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How do you keep watermelon fresh after cutting it?

Watermelon is a refreshing, juicy fruit that is perfect for hot summer days. However, once you cut into a watermelon, it can go bad quickly if not stored properly. Follow these tips to keep cut watermelon fresh for as long as possible.

Should you refrigerate cut watermelon?

Yes, you should refrigerate cut watermelon. The cold temperature of the refrigerator helps slow down the growth of bacteria and keeps the watermelon hydrated. Storing cut watermelon at room temperature will cause it to spoil faster.

What temperature is best?

The ideal refrigerator temperature for cut watermelon is 40°F or below. This cold temperature prevents microbial growth and decay. Make sure to store the watermelon towards the back of the fridge where it is coldest.

How long does cut watermelon last in the fridge?

Properly stored, cut watermelon will last 3-5 days in the refrigerator. Whole watermelon lasts longer, about 7-10 days. Once you slice into it, the exposed flesh starts to oxidize and lose moisture faster.

How to store cut watermelon in the fridge

Follow these storage tips to maximize freshness:

  • Cut the watermelon into wedges, cubes, or balls soon after cutting it open. The less exposed surface area, the better.
  • Place the cut watermelon in an airtight container or wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. This prevents the fruit from absorbing fridge odors.
  • Make sure the container or wrap is moisture-proof. This retains the watermelon’s juices and prevents it from drying out.
  • Do not wash or soak the watermelon before storing. Washing removes the natural protective coating on the outer rind.
  • Keep the watermelon towards the back of the fridge, rather than the door. The temperature fluctuates less in the back.

How to tell if cut watermelon is bad

Check for these signs that indicate your watermelon has gone bad:

  • Moldy spots or slimy texture
  • Shriveled, dried out appearance
  • Unpleasant sour or bitter odor
  • Brown or beige interior (should be red/pink)

If you notice any of these signs, throw the watermelon out. Consuming spoiled watermelon can cause foodborne illness.

Can you freeze cut watermelon?

Yes, cut watermelon can be frozen to extend its shelf life. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Cut the watermelon into 1-2 inch cubes or balls. Smaller pieces freeze faster.
  2. Arrange the pieces in a single layer on a baking sheet.
  3. Freeze until solid, about 2-3 hours.
  4. Transfer the frozen pieces to freezer bags or airtight containers.

How long does frozen watermelon last?

Frozen watermelon will keep for 6-12 months in the freezer before losing flavor and texture quality. Check for frostbitten pieces and throw away any that are damaged.

Thawing frozen watermelon

Thaw frozen watermelon in the refrigerator overnight. You can also thaw for a few hours at room temperature. Avoid thawing on the counter all day, as this increases risk of bacterial growth. Thawed watermelon will keep for 3-4 days in the fridge.

Can you pickle cut watermelon rind?

Yes! Pickling the rind transforms the hard, white part of the watermelon into a tasty snack. Here’s a quick pickled watermelon rind recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 lb watermelon rind, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1-2 tsp dill weed (optional)

Instructions

  1. Bring vinegar, water, sugar and salt to a boil in a saucepan.
  2. Add the watermelon rinds and return to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes until rinds are fork-tender.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in fresh dill.
  5. Transfer rind and liquid into jars. Cool to room temperature.
  6. Refrigerate overnight before serving.

The pickled rinds will keep for 4-6 weeks refrigerated.

Can you juice cut watermelon?

Yes, fresh watermelon juice is delicious and nutritious. Follow these steps:

  1. Cut the watermelon flesh away from the rind.
  2. Remove any seeds.
  3. Cut the watermelon into 1-2 inch chunks.
  4. Working in batches, blend the chunks in a blender until smooth.
  5. Pour the juice through a strainer to remove any foam or pulp.
  6. Enjoy the juice right away or store in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days.

For best texture and flavor, drink the juice within 12-24 hours of blending. The juice tends to get watery if kept longer.

Watermelon juice recipe ideas

  • Watermelon mint juice – add torn mint leaves and lime juice
  • Watermelon ginger juice – blend with chopped ginger and lemon
  • Watermelon juice smoothie – blend with yogurt and ice

Other ways to use up cut watermelon

Try these creative recipes if you have leftover watermelon:

  • Watermelon salsa – toss diced watermelon with onions, lime, cilantro and jalapeño
  • Watermelon pizza – top a crust with cheese, watermelon and prosciutto
  • Watermelon sorbet – blend watermelon and simple syrup, then freeze
  • Watermelon skewers – alternate watermelon, feta and mint on skewers
  • Watermelon salad – combine diced watermelon, feta, arugula, mint and balsamic dressing

Can you dehydrate cut watermelon?

Dehydrating is a great way to preserve watermelon for long term storage. Here is a simple process:

  1. Cut watermelon into 1/4-1/2 inch slices. Remove rind.
  2. Arrange slices in a single layer on dehydrator racks.
  3. Dehydrate at 135°F for 6-8 hours, flipping halfway through.
  4. The slices are done when leathery and dried through.
  5. Store dried watermelon in an airtight container for up to 1 year.

Rehydrate dried watermelon by soaking in water or juice for a few hours before eating. Sprinkle on yogurt, cereal or salads.

Does cut watermelon need to be sealed or kept underwater?

There are two common techniques people use to try to keep cut watermelon fresh longer:

  1. Sealing – Covering the exposed watermelon flesh tightly with plastic wrap or an airtight lid.
  2. Underwater storage – Submerging watermelon cubes in a container of water.

So do these methods work? Here is a comparison:

Method Pros Cons
Sealing
  • Prevents drying out
  • Easy to use everyday
  • Can trap bacteria if not stored properly
  • Watermelon still exposed to air
Underwater
  • Minimizes air exposure
  • Keeps watermelon hydrated
  • Time consuming
  • Risk of contamination
  • Water absorbs flavors

Overall, sealing cut watermelon is the easier, more practical option for everyday use. Underwater storage may keep watermelon fresh a little longer, but requires more effort.

Tips for underwater storage

If you want to try underwater storage, keep these tips in mind:

  • Use very cold water – add ice cubes to keep chilled
  • Change the water daily
  • Use distilled or purified water
  • Cut watermelon right before submerging
  • Keep refrigerated

What’s the best way to cut a watermelon?

Here is a step-by-step guide to cutting a watermelon cleanly and efficiently:

  1. Place the watermelon on a cutting board on its side.
  2. With a large chef’s knife, slice off both ends to create flat surfaces.
  3. Stand the watermelon upright and make vertical slices from top to bottom about 1-2 inches apart.
  4. Lay the watermelon on its side again and make horizontal slices to cut the flesh into cubes or wedges.
  5. Use a paring knife to remove the rind from the flesh.
  6. Cut the watermelon cubes away from the rind.
  7. Collect all the cut watermelon pieces and refrigerate immediately.

This method helps you cut uniform, bite-sized pieces easily. Be sure to work quickly and return any unused melon back to the fridge.

Watermelon cutting tips

  • Use a sharp chef’s knife to cut cleanly through the melon
  • Wipe knife occasionally to reduce slipping
  • Have a large cutting board to fit the whole watermelon
  • Cut prepared pieces right before serving to prevent oxidation
  • Avoid cutting through the white rind portion

Conclusion

Storing cut watermelon properly is key to keeping it fresh and reducing waste. Placing watermelon in an airtight container in the fridge is the simplest method for everyday use. Limiting air exposure, controlling temperature and using cut pieces soon are also important. With the right techniques, you can enjoy fresh watermelon for up to 5 days after cutting into it.