Never bring home an under- or overripe melon again

By Lisa Cericola
May 04, 2019

Unlike other types of summer fruit, you can't give a watermelon the sniff test to determine whether it's ripe and ready to eat. When it comes to watermelon, you have to use your eyes and ears instead. Whether you're buying watermelon from the grocery store, the farmers' market, or off the bed of a pick-up truck, look (and listen) for these signs of ripeness.

Green Stem

If the melon still has a bit of its stem attached at one end, make sure it is green and not dried out and brown. A hard, green stem is an indication that the watermelon was harvested recently.

Ground Spot

When a watermelon is ripe, you'll see a patch of white or yellow rind on its underside. This area is called the ground spot (or belly spot), because it's the part of the melon that touched the ground and wasn't exposed to sunlight as it grew. If you can't find the ground spot, it's likely that the melon was harvested too soon and didn't have a chance to fully ripen.

Smooth Skin

Give the rind a close inspection on all sides. Avoid watermelons with cuts and soft spots. It's okay if the rind on the top of the melon looks a bit faded—that is due to sun exposure, and another sign of ripeness.

Hollow Sound

Opinions vary as to whether you should thump a watermelon or not. Some say you should lightly rap your fist on the underside of the melon and listen for a hollow sound, which indicates that the melon is ready to eat.

Nice and Heavy

The easiest way to tell whether a watermelon is ripe is to simply pick it up. It should feel weighty in your hands, no matter its size.