Thursday, August 19, 2010

Watermelon Done Right: De-Seed Like a Pro

Watermelon Done Right: De-Seed Like a Pro

Watermelon is a passionate, deeply luscious fruit that demands to be treated like the lady she is. Here, in my opinion and experience, is THE Best Way to Prepare, De-Seed, and Serve the Queen of Fruit, Watermelon.

Step 1: Prepare Your Work Area

Find a counter in your kitchen and gather some essentials:

  • Cutting Board
  • Large Knife
  • 1 Small Bowl (for seeds and scrapings)
  • 1 Large Bowl (for de-seeded "fillets" of wonderfully sweet watermelon)
  • 1 Garbage can (not shown in photo, but essential for discarding the rind)
  • 1 Ripe, SEEDED watermelon

Seeded watermelon tastes much, much better than the seedless varieties. Tap the watermelon and listen for a pleasant hollow drum sound, rather than a dull thud.

Watermelons grown in my hometown, Hermiston, Oregon, are world famous for being the sweetest, but I'm willing to associate with anyone who loves watermelon - from wherever!

Hold Your Horses!

Did you say, DISCARD THE RIND???

My friend, Karen, has deliciously described the delectable pleasure simply named, Pickled Watermelon Rinds . I am anxiously awaiting the recipe, and I hope never to carelessly, thoughtlessly, discard my rinds again.

I'm going to make pickles!

So, with that up-to-the-minute-update, on we go to Watermelon Done Right!

Step 2: First Slice

Slice off one end of the watermelon, bloom-end or stem-end, either one. Consider the slice you cut off as a shallow bowl of watermelon. Don't be too stingy, but don't go overboard, either. The "bowl" will be enjoyed later by your kids (or you!), using a spoon and spitting out the seeds in the traditional manner.

Step 3: Second Cut

Spin the watermelon end-for-end and slice off another shallow "bowl". Remember that the green rind, and the white, dense flesh is basically inedible - it's not sweet at all, so try to get a nice, deep red portion of the sweet part included in your bowls.

Remember that fresh watermelon rind is inedible, but PICKLED WATERMELON RINDS are delectable!

Step 4: Remove The Rind

Up-end your watermelon and slide downward, following the contour of the melon, removing one section of the rind. It's critical that you strike a balance between removing all the white rind, and leaving as much of the sweet, red flesh of the watermelon. After the first section of rind is sliced off, you'll be able to see clearly the margin which you can follow for the remaining cuts.

Step 5: Continue To Remove The Rind

Continue around the melon, removing the rind slice-by-slice. Each slice should be about two-to-three inches wide, removing all the white rind, but leaving as much sweet, red flesh as possible. Remember, NONE of the white rind is sweet - it is quite bitter.

Step 6: The Rind Is Gone! (Save for Pickling!)

At last, we have a beautifully nude watermelon!

Notice the stray bit of white rind showing at the bottom of this model. I removed it after taking the photo - you should leave none of the white rind, not even a bit - it is too bitter!

Step 7: Consider Dividing And Conquering

For larger watermelon, as this one was, I like to divide the melon in half, horizontally. It seems to make it a bit easier to handle before starting the next step.

However, it's not always necessary. Try a couple of melons - one whole, and one divided in half horizontally. Healthy nutrition requires a daily serving of watermelon, in my utopian world, so you likely will enjoy many opportunities to experiment and hone your watermelon slicing skills.

Step 8: Slice Vertically!

Now, slice the watermelon just as you would a loaf of bread. Keep the watermelon oriented vertically, with the flat cut-off ends remaining on the top and bottom. For a larger watermelon, as this one was, I like to cut it in half horizontally, but I must still remember to slice vertically.

I forgot to show you an important tool I use. Many years ago, my wife obtained a plastic Tupperware utensil that has proven itself perfect for de-seeding watermelon. We believe it originally was designed as a lettuce corer. It's about six inches long, with a curved, serrated tip. It fits the hand comfortably, and the serrated tip allows easy scraping of the seeds away from the flesh.

However, a spoon works fine, also.

Step 9: Breaking Along The Seed-Line

Now, pick up one slice, holding it with both hands, and break gently. The fracture will probably follow along the seed-line, for the most part. Most slices will require at least two separate instances of breaking. This breaking is not precise - it just opens up the main deposits of seeds, making it easier to scrape them away. For this slice, I broke it twice, dropping all three sections into the seed bowl. Grab a spoon, or a lettuce corer, and scrape along the seed-line, removing all the seeds.

Step 10: Scrape Away The Seeds

Scrape away every seed. Again, this is a balance, or a compromise, between removing the seeds and leaving the sweet, red flesh of the melon. I scrape only as deeply as I need to remove every seed. Sometimes I spy hidden seeds, seeing just the gray suggestion of where they might lie, just below the surface. I ruthlessly root them out. The tasty flesh that you scrape away is not lost, even as it drops into the seed bowl. At the end of the process, you will mash the leftover scraps, seeds and all, through a sieve or collander, rendering a glassful of sweet watermelon juice.

I do not worry about the white, infertile seeds. They are soft, without taste, and I eat them happily as I enjoy my watermelon. It is only the hard, black seeds that we must contend with. Be diligent! Your reputation as a Server of Watermelon demands that not a single hard, black seed detract from your guests' eating pleasure!

Step 11: Pure, Seedless Delight

As each chunk of watermelon emerges clean, free of any hard, black seeds, drop it into the larger bowl. The bowl will fill with delectable chunks of sweet, juicy red fillets of watermelon, ready to eat.

Be watching for the center slices, the "heart" of the watermelon. It is solid, completely free of any seed-lines, hiding no lurking seeds. It is the sweetest, purest part of the watermelon. At the first opportunity, break off a bit of the heart of the melon, just bite-sized, and offer it to your beloved. It is truly the fruit of love!

Step 12: Making Watermelon Juice

With the large bowl of watermelon chilling in the refrigerator, we can now make use of the leftover scraps in the seed bowl. Place sieve or collander over a third bowl. The photo here shows my orange seed bowl with a ladle. I've scooped out a bit of leftover watermelon scraps, seeds and all, and placed it into my yellow plastic sieve, which is inside a pink bowl - my juice bowl.

Step 13: Do The Mash - The Watermelon Mash!

Use a potato masher, or the like, to mash the leftover scrap pieces of watermelon. The object is to press the juice out of the watermelon and through the small holes in the sieve or collander. Ignore the seeds, white or black. They will not pass through the strainer, and the potato masher will not break them up, nor does it need to break the seeds up.

Step 14: Ambrosia?

Mash up all the leftover scraps of watermelon and discard the remaining seeds and pulp (or toss on to a compost pile). Pour the watermelon juice into a tall glass, add ice, and enjoy!

Look closely at the photograph - those are not ordinary ice cubes! They are cubes of frozen, pure watermelon juice.


Step 15: For The Kids (And The Young At Heart)

Share with the children, or your friends (or hog it all for yourself!) the watermelon bowls you cut from the ends of the melon at the very beginning. The few seeds that you find and must spit out make the sweet, red flesh that much more tasty!