ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to tell if a Watermelon is Really Ripe

Updated on September 25, 2011

Growing Up and Working on a Truck Farm

My wife and I can be walking in Costco or Safeway, and my wife will see a woman leaning over a bin of watermelons pondering which one to choose. It must be one of life's greatest puzzles, how to pick a really ripe watermelon. My wife will go over to her and ask, “Looking for a really good one?”

Almost always the woman will look up bewildered. And most of the time the response is “You thump them, don't you?”

I am immediately swept back to Spring Valley, in El Cajon, California to a 30 acre truck farm in the late 1950's. I am a gawky preteen, it is summer, and it is harvest time. This is one of the last vestiges of the reason for the summer vacations; children helping their parents bring in the harvest.

We didn't rely on the profits from the truck farm for our income. First of all a 30 acre truck farm wouldn't produce enough of anything except maybe marijuana to support a family of 7. My stepfather was a salesman for farm and landscape equipment and I guess he was pretty good at it. The farm was the result of the sale of a small bar and steakhouse my mother received in the divorce settlement from my real father.

Truck Farm? Thirty acres of bottom land. A creek ran through an area that was covered in trees and rocks that accounted for about seven acres. There was about twenty-two acres of farm-able land. No quaint farmhouse, no barn, two wells, and a road in for trucks. The primary crops of summer were corn, alfalfa, and melons. In the winter it was lettuce, all kinds of lettuce.

We lived in a ranch house about five miles away where we rented out corrals and stables to others who could afford the luxury of horses.

Fresh from the Field

A Seedless Watermelon
A Seedless Watermelon | Source

Working in the Fields

My summers were dedicated to hating working in the alfalfa field, the corn field and the melon field. To this day I cannot eat alfalfa sprouts, the smell brings back a sickening aroma of alfalfa multiplied by the heat and humidity of working in 90 degree summer days. Working the corn field was worse, because the heat and humidity are combined with corn pollen down my back between me and my t-shirt. The funny thing is I still love corn.

Working the melon field consisted of checking for pests, keeping the irrigation flowing, and getting the skunks out of the irrigation pipes. I suppose I liked working the melon fields. Before harvest it was fairly light work, and the melons didn't smell. Once flowers began to become melons, the primary job was to leave the melons alone, and make sure they got plenty of water without drowning them. I didn't have to harvest melons, because I was too small.

I only remember the farm foreman's name as Sam, he was an Indian native to Southern California, he knew the best stories and he was the only really good thing about that truck farm. He was an excellent farmer and knew when it was time to harvest. It was from him I learned the four secrets to picking a ripe watermelon.

Back to COSTCO

And this brings me back to the store and the woman thumping watermelons. Melons thump, and hallow doesn't mean anything. Four secrets is all anyone needs to pick out a good watermelon. Following the secrets will guarantee the melon is ripe, and ready to eat. It may not be the best melon in the bin, but if you are observant it will be mighty tasty.

Secret Number 1 - The Sweet Spot

The watermelon should have a sweet spot. That spot should be oval or round in shape and should be white, white-yellow, or yellow. The sweet spot should not be on the end where the vine was attached to the watermelon. The melon should be green, the deeper the better, but that depends on the variety and shouldn't be overemphasized. A well defined sweet spot means the watermelon was left alone. That is good because the vine was not moved or twisted so the flow of water and nutrients to the melon was not interrupted. That is why you don't want the sweet spot around the vines attachment, because that means the watermelon applied pressure to the vine as it sat on it, interrupting the flow of water and nutrients.

How Sweet it is

A Well Defined Sweet Spot
A Well Defined Sweet Spot

Smooth and Waxy?

The melon should have a waxy feel to the skin. This is the condition of a healthy melon. Lightly run you finger tips across the skin; it should leave a faint mark, as if you have removed a light layer of wax from the skin.

Finger Nails Can Verify the Waxy Feel
Finger Nails Can Verify the Waxy Feel

So Round, So Firm, So Fully Packed

The melon should be firm with no soft spots. Melons rot from within, and a soft spot on the skin is the first sign that a melon is over ripe, or have been mishandled. If it has a soft spot, put it back.

When You Want a Clean Break

The stem should show a clean break. If it is a clean break, the melon snapped from the vine and it is ready to eat. If there is evidence of a vine, then the melon was not ready to pick and it is not yet ripe.

An Innie or An Outy? An Innie

The Stem Snapped Off Clean
The Stem Snapped Off Clean

Beat Drums, Not Watermelon

Thumping is for drums, not watermelons. When I follow these four secrets, I always get a ripe melon. If I shirk on any of them, the melon may be okay, but it is not great. Summer is about over in the Northern Hemisphere, so if you want some melon, ribs and beans, now is the time as autumn creeps into our lives. For those of you in the Southern Hemisphere, now is the time to plant, and for Pete's sake, once the flowers on the melon vine began to disappear, leave them alone until they are ready to be harvested. If a melon is sitting on the vine, carefully shift the vine out from under it. Then leave it alone!

The woman at the bin, when she saw me again she smiled, “You were right.” she said


Now is the Time to Eat

It was a Really Good Watermelon
It was a Really Good Watermelon


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • gposchman profile imageAUTHOR

      Gene Poschman 

      7 years ago from San Francisco Bay Area

      Hi g,

      There should probably be a caveat that all the process promises is a ripe watermelon, but ripe is almost always really good. I am glad to here it worked for you, though not surprised, I have been using the method for over 50 years and it has always worked for me. Thanks for your comment.


    • profile image

      7 years ago

      nice it works


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)