How To Tell If A Watermelon Is Ripe

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Watermelons are a sizable investment, and if the one you bring home isn’t ripe, you may have wasted your money.

To make sure that your watermelon is at peak flavor, there are several items to check when figuring out how to pick a ripe watermelon up at the grocery store.


Watermelons that are allowed to ripen on the ground will have a pale spot on one side where the watermelon sat flat on the dirt. As that spot received no sun, it couldn’t turn green. On a ripe watermelon, that spot will be a creamy yellow.


A ripe watermelon is a juicy watermelon. If you lift a watermelon at the market that’s surprisingly heavy, buy it! It’s loaded with juice and is likely ripe.


Thunking on a watermelon at your local grocery store can get you some odd looks, but it really does work.

When you knock on a watermelon, what you’re listening for is a hollow sound. This means the flesh is ripe and that juices are moving around inside the watermelon.

If the watermelon produces a flat “smack” when you thump on it, the flesh and juices inside are not at their sweetest and most fluid. Pick another melon.

When To Pick Watermelon

If you’ve got the space and the sunshine, watermelon can be exciting to grow. Be aware that these are big fruits and they take a lot of space.

If you don’t have the option to garden but get to pick your own watermelon, the spot under the watermelon is critical in determining when to pick watermelon. Make sure it’s yellow, vs pale green or white.

Do not roll the watermelon! You’ll risk breaking the stem.​

Another way to determine when to pick a watermelon is to check out the tendrils closest to the vine where it attaches to the fruit. If this tendril is brown and shriveled, the watermelon should be lifted so you can check the spot on the bottom.

Ripening Watermelon At Home

Does watermelon ripen off the vine like other melons? If you get a great deal and take home a melon you’re pretty sure is not yet ripe, take the following steps to sweeten the flesh:

  1. Do not refrigerate the melon. While further ripening is questionable, you can enjoy sweeter flesh and juices from a warm melon than a cool one.
  2. Wrap the melon in a large paper sack to keep any outgassing contained; this will impact the rind and can help sweeten the flesh.
  3. Once you’re committed and ready to cut the melon, be prepared to use it up within three to four days. Watermelon doesn’t store well.​

How To Store Watermelon

Watermelons are mostly water. Long-term storage will leave you with a mushy, unpleasant and rather soggy fruit.

Slicing and storing watermelon needs to be done quickly, and you should strive to enjoy your watermelon within three or four days so it doesn’t get mushy.

Final Thoughts

Fresh watermelon is a great treat on hot days. Choose a melon with a yellow spot on the bottom that feels heavier than it should. Finally, give it a thump or a flick of your fingers and listen for a hollow sound. Slice it at full ripeness, and enjoy!​

Written By Tara Williams

Tara is a food writer that has been editing and authoring articles for KitchenSanity since its founding. Her writing offers personal experience from experimentation with food and recipe creation. If you’re looking for simple tips, she will make your journey in the kitchen straightforward with a dash of fun.