Watermelons always become the highlight of the summer season. Most of us always look forward to munching on some sweet, juicy and fleshy watermelon treats during the hot season.
Did you know? As part of the gourd family, this refreshingly sweet and fleshy watermelon is considered a vegetable! How so? Watermelon is a cousin to cucumbers, pumpkins, and squash. Basically, growing watermelons are treated like any other vegetable crop, from planting the seeds or seedlings, harvesting, and then clearing. In some parts of Asia, specifically in China, the watermelon’s outer rind is used for cooking in stir-fries and stews. In Russia and in the southern part of the United States of America, the watermelon rind is used in pickled dishes.
But wait! watermelon is botanically a fruit too! The fruit is harvested from a vine plant, and it is casually categorized as a type of melon even if it does not belong in the Cucumis genus. It is a fruit because its rind has a smooth exterior that comes with a sweet and juicy flesh on the inside.
Okay, so let us clear the air. Watermelon is a vegetable, but it is popularly and generally enjoyed as a fresh fruit.
It is truly exciting to buy watermelons. Sometimes, we tend to get carried away imagining eating all the sweet thirst-quenching fruit. Instead of buying one, we end up buying more! Anyone can relate to this, right? However, buying more than the quantity we need sometimes ends up to spoilage.
You may find yourself in a dilemma on how to take care of the rest of the watermelons. If you don’t do anything about it, you’ll just end up throwing them in the bin. That’s a waste of money! To avoid such food waste, this post will discuss how to properly store watermelons, how long it will last, and its signs of spoilage.
How to store watermelons?
Storing watermelons depends whether you have watermelons that are still ripening, ripened and uncut, or sliced ones.
So, let’s deal with these watermelons one by one:
Watermelons that are harvested unripe and subjected for ripening are placed in a pierced paper bag at room temperature for a few days. To accelerate the natural ripening process, insert an apple inside the paper bag, and let it stay until your watermelon ripens. If you don’t have some apples, try other ethylene-producing fruits like bananas, peaches, melons, and pears.
Ripe and unsliced watermelons.
Watermelons may appear hard and heavy, but they are actually perishable. Once you have a ripe watermelon, make sure to keep it away from other ethylene-producing fruits or vegetables to avoid it from getting overripe. Wash the watermelon first before putting it in the fridge. Ensure that the storage area where you are going to place the watermelon is also clean and dry.
Typically, if you want the best taste out of your watermelons, storing it as a whole is better than keeping them in slices.
Generally, in storing watermelon in your fridge, you have to place it at the farthest part where the temperature is colder and consistent rather than placing it near the door.
As big as they are, you would not need to slice everything. Instead, you prefer to eat the first half of the fruit and save the other half for later. We know that the seeds can sometimes be a little bothering, but you should not remove it out of the halved watermelon. Keeping the seeds will actually maintain its freshness. Next, wrap the other half of the watermelon with plastic and then keep it in the refrigerator.
Extra smaller slices of watermelons
After opening and enjoying a few slices of watermelon, you realized that you still have more to go. So, you decided that you want to keep it for later. You will need to wrap the slices in plastic, and just keep it in the fridge. Covering it with plastic will keep it moist and prevent the watermelon from absorbing other foods’ odors or flavors.
Does it go bad?
Yes. As mentioned earlier, watermelons are perishable. This is why you should put it in the fridge once you have opened it and sliced it. The longer you want to keep it, the colder your storage area should be.
Remember. Once a watermelon is cut open, it becomes potentially hazardous to any form of contamination. Leaving cut watermelon under the Temperature Danger Zone (TDZ) of between 41 and 135 degrees Fahrenheit encourages bacteria to multiply faster. Hence, You have to ensure you store it at a desirable storage and temperature conditions.
Can I freeze watermelon?
Yes, you can. However, there’s a BUT!
Whole watermelons do not actually freeze well. Freezing the watermelon will turn dark red, and it becomes too watery when you cut it open. Sometimes it will only leave you with only little to empty rind! This is why many prefer not to have it frozen.
If you just have more watermelons to keep, you can actually freeze it if you don’t want everything to spoil sooner than expected. Before tossing the watermelon in the freezer, do these things first:
- Slice the watermelons into cubes. You can remove the seeds and skin so that it can be ready-to-eat.
- Add 1/8 cup of sugar for every cup of fruit to help preserve it.
- Then, you will have to store the watermelon in an airtight container.
Once you have these watermelons thawed at room temperature, you will see that the flesh will soften. It may turn out that eating it won’t be as pleasing to your taste as eating it fresh. However, that doesn’t mean it has already gone bad, though. You can actually make watermelon smoothies or fruit soups out of it.
How long does it last?
Watermelon has a short shelf life. Your watermelon’s shelf life is affected by how it was stored before you purchased it and how you will be keeping it on your end. Other people buy either a whole watermelon while others prefer to buy those that have already been cut. Sliced watermelons are ordinary in big chain stores, and it comes in quarters, halves and whole.
The whole watermelon fruit can stay in the pantry for one week and up to 10 days to three weeks inside the fridge. Watermelon becomes more perishable once you cut it open. This is why it is best to eat all of it.
A sliced watermelon can stay fresh up to two hours at room temperature, or for the whole day at most, and can still safely eat it. But, if you happen to be living in a hot and humid area, typically in the tropics, you have to keep your watermelon in the fridge within one hour after slicing. In refrigerated conditions, sliced watermelons can last from 2-5 days in the refrigerator.
How to tell if it has gone bad?
You surely want to avoid foodborne illnesses, right? So always bear in mind to apply food safety practices so that you can enjoy the food you have before it spoils.
Watermelons are irresistible! You can’t help but love every bite. If you are going to buy some watermelons, you would want to get the freshest harvest, right?
Before you add the watermelon inside your grocery cart, make sure that it has a lovely symmetrical shape, feels heavy, and free from cuts and bruises. If you see some dark spots, that shows the possibility of mold contamination.
Your watermelons are ripe when the stem attached to the fruit dries out, and it should feel heavy for its size. Find for the yellow splotch, the part where it rests on the ground, check if it has ripened to a creamy yellow color. If that spot is still white, that means that it is still under-ripe, but if it is too yellow instead of a creamy color, it is most likely overripe, and the flesh would be grainy as well. Moreover, ripe watermelon should smell fragrant. Once confirmed that it has already ripened, you then slice it and enjoy its goodness. If not, you can keep it in the refrigerator.
When you cut it open, check for any signs of discoloration or slime in its flesh. If you suspect the watermelon’s flesh either looks mushy, smells fouls, tastes sour, or basically it doesn’t look fresh at all, just throw it away.
Storing your watermelon correctly will allow you to enjoy the freshness at its best, cut food costs, and minimize food wastes.