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Advice from the UGA Extension: Choosing a watermelon

There are certain times of year and holidays we all look forward to. In the early fall, we look forward to boiled peanuts, the fairs, and football; in the spring, peaches and baseball; winter, Christmas, Thanksgiving, and all of the yummy food; and during the summer, the beach, watermelon, and the Fourth of July. Whether you are sitting on the beach, at a baseball game, or at a Fourth of July celebration, watermelon can quickly change your mood, for the good or the bad. Selecting the right watermelon is critical for the overall taste of your fruit. Below are some helpful tips in selecting the best watermelon for your summer day.

1. Look at the tendril of the stem. If the tendril is completely dry, the watermelon is ripe.

2. Look for yellowing on the underside for the fruit. The more yellow the spot, the riper the watermelon is likely to be.

3. Listen to the “thump.” Thump the watermelon and if you hear a dull thump, chances are the watermelon is ripe.

4. Look at the shape. If the watermelon has odd bumps and curves, it can mean that it was grown with irregular amounts of water or sun resulting the different taste components to the watermelon.

5. Pick it up. The watermelon should be heavy for its size. Compare it to other watermelons in the store of that size. The heavier it is, the riper it should be.

6. Check out how firm the watermelon is. Your watermelon should not have soft spots and should be well-rounded.

Using these tips will help ensure that you have the best watermelon for your summer event. Need a recipe? UGA Extension FACS agents develop lots of healthy and fun watermelon recipes. You can find those on the UGA Extension Website. Here is one of our favorites for watermelon salsa:

• 2 c. watermelon

• 1 c. cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped

• 1/4 c. onion, red or white, chopped)

• 2 Tbsp. cilantro or mint, fresh, chopped (optional)

• 1 jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped, or hot sauce to taste

• 1/4 c. lime juice or lemon juice

• 1 Tbsp. sugar, white or brown

In a medium size bowl, stir together all ingredients. Taste and season with more lemon or lime juice, sugar if needed. Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes. Serve with grilled or broiled fish or chicken.

Whether you like to experiment with recipes, eat watermelon plain, or with salt (my personal favorite), using these tips in selecting a watermelon can make sure you have the best taste for your treats. For more questions, contact your local county extension agent at 478-237-1226.

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