HOW TO CUT A WATERMELON OR ANY MELON
Whenever I am at a BBQ or casual dinner party I am always volunteered by someone to do the unwanted task of slicing up the melons. This is not some euphemism… I mean literally cutting up honeydews, cantaloupes and the most popular and feared – watermelon. I am not going to lie: I do have some pretty cool melon knife skills. But as always, I am happy to share my secrets!
I learned how to slice and dice melons in my catering internship back in culinary school. I worked at one of the top catering companies in Chicago and superb knife skills were pretty much the only similarity amongst the employees there. That and the common Spanish language being screamed and spoken in every corner of the 60,000 sq. foot operation were.
I was pretty impressed with the speed that all the line cooks – all 65 of them -sliced with. In fact, it was mind-boggling. One of the line cooks would peel and cut a watermelon in under a minute… A MINUTE! The knives were uber sharp and the melons were huge. It never fazed the guy. He went through them, as if he was shucking corn. I was pretty sure that I would be adding some fingers to the melon cubes, if I attempted this feat.
But I stood next to him for an entire day and watched his technique. He spoke to me in Spanish only to which I would nod and mimic and attempt to respond in my broken Spanglish. We had our own language. And it consisted of many “si’s” and even more confused head nods. (Yeah… I also learned Spanish mighty quickly there.) At the end of my 8-hour day, I was almost a pro. I had the technique down, but my fear of losing a nub always stopped me from moving freakishly fast as he did.
This technique works for all and any melons. In fact it pretty much works for any round fruit or vegetable. The concept… or technique is the same for all, and once you nail it down, you will be sure to impress all your friends with your super neat knife skills. Perhaps, you can even teach them a trick or two about cutting a melon! Or you can just send them over.
FYI…I use Globals as my knives of choice. I love them. I have had them for 12 years. And they have been nothing but wonderful. I take them to client’s houses to do private cooking classes, I take them to catering occasions, and use them on a daily basis at home. They are light, easy to wash and stay sharp. I bought them from a store with my student discount while still in Culinary School as a graduation present to myself. However, you can find them on Amazon for a really great price too.
So we start with a nice cutting board, a knife and a washed melon. Yes washed? Why you ask? Because god knows, where it has been. And as soon as you use your knife to slice into it, you are contaminating your knife, thereby contaminating the rest of its innards. Trust me: wash, wash, wash! Just dump the whole thing in the sink and scrub.
Step 1. Place your melon on the cutting board and take off each “stem” end.
Step 2. If you are cutting a larger watermelon, feel free to slice it in half for better manageability and follow the same steps.
Step 3. Now flip it over to one of the exposed sides that you just cut off, and start cutting the skin off around the perimeter of the melon. Go slow, following the curves of the melon with your knife.
Step 4. Do this carefully and slowly. You are in no rush. Just follow the curvature and if you miss a few spots, don’t worry about it; we will go back later and grab every last piece of skin.
Step 5. At this point look over your melon and if there are any pieces of skin still on there, go ahead and carefully slice them off. I like to use the tip part of the knife for this more detailed portion because I feel it gives me better control. Now slice your melon in half.
Step 6. Take a large spoon and empty out the seeds into the trash. Obviously, if you are doing this with a watermelon, you can go ahead and skip this step, as it does not have a central cavity with seeds in it.
Step 7. There we go… nice and clean.
Step 8. Now flip over the melon to the flat side, so it is stable. And slice it. If you are working with a large watermelon, I frequently slice into the watermelon horizontally first to create even thinner pieces. But for honeydews this is not necessary.
Step 9. If you just want slices, you can leave it as so and serve.
Step 10. But we are going for cubes here! So cut the melon across the slices, and you will have perfect little cubes.
Pretty simple, huh?! And you can do this same technique on melons, oranges, pineapple, squash, and butternut squash… Whatever your heart desires! Now you are a pro and could slice up all the fruit in your house. Practice makes perfect after all!
For a step by step tutorial and more pictures go to www.girlandthekitchen.com.