How to Cut a Watermelon

Summer is upon us, which means cookouts and watermelons! But how the hell can one easily cut a watermelon? Some people just say fuck it and they put out huge, monster-sized slices of watermelon that are bigger than your face. And while that's cute for photos, it's really just an awful way to eat a watermelon. The juice gets all over your face, maybe in your hair, and it drips on your clothes. No one wants to be sticky, right?

I suppose I could think of worse ways, though. You could melon-ball it, thereby bruising it, ruining it's texture, wasting a whole bunch of it, and making it go bad much faster. You could hack at it with a machete, flinging juice and various-sized chunks around the room. You could face-plant into a watermelon half and eat it without using your hands. Sounds kinda fun, actually, but I don't think anyone wants a watermelon seed in their eye.

So, I'm going to make this easy. I'm going to give you step-by-step instructions to cut perfectly forkable bite-sized pieces of watermelon. First things first, we mise en place. That's French for "get your shit together." (Loose translation. Ok, my translation.) Empty, clean, and sanitize your kitchen sink. Grab a cutting board and your ceramic melon knife. Oh, you don't have one? That's ok. Grab your chef's knife--long, wide, flat blade--or your carving knife--long, narrow, flat blade. Make sure that shit is sharp and rinse and wipe it after you sharpen it. No one wants metal shaving perforating their digestive track. Don't use a bread knife--long, serrated blade--unless that's really all you have. You'll also need a cutting board with a trivet and a few large bowls. I like to use my big salad bowls because they're sturdy and squat; I can put half a watermelon it in and it keeps it from tipping over in my fridge. 

You have a clean sink, knife, cutting board, and bowls? Cool. Let's get started. Wash the outside of your watermelon. This is something most people skip because they won't be eating the rind. But, the rind is going to touch surfaces that your food touches. If there is dirt on the outside, this has the potential of making you sick. You also have no idea how many dirty hands touched that watermelon before you bought it. Don't be gross. Wash your melons.

Dry it off with a kitchen towel and place it on your cutting board. Cut it in half so that the ends are intact. In other words, not lengthwise. Don't cut through the stem end or bud end. This makes it easier to store half of the watermelon if you aren't cutting the whole thing right away. In my house, we save the other half for a couple of days before it gets cut, too. Just make sure it gets covered so it doesn't dry out. 

Now that you've got one half put away, flip the other half over so it's flat-side-down. Cut it in half, then cut those in half, so that you have four large wedges.

Watermelon eighth

The next step is to start slices, but don't finish them. At the wide end, cut straight down an inch from the edge. Run the tip of the knife against the rind, but don't apply enough pressure to separate the slice. Keep making these almost slices until you've reached the tip. 

Try to avoid cutting through most of the white part.

Try to avoid cutting through most of the white part.

Next is the slightly tricky part that's going to take a bit of practice to get it right. Good thing you've got eight wedges of watermelon to try it on! Slice on the diagonal to start to create to cubes. From the wide end of the peak, create cuts an inch apart all the way down to the rind. 

Be VERY careful to not cut your hand while holding the wedge steady.

Be VERY careful to not cut your hand while holding the wedge steady.

Now is the time to move it to your storage bowl, if you haven't already. When you duplicate the cuts down the other side of the wedge, you'll have chunks of watermelon that are totally free and ready to eat. If you're not careful, they'll fall away while you finish your cuts. And we don't want any to end up on the floor, do we?

Cubed watermelon

Some of the watermelon will still be attached to the rind. Just run the knife along the edge and cut it free from the white part. All that's left is to chill and enjoy!