What It Means When Your Store-Bought Watermelon Is Rubbery

There's nothing quite as satisfying as biting into a sweet, juicy slice of watermelon on a hot summer's day. Unless, of course, you happen to get one of those weird rubbery watermelons popping up in TikTok videos.

Most people can tell if a watermelon is good by identifying whether or not it has a mealy texture, which indicates that the melon is overripe. More recently, folks have been displeased (and actually a little concerned) when they've cut into a watermelon only to find it isn't crisp like it should be; instead, it has a tough, chewy consistency comparable to rubber. While the internet has had a field day with conspiracy theories about being sold fake food, Rachel Syngo, chief marketing officer of the National Watermelon Promotion Board, tells Mashed that rubbery watermelon is actually a symptom of spoilage.

"All watermelons will begin to have a rubber-like texture eventually as a part of the breakdown process," Syngo explains, adding, "This is a naturally occurring phase in all watermelons before they begin to get a grainy texture and truly begin to decompose." Because watermelon stops ripening after it's plucked from the vine, then if the fruit isn't kept cool after being harvested at the desired ripeness, higher temperatures can speed up the process of decay. That's not the only strange thing heat can do to watermelons; it can also contribute to fermentation, a process that can quite literally cause watermelons to explode.

You don't need to throw rubbery watermelon away

While the smell, color, taste, and texture of the fruit can all indicate when a watermelon has gone bad, overripe watermelon is still considered safe to eat (though it's not quite as refreshing). If you can't get around the bizarre texture of rubbery, overripe watermelon, then Rachel Syngo says, "There are quite a few great ways to use watermelons in a recipe where it is sliced very small, like in a watermelon salsa, for example." Alternatively, you can try this watermelon sorbet recipe; because the watermelon needs to be frozen, blended, and then frozen again to make this snack, you can avoid the off-putting texture shown in @kiva_boddy's TikTok, for example, while still getting all of that delicious watermelon flavor.


It looks so good but tastes so bad 😭 Have you had a bendable, rubbery watermelon? #rubberwatermelon #watermelon #badwatermelon

♬ original sound – kiva

Before you throw out the super nutrient-dense watermelon rind, heed Syngo's words: She tells Mashed there are loads of recipes out there that utilize this under-appreciated part of the fruit, as well. "[I]f someone doesn't like the texture at all," Syngo says, "they can always juice or blend up their watermelon for cocktails, mocktails, or smoothies." Our favorite is this easy vodka-spiked watermelon recipe.