This month is National Picnic Month and Family Vacations US is celebrating! Picnics are extremely popular all throughout the spring, summer, and fall but during the month of July you see picnics everywhere. One reason picnics are so popular in July is because a large number of families take their vacations in July. From a hot Fourth of July day in an urban park to a friendly national or state campground, a picnic is the perfect time to enjoy a light, fresh, and economical meal while enjoying the fresh air and great outdoors.
There are lots of foods that grace our picnic tables but few shout Americana louder than crisply chilled, freshly cut, inviting chunks of watermelon. Some of my best memories of those hot days of summer revolve around watermelons—the first luscious bite, sucking up the juice at the same time… the only way to eat a piece of good watermelon without getting it all over your shirt, or watermelon spitting contests, or the time my daughter mysteriously got a watermelon seed in her ear.
For those perfect memories you need the perfect watermelon. Do you know how to pick the perfect watermelon? Let us share some tips.
Big or small, the watermelon should feel heavy for its size. A watermelon is 92 percent water, so most of its weight is juice. If the melon doesn’t feel heavy for its size, it could be under ripe or dehydrated.
Tip #2 – Look it Over
You are looking for a firm, symmetrical melon free from bruises cuts, splits, or dents. The underside of the watermelon should have that large, creamy yellow spot. Watermelons develop a splotch where they rest on the ground while ripening in the sun. When this splotch is creamy yellow, it’s ripe. When you rub your fingers over the melon rind it should feel slightly bumpy. A very smooth surface can be an indication of a young, under ripe melon. The surface should be dull. A shiny appearance shows it hasn’t ripened yet. Look for that brown rough webbing watermelons often get. This is actually a form of scarring that begins when the flower that produces the fruit is pollinated by bees or other insects. The more it’s pollinated, the more it’s scarred (webbed), the more sugar in the melon, the sweeter it its.
Tip #3 – Give It a Thump
The age-old technique for judging the ripeness of a watermelon is thumping. To do this press your ear to the rind and rap it with your knuckles. You want to hear a deep, hollow “thud”. If the thump sounds “tight” or higher pitched, it’s probably an under ripe melon. You’ve got to thump a few watermelons to master the technique.
Tip #4 – Webbing
Look for that brown rough webbing watermelons often get. This is actually a form of scarring that begins when the flower that produces the fruit is pollinated by bees or other insects. The more it’s pollinated, the more it’s scarred (webbed), the more sugar in the melon, the sweeter it its.
Tip #5 – Seeds
90% of the watermelons in stores today are seedless. If you want the old time front porch or campsite fun of spittin’ seeds, you’ll have to seek out a seeded variety of melon. It seems like those varieties tend to be available a bit later in the season, so remember, good things come to those who wait … but until then, enjoy the seedless melons on every hot day of the summer.
I learned my love for watermelon my my Mother. She just loves watermelon. I’m sharing one of her favorite recipes for a cool summertime salad.
1 seedless watermelon, cut into cubes
3 baby cucumbers, seeded and cut into cubes
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 tablespoon lime juice, or more to taste
- ½ cup mint leaves, sliced thinly. Mix red onion with lime juice in a bowl; set aside to marinate at least 10 minutes. Stir olive oil into mixture.
- Toss watermelon, baby cucumbers, and feta cheese together in a large bowl. Sprinkle mint over the salad; toss.
(The original recipe calls for 1 small red onion, halved and sliced into thin half-moons. But I have picky-eater grandchildren so now I will put them on the side to be added if preferred.)
With the summer season in full swing, it’s that time of the year to grab your basket, get outside, and enjoy a picnic with family and friends! So during this warm July weather, slow down and find some time to have a family picnic with the people you love.
Make sure you pack your Frisbee or football to enjoy a fun game and work up an appetite! Life is too short!
For more fun picnic recipes try our post An American Fourth of July Staycation.