Watermelon is the quintessential summer fruit, offering a sweet flavor and juicy texture that’s perfect for cooling off. However, like most fruits and veggies, it has a limited window for peak freshness. At some point, the melon’s sweetness and texture may start to degrade, and it can eventually become slimy and bad-smelling. If you spot these warning signs, it’s time to toss the melon.
Luckily, there are a few easy ways to tell whether a whole or pre-cut watermelon has gone bad. The easiest way is to check its field spot (the area where it rested on the ground as it grew). If it’s yellow, amber, or buttery in color, it means the watermelon was left on the vine too long and wasn’t ripe enough when it was picked.
Another simple test is to knock on the watermelon with your knuckles to see if it sounds hollow. A ripe watermelon will make a plump, high-pitched sound, while an unripe one will give off a dull, low thud. This test doesn’t always work for melons with thick rinds, but it can be helpful if you are buying a cut melon in the store.
You can also sniff the watermelon to assess its quality. A ripe watermelon should have a sweet, light aroma. If it begins to smell sour or rancid, that’s a clear sign that the watermelon is going bad and should be thrown out. This sniff test can be used to assess the freshness of other types of melons, including honeydew and cantaloupe.