Bright red and mouthwateringly juicy, watermelon is a nutrient-dense fruit that makes a refreshing low-calorie snack (1Trusted Source).
When ripe, it provides a great source of natural antioxidants, including lycopene, which is linked to several health benefits, such as protection against heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer (1Trusted Source, 2Trusted Source, 3Trusted Source, 4Trusted Source, 5Trusted Source).
While the best way to know whether a watermelon is ripe is to taste or check its red flesh, this is generally only possible after you buy it.
If you don’t want to go for pre-cut products, picking a sweet and juicy watermelon based on its looks can be quite a challenge.
Here are 6 tips to help you take home a delicious watermelon.
Watermelons come in different sizes and shapes that vary from round to oval to elongated. They can all be a good choice.
Whichever you choose, stick to those with a firm and symmetrical shape, and avoid those with irregular bumps, dents, or cuts.
Irregularities may indicate that the watermelon received inconsistent amounts of water or was not pollinated properly. On the other hand, cuts or dents may point to the presence of insects or fungus (6).
A sweet and ripe watermelon should feel heavy for its size. This usually means that it’s full of water and therefore juicier.
In fact, water and fiber content seem to determine a healthy weight in fruits, including watermelon (7Trusted Source).
Watermelons are 91% water — a characteristic that explains its name. Eating water-rich foods like watermelon helps you achieve a greater feeling of fullness per serving while consuming fewer calories (8Trusted Source).
If you turn a watermelon upside down, you should find a yellow spot, which is also known as the field or ground spot.
This spot shows where the watermelon rested on the ground before being harvested.
A large, yellow spot indicates that it spent more time ripening on the vine and should be sweeter.
On the contrary, a whiter spot suggests that it was picked too soon and didn’t reach peak ripeness. Since watermelons don’t continue to ripen post-harvest, choosing a watermelon with a whiter spot means you will most likely end up with a plain-flavored one (6).
Another way to check the ripeness is by the sound a watermelon makes when you tap or slap it.
Though this method is subjective, it’s very popular among watermelon enthusiasts.
In fact, its popularity led researchers to develop a vibration analysis proven to help detect ripeness (9Trusted Source).
A ripe watermelon should have a deep sound when you thump it with your hand or fist, somewhat resembling a tenor. If it has a hollow or flat sound, it’s likely overripe (6).
Checking the firmness of a watermelon refers to the resistance of the rind or skin (6).
A ripe watermelon should have a thick rind that doesn’t give easily when pressured. The ones that do are generally overripe.
Also, if you scratch it with your thumbnail, you shouldn’t be able to cut through it.