Monday, July 15, 2013

How to Cut a Watermelon

A few years back I threw my parents a surprise 40th wedding anniversary luau.  It was a huge undertaking to plan, and though we didn't have a ton of money for a full luau dinner, we still wanted to make it extra special.  We timed the event as an after dinner party, and opted for mixed nuts, big ol' fruit platters, and three types of desserts.  We got pretty lucky in the fact that a lady that used to be a professional caterer was the one who volunteered to help me in the kitchen and cut up the massive amounts of fruit for the platters.  I learned a thing or two that day that I thought I'd pass along to you. The best part is, this really stretches how many people you can feed with just one watermelon.  First, find yourself a watermelon.

Before learning this tip, I would have just cut this bad boy up into wedges and it might have fed only 8-10 people.  Now it will fill a whole fruit tray or large party bowl with little to no waste.  Some good tools to have here is a plastic cutting board with a ridge (to catch the juice) and a very sharp knife.  Take your knife and cut the end off the watermelon

Turn it around and cut off the other end.

Because a watermelon is notriously round and somewhat slippery, cutting the ends off will allow you to stand it up on its end (the tall way) for a more stable cutting surface.  Following the curve of the melon, glide the sharp knife down the side of the melon, removing a thin layer of rind.

You should get a nice long piece of rind that falls off

Continue around, slicing off one strip of rind at a time.  The trick is you want to cut far enough in to remove most of the white layer, without taking off too much of the red part.

By the time you work all the way around, most of the white part should be removed.  If there are "strips" left behind, gently shave them with the knife until you can only see red.

Flip the watermelon over, stand it up on it's other end, and remove and remaining rind and white sections.

After that you will have something akin to a juicy football

Cut the "football" in half, longways, right down the middle

Now, working with one half at a time, lay the first section of watermelon with the flat side down.

Cut this section in half again, down the middle, lengthwise

Make some similar cuts about 1.5 inches apart

If you want large slices for a big platter you can thinly slice from this moment and have some fairly large pieces.  I tend to chop this up further for smaller pieces.  Matter of fact I will get a watermelon home, chop it up like this, put it in a big bowl, and the whole family will snack off it for days.  The above pieces are still pretty tall, so I will tip them over and cut them in half as well.

Each piece is usually about 1.5 x 1.5 inches square and I will slice them about 1/4 of an inch thick.

Keep slicing each section this way, and soon you will have half of a large bowl filled up. 

Now it's time for the other half of the watermelon.  Repeat the above steps.  Sometimes if my long "bricks" of watermelon are about the same size, I can cut them up two at a time.

Soon after you will have a heaping large bowl full of perfectly sliced watermelon to take to a party, serve to family and friends, take to your next picnic, or do what we do, store it in the fridge and snack off of it for days.

As soon as that juicy watermelon smell fills the air... the little ones will start to appear out of nowhere...

I hope you've enjoyed this way of cutting watermelon.  Before that big luau party I had never thought to do it this way, but it's the only way I do it now.  By the way, we cut almost all the fruit for the party this way.  It worked all the way from pokey pineapples to little fury kiwis.  This really did help stretch our food budget out as well.  Enjoy!

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