Watermelon can be artificially ripened as well as adulterated heavily. With watermelon's it is not easy to tell a good one from a bad one. One needs to be very careful while buying watermelons as they are often unsafe for consumption due to inherent malpractices followed to increase watermelons' shelf life and make it look more appealing.
Adulterants used in Watermelon
- Forchlorofenuron is a growth accelerator. It promotes rapid cell division and also delays cell death. It is used a few days before the intended sale in order to increase the size of watermelon which sells by weight.
- Erythrosine-B / Red-B is a red-coloured dye which is injected into the watermelon to give it a bright red colour.
Chemicals used in artificial ripening of Watermelon
How to check for adulteration in Watermelon
- Lack of Taste - When growth enhancers are added to watermelons, they promote cell division at speeds higher than natural. This devoid watermelon of their flavour since natural sweet taste comes with time.
- Water Test - Cut a small slice of watermelon and place it in a pan full of water. If the water changes colour very quickly, it confirms the presence of some red colour agent in the fruit.
- Time Delay Test - Keep the watermelon out in the kitchen for 2-3 days. Since injecting fruit with chemicals increases the probability of its premature decay, the fruit will start oozing some smelly fluid.
Best practices while shopping for Watermelon
- Look for a pale yellow patch on watermelon. This is generally at the spot where the watermelon was lying on the ground. This hints watermelon ripened on the vine.
- Look for web-like spots on watermelon. This indicates that bees may have pollinated watermelon flowers
- Pay attention to the tail of watermelon. If it is dry and of dark black or brown colour then it has naturally ripened. Adulterated watermelons may have a green stalk.
- Look for any injection or puncture marks on watermelon.
- Do not buy watermelons or any fruits during the offseason.