How to Cut a Watermelon Perfectly Every Time

July, officially, means that summer is in full swing; sunshine, picnics, barbeques, fireworks and watermelon, sliced to order. If you score a deal on a watermelon but don’t know how to cut one, read on. A few simple tips make watermelon from good to great. We polled three food and recipe experts for their best tips on how to cut watermelon. The results? This is the best way to cut watermelon, according to professional taste buds. Enjoy your summer, Messy HERO, there’s a perfect-looking watermelon out there.

1. Drainage is Key “After cutting, place the cut watermelon in a colander to drain,” says culinary expert Allen Benton, president of Allen Benton’s Smokin’ Products, known for his legendary bacon. “Gravity and time take it care of the rest.”

2. Hot Water Is Perfect for Melb All Mel, CEO of the Juice Lab and green juice celebrity, says that a quick dip in hot water takes the edge off melon skin. Slice watermelon with a sharp knife and drain to remove excess water, like sweat.

3. Leave It to a Cutter “Scoop it out with a scoop,” says Mel Bauer, founder, main host and editor of Mel’s Kitchen Cafe, a popular food blog.

How to Cut a Watermelon

The perfect Snackers’ Venn Diagram for serving watermelon would be to cut it into clean wedges, sticks or cubes without the rind First, you’ll need a good sharp chef ’s knife and a large cutting board – either one with a moat (also known as a ‘trough’) that runs around the perimeter and wicks up the excess juice like a watermelon moat, or a board with gutter-like holes on the underside. Here’s how to do it to perfection.

Cut off the base and crown.

Wash the outside to get rid of any germs or contaminants. Next, slit off both ends from the top and the bottom with your sharp knife. Keep the crown and base cuts as straight as possible, because the angles will affect your next cuts.

Make curved cuts to remove the rind.

Then cut the watermelon in half through the middle, lengthwise.Now turn one of the halves on its side and, working again from top to bottom and in one sweeping curved cut, shave off the rind. Remove the rind from the whole, lengthy outside of the watermelon half, until only the fleshy pink interior remains.

Quarter, slice, and serve.

Keeping your watermelon upright on its flattened end, the next step is to cut it in half lengthwise. Just make a straight cut through the middle, from top to bottom. Next, flip the watermelon up onto its rounded side. Now set both halves skin-side down on the cutting board with the central part flat down.

After slicing this melon in half lengthwise (ie, you have a quartered watermelon), cut into slices. Behind it is a cross-section of a red watermelon filled with deep, dark red, sweet-tasting flesh and immature seeds.

Alternatively, measure it and cut it into sticks.

Want rounds or cubes? Now measure out an inch or so crosswise on a clean metal ruler and cut those, lengthwise, until you have rows of watermelon semi-circles; then tuck a ruler lengthwise, and measure out and cut an inch or so lengthwise to make sticks.

Cube your watermelon.

If you want a prettier look, keep going and do a set of watermelon cubes: turning each watermelon stick sideways and sweeping your knife over the next layer. If your melon is small enough, another option is to hold the top of the whole watermelon half together while slicing sideways.

How to Tell If a Watermelon Is Ripe

A few telltale signs can let you know whether or not your watermelon is ripe, stem-side up or not.

Ideally, says Yasmin Henley, author of the recipe site By The Forkful, you want to feel for the rind with your fingers. ‘Find the end of the watermelon that was not attached to the stem and press on it with your thumb completely. A melon that is not ripe will be completely hard in that place, an overripe one will be soft, and a perfect one will only bend a bit over your finger.’

Grace Vallo, the chef and food blogger behind Tastefully Grace, mentions two other easy ways to tell if a watermelon is ripe, whether you are shopping at a supermarket or visiting a farm stand. Vallo says the first tell is a large, light orange field spot, where the watermelon was sitting in the dirt during its growth. Next is webbing – if a watermelon has many brown lines cluster around it, then it should be sweet.

How to Store Watermelon

Storing a watermelon properly can help your fruit stay fresher and tastier for longer.

If you’re storing the watermelon whole, leave it at room temperature in a cool, dry place, advises Sonia Khosla, creator of the food recipe site Love Incredible Recipes. ‘Once cut, put the watermelon into an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to three days.

If you don’t expect to eat it within a few days, then slice (or dice) and freeze; frozen watermelon cubes can be tossed into a smoothie, sorbet, or gazpacho, or you can just serve them out of the freezer as finger food for hot summer days.

If you plan to eat only half, you can wrap the other half in plastic wrap to cut down exposure to air.

Best Things to Serve With Fresh Watermelon

The experts agree that it’s easy to get inventive with a wedge of watermelon – and that a contrasting flavour will give your recipes some unexpected heat.

For instance, Khosla recommends a watermelon salad that combines sweet and savory ingredients.

‘You can serve it with [crumbled] feta cheese, with fresh mint leaves, with lemon juice or lime juice – or sliced cucumber, sliced watermelon, plum, cherry or Roma tomatoes,’ Khosla says. Pairing watermelon with the right salty, savoury charcuterie meats such as prosciutto, according to Vallo, can bring out the fruit’s sweet, refreshing flavour.

Of course, you can get minimal the easy way, as well, by covering your cubed fruit with a melange of your favourite spices from your spice rack. ‘A dash of lime juice and a dusting of tajín, always! What else?’ Henley asks, referring to a salty-spicy-tart blend of mild chili peppers, lime and sea salt. ‘Chaat masala or cumin powder, roasted cumin gone dark brown, would be a good pairing for watermelon,’ Khosla says. ‘Also, lemon juice and black pepper, to give the final touch.

Conclusion

Eat it just out of hand, blended into a chilled gazpacho, tossed in a savoury salad or blended into your favourite green smoothie – it is hard to find a reason not to enjoy no-fuss, nutrient-rich watermelon this summer. And with these tips they don’t have to look hard to enjoy them, either. Make your cuts match your measures to keep your presentation on point. But a just-ripe melon paired with other tantalising flavours may disappear from the plate before any missteps are even noticed.

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