Summer came on fast and furiously here in the Washington, DC area — as it always does. And right on schedule, I found myself standing in the produce aisle on my weekly trip to the grocery store drooling over the watermelon stand. Nothing says summer like watermelon.

But here’s the funny part … when I was younger, I was so not into watermelon. It wasn’t until an early-September (and very hot and insanely humid) half marathon in 2013 when I was handed a piece of watermelon at the finish and thought to myself “my goodness, where has this deliciousness been all my life?” that I turned a corner. It was seriously like I had never had a watermelon prior to that moment.

Now, I crave watermelon pretty much all summer long but particularly after my longer runs. Some days, I swear, I’d eat a whole watermelon by myself if you left me alone long enough. So damn refreshing with tons of great benefits!

Part of the magic is in picking the right watermelon. And this is the part I’ve got down to a T.

How to Pick the Perfect Melon

In some ways, the trick is in looking for the not-so-pretty watermelons in the bunch. For example, you don’t want one that has a shiny surface. Look for a dull one with a creamy yellow (not white) field spot — this is the mark left where the watermelon was resting on the ground.

The surface should be firm with no irregular bumps, and there shouldn’t be a dull thud sound when you knock on it. Pick the heaviest melon for its size — a good indicator that you’ve got a juicy melon on your hands.

Watermelon, Watermelon Everywhere

Okay, so now you’re picked a good one. What should you do with it? I’ve totally got you covered there too. Here’s some of my favorite recipes to put that melon to good use. Enjoy!

Where my watermelon fans at? How do you like it — straight-up or in a delicious dish? —Alison

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