One of the best investments I made this year wasn’t in stocks or bonds. It was buying a $1.89 pack of watermelon seeds from the hardware store.
I forgot to order watermelon seeds in my regular online seed order so, I bought them locally. They had only one pack of one variety left so I bought it. I mentioned these melons in previous posts.
This week I needed to harvest all of the watermelon since they were all ripe and ready to go.
That one pack yielded 32 full-sized watermelons! What do you do with 32 huge watermelons? After friends and family got their melons, there were still plenty left.
One thing I always wanted to try was dehydrating watermelons. That’s exactly what I did. About 2 – 1/2 watermelons — minus their rinds — fit into my food dehydrator. It took almost 20 hours to dry them down so they were no longer moist and sticky. I filled up four quart food storage bags with that batch.
The dehydration process concentrated the sweetness so much that they taste like some kind of exotic candy.
My dried watermelon will be a real treat this winter when the snow is flying. I still plan juice a few melons and try out watermelon wine with some others.
Are you picking watermelon yet? I picked my first one last week.
I’m always amazed by how little time it takes for a watermelon to grow from a tiny little fruit to full-size melon. They grow so fast that every morning the melons are visually bigger than the day before.
The moment of truth comes at harvest time. I always get a little nervous when deciding when to pick since you can’t look through a watermelon rind to see what’s inside. On the other hand, experienced melon growers and pickers need only a quick look at the outside of the rind to tell if a watermelon is ready to go. The rest of us need to rely on clues the plant give us.
The first thing everyone likes to do is take their knuckle and thump the watermelon to see how it sounds. If you thump an unripe melon and compare it with one ready to pick, you can hear a distinct difference in the sound. The green melons have a more ringing sound compared to a ripe melon. Thumping, while fun to do, is not always reliable because some varieties are ready to go before they change sound. A dull thump may mean your melon is over-ripe.
The appearance of the melon and vine can tell us a lot. As a watermelon starts to ripen, the underside, where it rests on the ground, will turn color from white to pale yellow. Also, the curly tendrils growing near the melon turn color too, from green to brown.
A few years back I was watching a watermelon grow all season. It was one of the smaller round varieties. I decided it needed one more day to ripen before picking. The next morning I went out to pick my melon. Everything looked fine until I picked it up — it was completely hollow. During the night a raccoon made a small, round hole in the side of my melon and reached in with its paw to scoop out the whole inside leaving just a shell. He must have been checking that melon every day too.
This year, there are plenty more watermelons in the garden that will ripen later in the season. We’ll have melons now until the end of the season.