Watermelons are at their best in summer, which is why they’re a staple at backyard barbecues. A bland, mealy melon, though, does not complement a picnic. Instead of treating watermelon selection as a game of chance, pick a juicy, sweet specimen every time with simple techniques.

Examine Weight and Shape

A watermelon, whether it’s a full-sized version or a petite personal melon, should feel heavy for its size. Also look at the melon’s shape; a melon that is rounded at the ends is usually ripe, while those slightly pointed are still maturing and weren’t ready to harvest.

Color Checks

A watermelon should have a yellow or whitish patch at the bottom where it rested on the ground. If the patch is nonexistent, or you can still see green or stripes through the yellow, it probably isn’t at its peak. If you’re going for a watermelon with a striped rind, the space between the strips should be light green in color. A ripe watermelon is usually faded on top, too.

Listen Carefully

Before you thump a watermelon to determine its ripeness, know what you’re listening for. If it makes a “pinging” sound, Daniel Egel of the Southwest-Purdue Agricultural Center told Purdue News, it’s not quite ripe. You want your melon to emit a deep, rich sound. A thud indicates the melon may be overripe.

Ask a Farmer

If you purchase your melon at a farmer’s market or at a roadside stand, ask the seller to pick a good melon for you. The grower generally has an excellent idea of which melons are best.

At the grocery store, you’ll have to do the work yourself and may be at the mercy of watermelons that were picked to early so that they could be trucked across many miles for sale. This is especially true if you try to buy a watermelon in winter.