Watermelon 101

Nothing says July like the cool, crisp taste of Texas watermelon, and your Central Market Produce department has an incredible selection. We work with small farmers statewide to bring in the best of old-time and modern varieties. Here’s a quick guide:

Black Diamond and Cannonball
This Texas classic, and its new seedless cousin, are some of the most sought after (and difficult to grow) varieties. Dense and extra juicy, these melons pack some of the most intense watermelon flavor. Black Diamonds have thick rinds that are perfect for watermelon rind pickles.

Charleston Gray (Seedless and Seeded)
The grandfather of most modern watermelon varieties, this “grey melon from Charleston” was responsible for bringing watermelon to homes throughout the United States. Its oblong shape and thick rind made it perfect to ship long distances, and its sweet flavor won many fans. Charlestons have a lighter flavor with a sweetness that sneaks up on you. These melons are best served ice cold.

Yellow Meat (Seedless and Seeded)
This variety is best for those who like their watermelon lightly flavored and extra sweet. Yellows are generally softer in texture with a bright, almost citrus flavor. Great for the kids or adding amazing color to your fruit salads.

Icebox Melons (Pure Heart and Crispy Critter varieties)
The new darling of the watermelon industry, these are the perfect watermelons for those who are intimidated by the challenges a 30-pound watermelon presents. Pure Heart (grown in Arizona) was the first big variety to market, and it’s consistently seedless and sweet. Crispy Critters are the next big thing developed in Texas for Texas farmers. Although they do contain the occasional seed, they were the top scorers for flavor in the 2006 Texas Statewide Watermelon Trials.

So how do you choose the perfect watermelon? Unfortunately, it’s more of an art than a science. A creamy or yellow belly (as opposed to white) and less contrast between stripes are good signs. Seasoned watermelon pickers thump the watermelon to hear how they sound, but this takes some practice. Watermelon will not get any sweeter off of the vine, but the flesh will mature and gain a bit of color. A higher pitched hollow sound (like knocking on a door) means that the watermelon will need to sit for a day or two. A dull thud (like thumping your chest) suggests the melon might be a bit past its prime. The goal is to find something in between.

Confused? One of our Produce Partners will be happy to help you pick out the best in the bin!

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