Why You Should Always Use the “Two-Finger” Rule to Pick Out Watermelon

updated Nov 21, 2023
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Someone with two fingers over watermelon
Credit: Mackenzie Filson

Every summer, without fail, I am reminded that I really should have gotten a degree in agriculture for the express purpose of figuring out how to pick out the ideal watermelon.

It’s the ultimate party trick, because so many of us have carted home a happy, plump watermelon that looked (literally) ripe enough to eat, only to reveal a pale, watery, less-than-sweet interior. No lie, having worked at a grocery store myself, I’ve seen many a watermelon returned because they were less than juicy.

While there’s plenty of cute graphics and guides around that show what to look for (yellow spots here, webbing there, knock three times before opening, etc.), I knew there had to be a simpler, more intuitive way to pick one without having to keep a screenshot in my phone.

So I began my quest, asking grocery store managers and farmers, and even testing a viral Facebook hack to sort out what’s the end-all best watermelon-picking tip. As it turns out, the foolproof tip was one I’d never even heard of until this year. Here’s how to pick out a perfectly ripe watermelon using the two-finger rule.

Quick Overview

How to Use the Two-Finger Rule to Pick Out a Watermelon

To measure the stripes on your watermelon, simply hold two fingers together lengthwise along the melon. See if you can fit both fingers within the darker green area between two white stripes, as shown in the photo above. If so, your watermelon should perfectly ripe.

What Is the Two-Finger Rule for Watermelon?

I’m always a bit skeptical of a “hack,” but once I reached out to two separate watermelon farmers, bugged my local farmers market buddies for opinions, and ate my way through a watermelon, it turns out you really only need two fingers to pick out a winning melon. Yes, your hand is the ultimate guide.

You’ve likely seen the viral tip circulating around the internet each summer. In short, it states that a perfectly ripe watermelon should have green stripes that are around the width of two fingers. Color me surprised, because these farmers and Facebook posters just might be on to something. 

Testing the Two-Finger Rule

After sifting my way through a bin of expectant watermelons (only a few ready with their stripes out), I found my prospect: a big ol’ beast of a melon just about begging me to sprinkle tajín on it. I did my cursory check.

  • Two fingers width between stripes? Check.
  • Heavy? You bet.
  • A satisfying thud after knocking on it (just for fun)? The thud was beautiful, TBH. 

Carrying my watermelon out of the store, I felt victorious and very much like Baby from Dirty Dancing. Watermelon as my co-pilot, we drove home to meet our fate. Slicing through the watermelon, the juice spilling out seemed like a fortuitous start, but would there be a sweet, pinkish ruby interior to match?

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Um, bullseye! We got a winner here: a sweet and juicy, eat-over-the-sink-style watermelon that’s just about ready to be grilled and topped with halloumi, sprinkled with fresh mint, or soaked in tequila (naturally).

The next time I reuse this hack, I plan on using this ingenious watermelon slicer — it can basically cut a whole watermelon in just one second. Even if you’re not doubling up on watermelon hacks, it’s definitely worth trying the two-finger trick on your next shop, and if you do, feel free to invite me over for sampling.

Do you have a foolproof produce hack to share? Tell us about it in the comments below.