How many times have you bought a pristine-looking watermelon from your local grocery store, only to come home to discover that the fruit is soft, bitter, or seriously lacking in sweetness? It’s something that happens to the best of us—but it sure doesn’t have to!

Consider flipping your watermelon selection process on its head; don’t waste time trying to find a perfect watermelon, instead, focus on spotting their lesser-known negative traits first. Sure, it may take some sifting around in the produce section, but the process will ensure that you walk away with some VERY succulent fruit.

If you spot one (or more) of these 7 traits on a watermelon, don’t even think about buying it!

  1. Your watermelon is cracking or has white and black spots

    moldy watermeloniFunnyBox

    A melon that is spotted with black and white dots, or has a considerable amount of cracking, could be afflicted with something known as “belly rot”, a condition that is known to speed up the molding process. If you end up bringing home a watermelon with these features, bring it back for a refund—this rot can affect the taste and could even make you sick!

  2. Your watermelon feels light

    watermelon weightDaveHax

    While carrying a light watermelon back to the car could sound like an advantage to some, the most discerning produce shoppers know that this is a sign of trouble. You see, a lightweight watermelon tells you that there is not enough water inside the rind, which means you’ll likely be met with dehydrated, anemic fruit once you cut in. Good to know!

  3. Your watermelon doesn’t sound right

    watermelon knockingGetty Stewart

    Your mother was right— “knocking” on a watermelon actually works. Ideally, you will want to hear a hollow sound, a sure sign that the fruit is juicy and filled with water. On the other hand, if you hear a “thud”, it’s definitely a dud!

  4. Your stem is green

    watermelon green stemOrganicGarden123

    If you are growing your own watermelons—or patronize a store that leaves on the stems—be sure that you take a good look at the underside of the melon. While a parched-looking stem may look like a warning, it’s actually a good thing—it means the fruit is ready to eat. If it has a rich green stem, the fruit definitely needs some more time to ripen.

  5. Your watermelon is TOO good looking

    watermelon webbingAlice Henneman via Flickr

    Believe it or not, watermelons that are adorned with flawless rinds are generally not the ones to go for. If a melon is devoid of “webbing”, then it means that the fruit probably did not receive enough pollination. Though this won’t necessarily result in an inedible watermelon, it could mean that your fruit won’t be as sugary sweet as it should be. Sometimes “ugly” is better!

  6. Your watermelon is loooong

    watermelon longWikipedia Commons

    While watermelons with long bodies are not necessarily bad for eating, the rounder ones are known to be much sweeter. Fun fact: the longer variety are known as “male”, and the circular variety are known as “female”!

  7. Your watermelon has a big, white spot

    watermelonfieldspotProduce Guide via Brightside

    Turn over your watermelon; you should see what is called a “field spot”. The sweetest melons have a yellowish color on the melon’s underside—the darker, the better. With that being said, a white spot is better than NO spot at all! If you are in desperate need of a watermelon, then definitely go for the lesser of the evils.

See, we just took the mystery out of buying watermelons. You can thank us later!

Now that you know how to select these summertime fruits, we would love to hear from you! How do you select your watermelons? Do you grow your own? What is your favorite recipe that calls for watermelon?