Learn from my gross failure
I wasted a perfectly good watermelon due to my own carelessness and I do not wish for the same fate to befall you or your own personal watermelon. Learn from my mistake and store your watermelon properly if you're not going to eat it right away. Then again, maybe that was my problem—storing the watermelon in the first place, rather than grabbing a knife, cutting it into wedge, slices, and cubes, and just going to town right away. Watermelon should be a food of impulse, haste, and stress-free bliss. Buy watermelon, and do not delay your pleasure. But that's not what happened.
My husband brought home a watermelon a week ago because we were having weekend guests. We should have known our friends well enough to assume that they'd bring their own watermelon, because that's just the sort of company we keep. So we let our watermelon sit on the counter. Watermelons seem so sturdy, very thump-able and cool, and besides, it wasn't that hot out. It should keep just fine, right?
Oh no, so very wrong. I was carrying the watermelon out to the car—because hey, who doesn't like to take their watermelon for a ride—and started sniffing around. Something indefinable and putrid was definitely in the air, maybe one of the dogs had dragged in a furry friend, or the neighbor's septic tank was backing up or… why was my hand damp?
Bleaurgh! The bottom of the watermelon had rotted into mush where it made contact with the counter, and it was leaking some creepy, foul-smelling, yellow slime all over my fingers. I resisted smashing the decaying melon onto the pavement and instead chucked it into a patch of weeds where some seeds might hopefully take purchase in the soil and produce more melons with which I could could hopefully redeem myself.
Here's my pledge for future watermelon freshness:
If there's any chance at all that the unopened melon can fit in the refrigerator, it'll go in there for two to three weeks. If it's been cut open, I'll wrap the cut side in plastic and keep it in there for no longer than three days. Some experts say that this decreases the watermelon's nutritional value because the lycopene and beta carotene takes a hit, but that's rarely, if ever, why I'm eating watermelon.
If there isn't enough room to store the uncut melon in the fridge, I'll let it stay out in a cool, dark place for two to three days maximum, and no matter where I store it, I'll rotate that sucker so it's not just sitting on one un-aerated spot that's getting grosser by the hour.
If the melon is cut, whatever I can't eat, I'll cube and put in the fridge (and turn the rinds into pickles and preserves), or freeze in chunks. It's pretty much just water so it'll turn to ice. That's great for popping into drinks in the very near future, but if it's going to be a little longer than that, I'll toss the cubes with sugar, seal them in an airtight container, and use them blended into drinks, because that crispness never quite comes back.
In short, I guess I'll just use my melon next time.