One thing I love about July–other than celebrating the 4th of July, and my birthday the following day–is savoring a sweet, juicy watermelon. :)

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Last night I did my shopping for our 4th of July small get-together, buying the largest seedless watermelon I could find.

But how exactly do you know if it’s a good watermelon?

We’ve all had “unripe” watermelon – yucky! And so disappointing when you’re all excited to serve it to your guests and you cut it open, only to be really bummed. You can just tell.

How to buy a ripe watermelon:

-Look for a melon that looks good, meaning free of dents, bruises, cuts, etc.

-Look for a heavy melon. Watermelons should be heavy for their size (mostly made up of water).

-Check under the melon. If it has a yellow or light bottom, it should be ripe. If it’s stripes are found all around the melon, it’s not ready yet.

-When you tap a watermelon to check for a hollowing sound, that means it’s ripe. No hollowness – unripe.

I found some yummy recipes on BHG site, and also some great ideas from their latest July 2012 magazine.

Watermelon recipe ideas:

1. Grilled with a kick – Cut watermelon into 1-inch thick slices. Brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and grill over medium-high heat 2-3 minutes each side (flesh should look slightly caramelized). Serve grilled slices with a squeeze of lime and a pinch of cayenne pepper.

2. Sauteed, with shrimp – In a large skillet, saute shrimp in olive oil 2-4 minutes, until no longer pink. Transfer to a bowl. In the same skillet, cook cubes of watermelon with a little water about 3 minutes until the liquid reduces slightly. Remove from heat and pour over shrimp. Add chopped cucumber, feta, and a handful of oregano or basil. Drizzle with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon.

3. In a salad, with avocado – Remove rind and cut watermelon into thin strips. Toss with slices of avocado and this slices of red onion. Serve over watercress or other small-leaf lettuce. Finish with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

Great ideas, but the very best way?

Cut into large slices; eat and enjoy. Learn to savor the simplicity and sweetness on a hot July day.

Even if it drips down your chin. :)

Will you be serving watermelon for the 4th of July?