Does salt make watermelon sweeter?

Watermelon with pink salt
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.

10 comments

  1. I love salt on fruit-esp watermelons & cantaloupes. Chili-lime salt on fresh fruit is really popular in South Texas.
    My dad puts salt AND pepper on cantaloupe!

  2. Plenty of fruit turn out better with some salt.
    It’s surprising really btu when you think about it, it does make sense. Try just a teeny weeny bit of salt on an apple.

  3. Good to know. I’m not a big watermelon fan, so I’ll try any tip that might make me like it!

  4. I love love love salt on my watermelon. It just tastes better with salt on it to me. My husband hates it though. Oh well……. I will keep salting my watermelon anyway, lol. Thanks for writing such a great blog.

  5. I like salt and pepper on most melons. If I’m feeling really “crazy” I’ll squeeze on some lime juice and add a pinch of ground chipotle pepper for some smoky spice.

  6. I have never heard of this! I wish I had watermelon to try it on, now.

  7. I love watermelon. Never normally do anything to it, just munch huge amounts. I’ll give this a go though, sounds interesting.

  8. This morning my granddaughter asked why I use salt on watermelon…I’ve used salt on watermelon my whole life because my grandparents did. Now I finally know why.

  9. Definitely going to try salt now. Not sure yet about pepper, but who knows. Thanks for the suggestions.

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