Watermelon is a staple of many summertime picnics and cookouts. The next time you’re at the neighborhood produce stand, keep these tips in mind to ensure you select the ripest, juiciest melon for your eating and seed-spitting enjoyment.

  • Green and non-grainy: Look for watermelon that’s a lush green color and has deep green stripes. The skin, or rind, should have a smooth texture that’s nearly free of lumps and bumps.

    Steer clear of a watermelon with bruised, cracked, or dented skin.

  • Hard and hefty: The rind should feel hard when you press it with your fingers in a few places. When you pick up the melon, it should feel like it weighs more than it should for its size.

  • Hollow and harvested on time: When you thump the watermelon with your knuckles or fingertips, it should sound a bit hollow inside. Turn the melon over to make sure it has a flatter side that’s yellowish or cream-colored. This is a good indicator that the watermelon stayed planted long enough to reach full ripeness. It wasn’t harvested too early.

After a watermelon is picked, it stops ripening. So it’s worth spending a few extra minutes picking out a melon that’s at the peak of its tasty juiciness.

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