Southern Plantation "Internet"

Sunday, May 27, 2012



How do you select a ripe or quality watermelon?  Nothing is more disappointing than to gather or buy, wait to cut, and then the melon is green or worse---mushy!  
There are certain traits you can look for to get the best possible melon.
First of all, a watermelon is ripe when its belly turns from white to a cream  or  yellowish color.  The belly of a watermelon is the part that rests on the ground  and it is white when the melon is green and will get, as we say in the south, "yellower" as the melon gets riper.  But be careful---if it's real bright yellow, it's probably over-
Next, if your melon is an oblong-long type melon, slight longitudinal (lenghtwise), ridges can be felt on the upper surface when it is ripe.  Like Ruffles, ripe melons have ridges.  If the belly is yellow, but no ridges the melon may have been picked green, allowed to ripen, and will be of poor quality.  If harvested green, the watermelon flesh will turn red, but will  not be sweet.  Unless they are picked out of a garden or bought on the farm, most melons are harvested a little early  to allow for shipping and handling.  The earlier they are picked, the less time for the fruit to get sugars from the plant and the poorer the quality.  This is why Certified S. C. grown is so important.
If you are picking a melon out of the garden, the curl (tendril) nearest the melon's stem will be dried when ripe.  However, once ripe, the curl dries, and if you wait too long to check the curl, you may be harvesting the melon overripe.
If the stem is completely dried, the melon most likely has been harvested for a long time.  Vendors may keep cutting the stem as it dries, to make it appear that the melon has been harvested recently. If the stem has been removed, most likely it has totally dried.  
Don't depend on thumping the melon---it is a poor test of ripening, growth rate, water levels, sugar content and other factors.
 Fresh watermelon is also good for you.  It contains higher levels of lycopene than any other produce, including tomatoes.  Studies have drawn  correlation between lycopene consumption and the possible prevention of cancer, heart diseas and stroke.

author:  Tony Melton...Clemson University Extension....

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