Int'l Watermelon Day: Tips on how to pick the best watermelon

For choosing a flavorful watermelon, tips include what color to go for when picking out a watermelon, if size matters, and what conditions are best for keeping the coveted summer food.

Watermelon (photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
(photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
In honor of International Watermelon Day, which falls on Monday, the Agriculture Ministry has offered tips on how to pick out the coveted summer food.
There is no doubt that watermelon is one of the iconic symbols of the Israeli summer. Made up of 93% water, according to the ministry, it is the ultimate summer food. But how should one go about picking the best watermelon? 
For choosing a flavorful watermelon, tips include what color to go for when picking out a watermelon, if size matters, and what conditions are best for storage. 
However, the most important question has been answered: What sound should be heard when knocking on a watermelon?
In terms of color, the Agriculture Ministry notes that the watermelon should have a glossy hue. Faded color indicates prolonged storage that often impairs the quality of the fruit. 
Any watermelon connoisseur is familiar with the yellow stain on a watermelon, formed during the growing process as the watermelon rests on the ground. The watermelon should only have one yellow spot, the ministry advises, as more than that means the watermelon had prolonged exposure to the sun, impairing the watermelon's quality.
Perhaps a lesser-known strategy in identifying the perfect watermelon is to look at the stem of the watermelon as an indicator of how recently the watermelon was harvested. If the stem is green and fresh, it means the watermelon is fresh. However, if the stem is brown and dry, it means the watermelon was harvested several days before. 
Additionally, a watermelon should be as symmetrical and round or oval as possible. This round shape is indicative of a normal fruit development. 
Another tip the ministry gives is to touch the watermelon and feel how flexible it is. A good watermelon should be as solid as possible, whereas a soft watermelon means it has been stored for a prolonged period of time. 
Lastly, the Agriculture Ministry touches on the legend of knocking on or tapping the watermelon. Everyone has a particular someone in their lives who, when accompanying them to the grocery store or market heads straight to the fruit section, picks up a watermelon, and taps it despite glances from surrounding shoppers. The question "why" is almost always asked, sometimes accompanied with, "what is that famed sound that is supposed to be heard?"
"The legend of tapping a watermelon has become so widespread that most of do it without knowing what needs to be heard," said the ministry.
"When we tap a watermelon, we have to wait for a sound in return, an echo. The watermelon should respond to us with a clean sound," advised Shimshon Omer, Head of the Field Crops and Vegetables Department in the Agriculture Ministry. 
"It is recommended to tap on a number of watermelons, if you feel that there is no echo it means that the watermelon is too ripe and the taste is poor," he concluded.