How to Pick Perfectly Ripe Watermelons!

How to tell if your watermelon is ripe in 5 seconds! Knowing what to look for when picking a watermelon is crucial if you want a sweet, juicy fruit that's bursting with flavor! There are quite a few tips out there. But my number one, most important gauge for ripeness is demonstrated in this video. When you buy watermelons from the store or farmer's market you are relying on others to decide when a watermelon should be picked. And too many times... that results in a bland tasteless fruit. 🤢 Yuk!

That's why growing your own watermelons in the garden is so much better! You have complete control over when your fruits are harvested, allowing them to be properly ripened on the vine. And when the watermelon is still connected to the plant, you can check out the most crucial factor that takes all of the guesswork out of the process.

Video: When to Pick Perfectly Ripe Watermelons
Grown in the Garden
-Best Time to Harvest Every Time!

Growing your own watermelons gives you complete control over when your fruits are harvested!

How to pick ripe watermelons from the store:

When buying watermelons from a vendor, you're stuck using some rather subjective methods for determining ripeness. Some of the tips about watermelon selection are quite misleading.

    Here are a few common tips for how to pick a ripe watermelon:

  • STEM COLOR: Supposedly, the stem color can tell you if a watermelon is ripe. If the attachment point on the melon is dry and brown, this supposedly means the fruit is ripe. Don't go by this. Perfectly ripe watermelons can still have a beautiful bright green attachment point. The coloration of the stem point simply tells you how long ago the melon was picked. If a farmer goes out and picks the watermelon in the morning, the attachment point will still be vibrant green. On the other hand, that spot will be dried out and brown if the melon has been sitting in storage for days. This tells you the fruit is not freshly picked, but it does NOT tell you it is ripe and sweet.

  • THUMP: People love to tap and thump watermelons, listening for a hollow thump. But this tip is highly subjective and not very reliable as not all varieties make a soft "hollow" sound when knocked.

  • HEFT: If you have a stack of similarly sized watermelons, you can lift each and try to look for ones that feel heavier for their size. Having a scale would be a much more objective way to pick watermelons that are denser and full of juicy goodness.

  • WATERMELON COLOR: The darkness or brightness of a fruit does not help much with determining ripeness. Different varieties will have different colors. And foliage cover can cause a fruit to be lighter in color. Watermelons with full sun exposure may be more tanned, but that doesn't mean they are more or less ripe. Some people look at the sheen of the skin. If it looks less shiny and more dull, then this might be a sign of ripeness.

  • FIELD SPOT: Watermelons grown in the field will have a pale spot on the underside. This area was shaded from sunlight and never produced pigment in response. On a young, immature watermelon, that field spot will be bright white. But as the fruit ripens, the spot darkens a little into a creamy yellow color. So look for darker spots to find riper, sweeter watermelons. But what if there is no field spot??? That doesn't mean the watermelon isn't ripe. Rather, that indicates that the fruit received sunlight from all angles. The watermelon in my video is a perfect example of that! See if you can figure out why...

Do watermelons slip off of the vine?

There's a common misconception that a ripe watermelon should be able to effortlessly slip right off the vine where it attaches to the plant. Some growers wonder if the watermelon should come loose on its own. That's true with cantaloupes or muskmelons, but NOT watermelons. A watermelon fruit will stay firmly attached to the plant vine even once it is fully ripe. If you give it a firm tug, you may find that it comes free, but the vine often remains firm and green. Meanwhile, if the watermelon remains attached too long, it will overripen.

That's why you absolutely cannot rely on the stem or attachment point color to determine ripeness. Whether the stem is attached or detached makes no difference. And if the remaining stem or attachment point appears dry and brown, this merely indicates the watermelon has not been freshly picked. It may have been a while since it was attached to the plant. Perhaps it has been in storage for days, but that won't tell you anything about ripeness.

Do watermelons ripen off the vine?

Some fruits like bananas and tomatoes will happily continue to ripen even if picked green. But the same cannot be said for watermelons. Watermelons only ripen while they are attached to the actively growing plant vine. Once they are disconnected from the vine, watermelons do not continue to ripen.

So if you want a fully ripe, perfectly sweet watermelon, you need to pick the fruit when it is at its peak ripeness. To further complicate things, if the watermelons remains connected to the plant after reaching ripeness, it will begin to overripen. And overripe watermelon does not taste so good. The texture is completely off. So as a gardener, you need to know exactly what to look for. Fortunately, the trick to picking a perfectly ripe watermelon is very simple!

How to tell home grown watermelons are ripe:

Common questions folks have when growing watermelon is "When do I harvest my watermelon?" It's all about the tendril baby! A quick reliable way to tell if your watermelon is ripe. When you grow your own fruits and veggies you can determine exactly when to harvest. And with watermelons, that means you have direct access to the best determinant of ripeness: The curly tendril or pigtail opposite of where the fruit is attached to the vine will let you know.

If it's green, leave it be. When the fruit is still developing and ripening, the tendril will be bright green, matching the color of the rest of the vine. But once the fruit has matured, that tendril starts to turn brown and dry out. I always wait until the tendril is completely brown and dry. Then it's good to go! 😍 I might even wait a few additional days just to be sure. In fact, the variety "Sugar Baby" requires an extra 10 days from the point that the tendril turns brown before picking. Although this is an exception to the rule, you still need to watch that tendril to know!