Introduction: How to Select and Butcher a Watermelon
Ever since I was a kid, watermelon has be my, hands down, favorite fruit. When you get a good one with the perfect crunch and deep red sweetness it can be very hard to stop eating. On the other hand, I have picked up a few that we not worth the effort of carrying them home. During the summer I usually go through about two watermelons a week on my own so I have developed a few tricks for picking a good one as well as good method for easily cutting them up that wastes as little of the good stuff as possible.
Step 1: Selecting Your Watermelon
Although there are some people who will swear that they can select a great watermelon by holding it to their ear and tapping, I have never found this approach very reliable. However, there are a few tell tale signs to look for when picking one out. First of all the color should be a dark green will at dull, not shiny, surface. Also, it should be mostly symmetric. These factors indicate that the fruit was grown in steady sunlight with regular watering and was allowed to approach ripeness on the vine. The next thing to look for is the spot where it laid on the ground. This spot should be yellow are a yellow/white color. The example I have shown is not quite ideal but it was an early summer harvest so I take what I can get.
Step 2: Butchering the Watermelon
Once you have your watermelon selected and are ready to eat it the first step is to rinse off the outside under running water. This will get rid of any residual dirt or crud that may be left on the outer surface. Even if you will just be throwing away your rinds this is important because the rind will still be rolling all the cutting board where you will be doing your cutting so it's best to clean it off.
With the melon clean, place in on your cutting board and get out a sharp knife. You will want at least a 6" blade but I always go with my 8" chefs knife. I like to cut the melon into fingers so that they are easy to put in lunches or just eat by hand for a snack. To do this:
1) Slice off the ends of the melon where the vine was and then do the same on the opposite side as shown in the first picture.
2) Cut the melon in half along the striped direction.
3) Cut each of these halves in half again, also along the striped direction. At this point you should have four equivalent quarters.
4) Cut each quarter in half perpendicular to the direction of the previous two steps. This will give you eight equivalent chunks.
5) Take one of the chunks and arrange it on your board such that the rind is vertical. Cut from the top of the chunk down to the board right along where the red meat of the melon interfaces with the white rind. This should take two cuts for each chunk. If you left from white on your meat, trim this off.
6) Slice the resulting chunk of melon meat 3-4 times from the top down.
7) Rotate the chunk by 90 degrees and make another 3-4 cuts. This will give you prismatic pieces of watermelon.
8) Toss your butchered watermelon into the pan and repeat steps 5-7 on the remaining seven chunks.
When you are done you can dig in or cover the pan with plastic wrap to keep the fruit fresh. If you would prefer bit sized chunks just turn the chunk on its side after step 7 and make another 3-4 cuts. Enjoy!