Friday, July 4, 2014

Never Buy an Outie!

...or How to Choose a Watermelon
Meet Cian, he is my nephew who lives in Ireland and is like 6'3" now. Here he is our Franklin County at a watermelon eating contest one summer!
1. Pick It Up: Big or small, the watermelon should feel heavy for its size. Lift it up – The ripest watermelons have the most water. And since watermelons are 92 percent water, your watermelon should be relatively heavy for its size.

2. Look for the Yellow Spot: Watermelons develop a yellow spot where they rest on the ground ripening. When this splotch is creamy yellow, it's ripe, this means it has been ripening on the vine for a long time, not in the grocery store! This is called a "field spot"

3. Give It a Thump: Tap the underbelly of the watermelon. A ripe one will have a deep hollow sound. Under-ripe or over-ripe melons will sound dull. The knocking technique can be a little hard to master, but many watermelon fans swear by it. Give the watermelon a firm rap with your knuckles and listen to the sound it makes. For a ripe melon, you want a full sound, more tenor than base. You do not want a dull or deep sound, as this means the watermelon is unripe. Some say a ripe watermelon should produce a B-flat sound. 

4. Never buy an outie: If you ever find a watermelon with with a little crater on the end instead of a stem, it will be sweeter. This is because it fell off the vine on its own, rather than being plucked off before it was fully ripened. So, look for an "innie" instead of an "outie".

5. Remember plugging a watermelon? Ask your produce person if they will allow this, at a farmer's market you may find this still happening today. If you don't know what this is, a small cork cut can be made to see if the melon is a good one. If it is you put the cork piece back in and buy it. It won't hurt the melon and you can even leave it in there for a day or so.

or in my Dad's case "GO AHEAD AND SALT ME BRO" 
Many of the old-timers will salt their watermelon. They will tell you it brings out the flavor. Different strokes for different folks. Just give me a sharp knife and a watermelon and I will survive!

There are too many ways to cut a watermelon to say one way is the best, but discussing it today with Tony, whatever you do, cut the thing and let everyone enjoy it! We know someone who would cut a small sliver for each person, it was not on! If it is a really good melon, cut the whole dang thing and eat it til your sides are ready to explode!

Buy them seedless? Whatever. Yes that is sarcasm right there. You know, oh how you know that you will never find as good a watermelon as a seeded one, the bigger the better! As Dad is fond of calling them "Rattlesnakes" a big ol' rattlesnake watermelon will always out-rank any small seedless nancy-boy-melon. Yes, I know, it fits in the fridge better. I know all the excuses. But you know you can always make room, go ahead and see if I am right! 

A good watermelon deserves the right-of-way in you refrigerator.

Definition from a Google search: A longtime Southern favorite, thought to have been developed in Georgia in the 1830's. Its stripes resemble those of a Rattlesnake, hence the name. Sweet, light crimson-colored flesh and large size. Used as a shipping melon; a great old variety. (avg size is 25 lbs)

One of my favorite memories is going to choose a watermelon with Grandpa Coffman. Grandpa originally from Arkansas as a child and moved West with the rest of the migrants in the dirty-thirties due to the great dust bowl... His family farmed the very fertile San Joaquin valley, he actually played with John Steinbeck's nephew. He was agricultural, I think I just created a new name for country-fried, up there they called them Okies. Anyway, he and I would go and pick them out and he always used the thumping method. We did this on a few occasions, and I remember standing amidst hundreds of melons fresh from the field and Grandpa doing his magic to pick out a good-un!  

Then going home and chilling it for hours before we could even dig into it. A watermelon HAS to be cold.

Now that summer is almost here, I am sure Grandpa is up in Heaven right now telling Jesus how to pick out a good watermelon!

No one is watching, just do it! You know you have to see who can spit them the furthest. This is something kids are allowed to do, it is a childhood delight.

"The worst thing we ever did in this country was to take the seeds out of watermelon!" - Innkeeper Shellie

You can have it your way at Burger King, processed rubbish is easy to come by, but keep on eating seeded watermelons. Support local farmers. Know where your food comes from. 

Weird and Random Advice from your innkeeper at The Claiborne House B&B in Rocky Mount, VA

PS If it runs down your chin, then you know it is a good watermelon. Just ask Cian.