06 July 2011

Produce Confidential: Watermelon

As I wandered down the aisles of the grocery store, a 15-pound watermelon rolling about in my cart (myself wondering how in the world I was going to carry it the half-mile home), it suddenly struck me as funny that I was paying less when the fruit was at its best, its tastiest. You can say this about produce, but what other types of food follow this trend?

Oh, here—filet mignon; best it's ever tasted—half off!

That wine is one of the best vintages around, sir. I can get it for you at a fraction of the cost.

Nope. Fruits, veggies, herbs—everything that's seasonal and tastes best at a certain point.

But 15 pounds of watermelon is a big commitment, especially when you're single and going to eat the entire thing alone. So, to help my curiosity and perhaps also spritz yours, I decided to find out the best ways to care for seasonal fruits and veggies.

And I'm starting with watermelon.

Peak Season

Regardless of the fact that you can find this rather hefty fruit year long (thanks to science), watermelon's peak growing season is from May to September, so that's when our favorite green-and-pink (or yellow!) fruit is at its sweetest.

Picking Your Watermelon

As far as picking the perfect watermelon, try to choose one with a dull rind and a slightly sweet smell. The rind should also be free of cracks or bruises. The fruit should have a yellow underside from where it ripened on the ground. Thumping on the side should result in a nice, resonant thunk.

Preparation and Storage

Watermelon can actually be stored on your counter for 7–10 days before slicing. So, if you're having a BBQ but the sale at your local grocery store ends a few days beforehand, don't fear buying the fruit a few days early. When you begin slicing into that lovely hunk of fruit, I recommend only preparing half of the watermelon while placing aluminum foil around the unused portion (leave the rind intact) and placing that half in the fridge. You can cut the portion you'll eat the soonest into wedges, cubes, or even balls, but don't forget to refrigerate after "opening" and to use air-tight containers or aluminum foil to keep the fruit from becoming mushy or mealy.

Do not freeze.

Watermelon Web Sites

I used various sources to create this post, so I thought I'd do the friendly (and, you know, non-plagiarizing) thing and let you know what other authorities are floating about the net. My favorite was actually an article from the Weight Watchers Web Site. The were very straightforward, and I used quite a bit of information from their article.

Want to learn more about watermelon or see some really neat watermelon carvings? Try watermelon.org. It's filled with tasty tidbits about nutrition, and lots of fun recipes!

Want to see some general rules on keeping fruit fresh? SparkPeople has created a handy list to let you know what fruits, veggies, and herbs you should store in what conditions (although I found some of them not as explanatory as they could be)

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