A sweet slice of summer: It’s the season for watermelon

by Tallahassee Table
Farmers offer tips for picking out the fruit and some fun serving ideas

July is National Watermelon Month, so what better time to dive into summer’s sweet treat. Biting into a juicy slice of melon is one of the best joys of the season. Chances are, you’ll be serving watermelon with your hot dogs and hamburgers on July 4 or any other backyard picnic.

Eating a watermelon is easy. Picking up a delicious one is harder.

Create a colorful fruit salad with these orange, yellow and red watermelons from K&R Hidden Farms. Photo credit / K&R Hidden Farms

Katherine and Rodney Quick have been growing watermelons on their K&R Hidden Farms in Tallahassee for about eight years. They grow red, yellow and orange Jubilee hybrids.

“It’s taken us years to find the varieties we’re growing currently,” said Katherine, also a high school English teacher. “This becomes my main job in the summer.”

Some tips from the Quicks, the National Watermelon Promotion Board and other produce pros:

Look at the watermelon and make sure it’s symmetrical and free of bruises or soft spot. It should feel heavy, which usually means it has more water content – a ripe watermelon is 92 percent water.

Check for a buttery yellow spot on the bottom where the melon has been sitting in the field, ripening in the sun. If the spot is white, it’s a sign the fruit isn’t quite ripe..

Some people swear by this method: Give the watermelon a flick with your fingers or a knock with your knuckles. The echo should sound more hollow.

A watermelon with more water has had enough time to develop the sugar content in a perfect watermelon, Katherine said. “It will have the sweeter, juicier flavor that everyone loves.”

All these signs should help you find the perfect summer watermelon but Rodney cautions that  “in all honesty, you can go by the telltales and it may still not be right.”

If you buy a watermelon from a farm or farmer’s market, that will take out most of the head-scratching process. Farmers are not going to rush Mother Nature. 

The Quicks and some other farmers sell their produce on the Red Hills Online Market or at our local farmers’ markets.  Here’s a link to our Tallahassee Table guide to the markets and guide to the markets and information about signing up for the online service: https://www.tallahasseetable.com/tallahassees-farmers-markets/

Aside from just savoring this slice of summer, you can find a lot of uses for watermelon. “Use your imagination,” Katherine said. Some ideas:

Watermelon scoops brighten any meal. Photo / Tallahassee Table

Create a colorful fruit salad or red, white and blue charcuterie board. 

“You can serve watermelon with feta, make watermelon popsicles or drink it as it is,” said Katherine.  

FYI, I was lazy and I found ice pops already made from seedless red, orange and yellow melons on the online market from Sweet River Farms. 

Freeze watermelon juice for refreshing popsicles. Photo credit / Fresh from Florida

Concoct watermelon cocktails – here’s a recipe from watermelon.org for a watermelon Moscow mule 

Use grated watermelon rind to make a refreshing coleslaw.

Fresh from Florida offers this recipe for a watermelon and mozzarella salad: https://www.followfreshfromflorida.com/recipes/florida-watermelon-and-mozzarella-salad

A version of this article ran in https://thetallahassee100.com/

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