The best time to indulge in this succulent, fresh, juicy fruit (apparently it’s part vegetable and part fruit), is summertime when they are in season. Watermelon is not only delicious but also contains antioxidants, like carotene, riboflavin, ascorbic acid, thiamine, niacin, and lycopene.

The lycopene in watermelon is particularly important for our cardiovascular health and is now being acknowledged as an important factor in promoting bone health. Compared to a large fresh tomato, one cup of watermelon has 1.5 times the lycopene (6 mg in watermelon compared to 4 mg in a tomato).

Additionally, watermelons have an alkaline-forming effect on the body when fully ripe. Consuming lots of alkaline-forming foods (ripe, fresh, fruits and vegetables) can help reduce your risk of developing illness and disease caused by a high-acid diet (meat, eggs, and dairy products).

It’s pretty difficult to tell if a watermelon is ripe by just looking; it must be examined. There’s really no way to perfectly guarantee a good watermelon, but over the years, I’ve learned a few tricks and tips for picking out a ripe watermelon and I wanted to make sure you knew what they were so you could use them too.

Here are 8 tips on how to pick a juicy, good, sweet and ripe watermelon:

#1 Make sure you’re buying the watermelon in season

Watermelons are available from May to September, though they’re at their peak from mid-June to late August.

#2 Inspect the color

Choose the watermelon that has more yellow showing as it’s likely to be older and sweeter. But remember to compare it to the other watermelons around it – if it’s much yellower than all the other melons, it may be overripe. Also, a shiny watermelon will usually be under ripe.

#3 Shape

While you’ve got the watermelon in your arms, make sure it’s uniformly shaped, which shows that it got the perfect amount of sunshine and water. Irregular bumps indicate it may have gotten inconsistent amounts of sun or water.

#4 Listen to the sound

Although many people rely on the old thumping test as an indicator of ripeness, it is subjective and imprecise, but experience allows some people to use it very effectively.

Position the watermelon two inches from your ear. When you thump, if the watermelon sounds hollow, it is usually ripe. The unripe watermelon will have more of a thud-like sound. The thumping technique is not a guarantee because the hollow sound (which indicates ripeness) can also be heard when the fruit is overripe. Many experts have likened watermelon thumping to kicking the tires on a car. “It makes you feel good when you do it, but you don’t really know what it will accomplish.”

#5 A dark stem

When the fruit is ready to pick, the stem will begin to naturally dry up and turn dark. If it is picked while the stem is still fresh and green, it will be bland. If the melon you are purchasing doesn’t have a stem, just check the ends. One of them should have a dark spot where the stem was. If this spot is still light, leave it alone.

#6 Find the field spot

The underside of the melon where it hits the ground should be buttery to dark yellow. The darker the color of the creamy spot, the longer it was on the vine sweetening up. If it is white (or not even there), put it back, because this indicates an underripe fruit.

#7 Bee stings and white scars

These little marks show that it’s sweet enough that even the bees were trying to get to the inside. The stings look like brown dots or lines on the melon.

#8 Heavy is best

The riper the melon, the more water it has, and the more water it has, the heavier it is.

Important note

Before cutting the melon be sure to wash it with a brush under running water. Why? Because most melons are grown on the ground. So, when melon rinds are cut, knife blades can pick up pesticides, bacteria, and herbicides on the surface of melons, then contaminate the flesh inside. Also, make sure that the knives and cutting boards you use are also clean.

The best way to store a watermelon

Keep whole melons at room temperature for up to two weeks. ”Watermelons stored at room temperature deliver more nutrients than refrigerated or freshly picked melons. Scientists tested a few popular varieties of watermelon stored for 14 days at 70 F, 55 F and 41 F. Whole melons stored at 70 degrees Fahrenheit, which is about room temperature in air-conditioned buildings, had considerably more nutrients.

Compared with freshly picked fruit, watermelon stored at 70 F gained up to 50% to 139% extra beta-carotene and 40% more lycopene, which the body converts to vitamin A. Watermelons continue to produce these important nutrients after they are picked and that chilling slows this process.” – Ray Sahelian, M.D