Why It's A Bad Idea To Refrigerate Watermelon

There aren't many things more refreshing on a hot, summer day than eating a juicy slice of watermelon. But the refreshment doesn't stop there with this versatile melon. You can add it to lemonade, pickle the rind, or use it in a salad. However you prefer it, the melon is just as nutritious as it is refreshing. Watermelon is 92% water, according to the Food Network, which explains why it hits the spot during the summer. Plus it is rich in several antioxidants, including lycopene, beta-carotene, and vitamin C.

Having a watermelon on hand, especially during the summer months, is always a good idea. The shelf life of a watermelon is three to four weeks after it is cut from the vine, per the National Watermelon Promotion Board. But what's the best way to store the melon to help maintain its freshness? Many fruits and vegetables are best preserved in the fridge. Is the same true for watermelon?

Refrigerated watermelon is less nutritious

The National Watermelon Promotion Board says that watermelon should only be placed in the fridge under two conditions: if it was already refrigerated or if it is already cut. Otherwise, storing your whole melon in the fridge leads to unpleasant changes in flavor, texture, and color. It is best stored at temperatures between 50 to 59 F, but even when stored at room temperature, it will last for seven to 10 days.

But refrigeration affects more than just the taste and color. As shown in a study done by the USDA Agriculture Research Service, it also affects the nutrition levels. Antioxidant levels are higher in room-temperature watermelon. Medical News Today explains that lycopene is 20% higher and beta-carotene levels double in unrefrigerated watermelon. (Refrigeration can cause a loss of color in the watermelon, and a darker color indicates a higher level of lycopene.) 

So once you bring home your watermelon, it's best to leave it a room temperature until you are ready to cut it. No one wants to ruin the picnic with subpar watermelon that is less delicious and nutritious.