Fix Disappointing Watermelon Textures With Flaky Salt

Let's talk about watermelons. The sweet summer fruit, which is juicy and perfect when served ice cold, is a welcome respite from the brutal heat. Whether eaten by the pool as a snack or right off the grill, watermelon is a hydrating and satisfying fruit suitable for just about every weather or occasion.

However, if you buy whole watermelons to avoid the exorbitant markup for pre-cut fruits at a grocery store, you cannot always choose one that is perfectly ripe. Although still delicious, slightly under-ripe or mushy watermelons can seem a bit dry or unappetizing compared to ripe melons, and their flesh can taste less sweet. Instead of simply dealing with it, you can improve both the flavor and texture of underripe watermelons with a universal favorite: salt. Salt will bring out the sweetness and juiciness of the watermelon flesh, transforming a potential disappointment into a delicious treat. It might sound a tad strange, but trust us, it's a game-changer.

Use flaky salt on watermelon

There are many types of salt available at your local store or online. To improve the taste and texture of your watermelon, choose flaky varieties — such as sea salt or kosher. Avoid using ordinary table salt, as the iodine additives can impart a bitter taste and the texture simply won't be right. Just sprinkle a small pinch of flaky salt on the watermelon slices, let the salt work its magic for a couple of minutes, and serve.

The purpose of the salt is twofold. First, salt draws out moisture. Similar to the way we use salt to draw out water-packed vegetables such as eggplants and zucchini before cooking, salt pulls out the juices previously hidden within the watermelon flesh. As you bite into a piece of salted watermelon, the juices will greet your tongue right on the surface, making the fruit feel juicier in your mouth. The large crystals of flaked salt also give a bit of crunch to the watermelon, which improves the texture of under-ripe fruit. Furthermore, as in the case of caramel, pairing salt with watermelon makes the fruit taste sweeter by providing a savory contrast on your tongue.

The many unexpected uses of sea salt

With its crunchy texture and gentler salinity compared to common table salt, flaky sea salt is not only a great seasoning for underripe watermelons, but it is also fantastic when paired with a wide variety of foods. For example, flakes of sea salt provide a lovely contrast in texture to grilled soft vegetables such as tomatoes, eggplants, zucchini, and summer squash. It is also a great companion to avocado toast, which provides saltiness and textural contrast to the creaminess of avocado. The seasoning improves taste overall, specifically thanks to the way it lowers water activity, concentrating flavor – as noted by the US Institute of Medicine in 2010.

Sea salt is great with baked goods since it gives additional depth to sweet treats. It is especially a great partner to chocolate. For example, sprinkling flaky sea salt on chocolate chip cookies will create a crunchy, salty crust that balances the rich sweetness of dark chocolate. Similarly, using sea salt on fudgy chocolate brownies gives their fudge-like interior a spark of textural contrast. Simply sprinkle salt on freshly baked brownies and enjoy.