Watermelon. A true summer treat!
I love it and I am so pleased that my five-year-old grandson loves it as much as I do. If fact, we now make sure watermelon is a part of almost every meal when he visits. Like most people, we both prefer a watermelon that is very fresh, sweet, and ripe. We both want melon flesh to be so juicy that it leaks with every bite, rolling down one’s lip and over the chin. Perfect photo ops of grandchildren and grandparents alike!
This puts a lot of pressure on me to pick out a great watermelon (and everyone know what I mean by great)!
In the supermarket, my wife patiently waits for me as I stare at the heap of watermelons, eyeing our options and deciding which one of them holds the sweet, tender, juicy goodness hidden behind that green watermelon rind.
I have attempted all the” secrets”. Short of a Harry Potter Sorting Hat, how does one select the best watermelon option? Somehow, I need watermelon wisdom.
I have thumped them trying to figure out if that was a hollow sound of ripeness or a higher sound of greenness. Yeah, they all sound hollow and ripe to me.
I have inspected the watermelons for their “field spots” where the fruit laid on the ground. Allegedly, the whiter the field spot is, the less flavor the watermelon has so I need to find a yellow-colored spot on the melon. It would be help if the grocery store provided field spot color cards similar to paint chips color cards offered by the hardware store.
I check out the watermelon’s stem for dryness. I’ve heard a green stem may signify that the watermelon was not quite ripe when picked, lacking in desired sweetness flavor. They are all green to me.
Was there something about the stripes of the fruit being important? The deeply colored rind with a more uniform pattern being significant? Of course, I don’t remember the significance and hey, what about the watermelons that are a single deep green dull color with no stripes?
I’ve read that some people attest that a riper watermelon will feel heavier than it looks, being denser and higher in water content resulting in a sweeter riper fruit. That’s when a patient wife really comes in handy as I ask her to start picking up the various watermelon options for weight analyzation.
Knowing my grandson will judge the result, the pressure builds with my selection batting average hovering at around .500. The epic fails are what we remember.
Having no ripeness detection skill, I finally just pick one, knowing that buying an “in-season” watermelon in August/September is the most failsafe.
At the kitchen table, butcher knife in hand, that first cut carries with it Grandpa’s hopes, dreams, and potential hero status… please let the watermelon be juicy!
As a kid, watermelon provided me great opportunities to spit without hearing a lecture from Mom, Dad, and other adults. Great seed spitting competitions with my siblings and cousins spontaneously erupted. My winning technique was to create strong but controlled wind velocity with a focused exhale followed by a nudge of the watermelon seed with my tongue into the slipstream. A powerful launch was sometimes the result. Very scientific. Distance was good but I found that accuracy was more important when engaged in seed wars against family.
Today, watermelon seeds are becoming a thing of the past as they are “bred out” of many watermelon hybrids, creating seedless varieties. Probably, a bunch of parents got together and said, “We’ve got to stop this spitting once and for all!” It certainly makes the consumption more convenient.
However, the seedless watermelon makes it more difficult for this grandpa to be “cool” by teaching a grandson certain life skills…the art of watermelon spitting. So much wisdom for me to pass on.
FarmWeek, the weekly publication provided to Farmer members, recently published an article by Ben Croft about Sarah Pratt who annually carves the butter cow for the Illinois State Fair (and other butter creations across the country). I found it fascinating that someone has the creativity and ability to create a life-size cow from 500 pounds of butter.
I have questions!
How does one get into the butter carving/molding business?
More importantly, what does one do with a 500-pound stick of butter at the end of the event? Does everyone receive a roll of snack crackers for butter dipping upon the Fair’s adjournment? Perhaps a giant enormous corn boil? How about a huge lobster bake? Provide butter cookies for everyone in the state? I love popcorn!
I was a bit disappointed to learn, according to the article, the same butter is recycled and used year after year. Where do you store 500 pounds of butter in the off-season? One big tub or 500 little ones? Does the butter go “bad”?
FarmWeekNow photo: The Pratt family, from left to right, Hannah, Dean, Sarah, Andy. and Grace with a past state fair butter cow sculpture. (Photo courtesy of Sarah Pratt)