Can You Ripen A Store-Bought Watermelon That Isn't Ready Yet?

hands holding cut watermelon
hands holding cut watermelon - National Watermelon Promotion Board

If you find yourself with unripe tomatoes or avocados on hand, all you need to do is be patient and they'll soften up in time. There are also various tips and tricks to help speed up the ripening process that often involve putting the produce in a paper bag. With watermelon, however, this isn't going to work. Not just because you'd need an extra-large bag, but also because watermelons simply don't ripen once they've been picked. According to Rachel Syngo, chief marketing officer of the National Watermelon Promotion Board, "We harvest, pack, and ship out watermelons with a 48-hour window, and that is as ripe as that watermelon will get."

Syngo, however, shared a tip with us that will help you avoid purchasing an unripe melon in the first place. "Watermelons have a tell-tale sign of ripeness that consumers can look for," she explains, describing it as a "yellow belly." This is the spot where the watermelon contacted the ground as it grew. Once the melon is ripe, the spot will be the color of butter or an even darker yellow. You can also use the two-finger trick for picking out ripe watermelon every time -- this involves checking to see that the stripes on a melon are two fingers apart.

Read more: Mistakes You're Making With Your Corn On The Cob

What Can You Do With An Unripe Watermelon?

hands cutting watermelon rind
hands cutting watermelon rind - National Watermelon Promotion Board

If the watermelon selection tips come a bit too late and you find yourself in possession of an unripe melon, all is not lost. There are still a number of things you can do to repurpose the melon, even if it isn't quite as sweet as you might have been hoping. If you would still like to eat the watermelon on its own, you can always try sprinkling it with a little salt. Ironically enough, salt actually helps to enhance the sweetness of an unripe melon by providing a contrasting flavor. Other ways you can liven up the rather blah taste of such a melon are to squeeze some lemon or lime juice on that thing or sprinkle it with Tajin. In the latter instance, you get salt, citrus, and chile all in one.

Unripe watermelon can also be put to good use in smoothies, salsas, watermelon daiquiris, or any other recipe where there will be a sufficient number of additional ingredients to compensate for its lack of flavor. Nor will the watermelon's ripeness significantly impact the rind, so you can always use it for pickling. In fact, some pickled watermelon recipes call for both flesh and rind, so that way none of your unripe watermelon need go to waste.

Read the original article on Mashed.