The first time that I had a slice of watermelon with salt on it, I was skeptical. At the time, an acquaintance of mine insisted that it would make the watermelon sweeter, better. I gave it a try and I was an instant convert to salting my melon. I’ll eat watermelon (and other melons) without that pinch of salt, of course, but my friend was right: watermelon is better with salt.
Salt makes watermelon taste sweeter by creating a salty sweet contrast that allows the sweetness of the melon to stand out. Watermelon often has a subtle sweetness to it because so much of it is water, unlike a strawberry or other fruit where the flavor seems to be very concentrated and intense, so giving the sweetness a bit of salt to stand up against makes it seem much bolder. Salt also makes you salivate, which will make the watermelon seem even juicier than it is on its own. The trick to success is to only add a small pinch of salt and to evenly scatter it over the whole piece of melon. If you add too much salt, you’ll drown out the melon’s sweetness and you’ll have to start over with a fresh piece.
So, what kind of salt should you use? You can use any kind of salt, including table salt, but I prefer to use a coarser sea salt or kosher salt. It is easy to over salt the melon with table salt, and you get a greater salty-sweet contrast with the coarser salt while using less salt overall. I typically use Maldon salt or something like the pink Himalayan salt pictured above. You can also pair watermelon with feta cheese for a similar salty-sweet effect and a delicious side dish or snack on a hot summer day.