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How to tell a ripe watermelon

There are several clues to tell a ripe watermelon
There are several clues to tell a ripe watermelon
Personal photo used with permission

Sweet delicious watermelon is a favorite fresh treat during the summer months. Today you can buy five common types of watermelon including seeded, seedless, mini, yellow and orange varieties. Ripe watermelon not only tastes great, but because it is 92% water it helps keep us hydrated. Plus it is a nutritionally dense food which is an excellent source of minerals, antioxidants, and several vitamins. Just one cup of watermelon offers 17% of vitamin A and 21% of vitamin C needed for the day. It also offers 2% of iron and 1% of calcium along with thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, panthothenic acid, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, choline, lycopene, and betaine.

"Watermelon contains higher levels of lycopene than any other fresh fruit or vegetable (15 to 20 mg per 2-cup serving) and is part of a healthy diet." National Watermelon Promotion Board

How to tell when a watermelon is ripe

While thumping a watermelon may work for people with an ear to "hear" when a watermelon is ripe, there are also visual cues that can be used to tell when a watermelon is ripe. If you buy a watermelon that is not quite ripe, it will lack the sweetness you're looking for while the texture of an overripe watermelon and be mealy and unappealing. The following steps can help ensure you get a ripe watermelon that offers the taste and nutrition you're looking forward to.

Overall look and condition

The first thing you want to look for when choosing a watermelon is that is firm, symmetrical and free of bruises or other damage. Ripe watermelons are less shiny than their unripe counterparts.


A ripe watermelon should feel heavy for its size. Remember, a ripe watermelon is 92% water.


When watermelon ripens on the vine, the vine gradually withers and begins to unfasten from the watermelon. It leaves behind a "bellybutton." If the melon is picked too early, some of the vine will still be attached to the melon and looks like a curled, dry, pig's tail. Don't buy a melon with a tail. As for the bellybutton itself, some are very small and others larger. Some think smaller bellybuttons mark sweeter watermelons, but this is a matter of personal opinion.

Look at the belly

On the underside or belly of the watermelon, look for the spot where the watermelon rested on the ground. On a ripe watermelon, the spot should be a creamy yellow. If the spot is white it is not ripe yet and if it is too yellow it is overripe.

Following these steps will take the guesswork out of choosing a watermelon and help you tell a ripe watermelon from their unripe or overripe counterparts.

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