Monday, July 30, 2012

Week of July 30 2012 : Thumper's Thumb

One of the stressful aspects of growing is harvesting the fruits and vegetables. Growing is hard work, but all the work could be for naught if harvesting is too early or too late.

Determining the ripeness of some vegetables, like tomatoes, is rather easy. Others, like watermelons, are not as easy.

Watermelons are often purchased to be enjoyed as a dessert after a special family meal. The moment when that watermelon is first cut in half is a very deciding moment. Will the family enjoy a crunchy, juicy melon bursting with flavor? Or let out a collective moan?

That is why deciding when to take a fruit or vegetable can be stressful. The stakes are high as no grower wants to sell a watermelon with the 2" thick rind and pale pink interior.

Conventional wisdom says to thump a watermelon and listen for a hollow sound to determine if it is ripe.

However, "hollow" is not a precise measure. There are many tones of hollow, and not all indicate that perfect combination of crunch and flavor. The thump test may be accurate enough for watermelons that ripen as they are long-haul shipped.

But more accuracy is expected from farm market watermelons purchased directly from the growers. So how do we determine the perfectly ripe melon?

Vine condition is a good indicator. The little shoot (formally called a tendril) directly opposite the stem, will begin to whither. When the tendril is completely withered to the healthy vine then the watermelon is well on it's way to ripeness.

Bottom color is another good indicator. The surface that contacts the ground should be yellow.

Perhaps the most accurate indicator are worms! When worms cozy up to that yellow spot, that watermelon is ready to be enjoyed!

No comments:

Post a Comment