6 tips on how to select the perfect watermelon

It's barely spring, but I'm already two watermelons in and both of them were, well, blech. The watermelon gets eaten by the kids and my husband (who apparently have less discerning taste buds than I do). But it's still a pain to lug a 10-pounder from the car and spend 15 minutes cutting it (then cleaning up the mess) only to discover the fruit is a little dry and bland.
If you've ever thumped 15 watermelons at the store, shrugged your shoulders and grabbed the one you thought just "might" be a good one, thump and shrug no more. These tips should make finding the perfect watermelon a bit easier.
1. Check out the bum
Once you pull a watermelon off the vine, it's done. No more ripening. In a hurry to get watermelons to the market, farmers pluck some of the watermelons a bit early. If you look at the bottom of the watermelon, there should be a creamy patch without much triping. The bigger and darker the patch is, the better.
2. Check out the color
Watermelons should be a darker green. Very light watermelons may not have ripened long enough on the vine. The watermen should have contrasting dark with lighter stripes.
3. Lift a few
Watermelon is primarily made of water. A watermelon that feels light for its size is probably dry, which won't taste good. A juicy, ripe watermelon will feel a little heavier than it looks. You may have to pick up a few for comparison.
4. Check the shape and shine
Watermelons should be oval and uniform. If the melon has bumps, lumps, and indentations, skip it. Even coloring and shape means the melon got enough sun and water to grow and ripen properly. Ripe watermelons shouldn't be shiny. The shine could indicate that the melon isn't quite ripe.
5. Say no to stem
If the melon still has a stem on it, move along. This means the melon didn't come off the vine easily so it wasn't quite ripe. You could look for a melon with a slightly indented end where the stem would be. This indicates that the melon fell off the vine on its own.
6. What about knocking?
Knocking on watermelons is a surprisingly divisive topic. According to What About Watermelon, knocking is pointless. You can knock and listen for a hollow sound, but you're going to get better results by looking at the color, shape and yellow spot.
White On Rice disagrees, saying that if you hold the watermelon like you're cradling a baby and give it a good thwap, you'll feel the vibrations in your bottom hand if the watermelon is right. I say give it a knock but look for the other signs too.
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