one melon however do not expect to find them all in each melon. Try to get as close as possible with the main indicators, heavy, symmetrical, and a bongo drum sound mixed with vibration and you should get yourself a good tasting watermelon each time!

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