It’s perfectly normal, in these summery times we live in, to see a watermelon and be overcome with the violent urge to stab a hole in it and drink the juices—straight from the gourd (or, rather, straight from the melon).
At first sight, watermelon tap kits seem to promise to make this hazy summer urge a reality. Could a near endless supply of watermelon juice be so simple? Could we just stab a spigot into a ginormous fruit and drink for days until the melon was totally plundered of its juices?
We scrubbed the pulp from seven different juicers to find the best one.
Let's just get this out of the way at the beginning: Of course not! Watermelons are solid masses of fruit. You can't drink out of them simply by sticking a spigot into even the ripest of melons. That said, I tried this strange contraption and I'm here to say that the watermelon tap kit has valuable summer party potential. You just might need one. In fact, at the mere mention of serving watermelon, lime, and tequila cocktails (complete with jalapeño garnish) straight out of a real watermelon at an upcoming dinner party, my friends all instantly liked me more (and they were already pretty obsessed with me).
But let's get into the intricacies of how this thing works. Much more difficult than just stabbing the spigot into the fruit, the watermelon tap kit actually requires you to separate the watermelon innards from their shell and blend them into a liquid before returning the juice to its original body.
The first and most annoying step is sawing the top off of the watermelon (and the bottom to make a flat base for the fruit to stand upright) and removing the fruit, which can be accomplished with a large spoon or, better yet, an ice cream scoop. The whole process feels like carving pumpkins—but with a much larger vessel. (Luckily cocktails await you at the end.)
After you've emptied out the melon, you use the kit's provided coring tool—a considerate addition considering how difficult it might otherwise be to match the spigot to the hole in the watermelon—to carve out the space for the tap. Insert the tap and you've got your punch bowl.
Sort of. My first time attempting to use a watermelon tap, I found the coring device to be a bit awkward. You have to push and twist at the same time all the while gripping a giant, unwieldy fruit. As I used the tap subsequent times, I got the technique down. Still, I can't help but think there's room for improvement in the design—a way to make the tap easier to insert into the melon.
After you've accomplished the tap insertion, blend your watermelon in the blender with whatever ingredients you're adding to it. It could be as simple as lime juice and salt or as complex as a margarita. (In my testing, I made vodka watermelon coolers for a friend's party, the previously mentioned tequila cocktail, and a wholesome limeade.) Whatever you're using, heed another bit of beginner's difficulty I encountered: The tap clogged the first time I tried using the kit to serve a vodka watermelon cooler. I used a regular blender at its liquify setting, which made the watermelon thin enough to sip in a cup with a straw. But when I tried to serve my drink out of the watermelon itself, the tap popped off and my delicious pink cooler spurted onto the floor.
My mistake, of course, had been forgetting to strain the watermelon juice (the instructional video online does, admittedly, tell you to do this but it doesn't show the step!). Once I strained the seeds and pulp out of the mixture, the juice flowed out of the faucet much more easily.
Still, the problem of getting the tap to stay put persisted. Over repeated usage, the spigot loosened and a light pink dribble leaked out of the sides. Eventually (that is, after some quick Googling), I caved and duct taped the outside edges of the tap onto the watermelon. It stopped the leaks, but certainly made my whole watermelon tap display look a lot less effortless and fun. But by the time I'd used it several times, I got better at preventing leaks and securing the tap.
In the end, though, is something as seemingly trivial as a watermelon tap really worth your extremely hard-earned $25? The answer depends on whether you think the extra prep and ultimately imperfect tool is worth the kooky display. It also depends on the passion you feel towards watermelon. (That being said, if buying kitchen tools that can only be used seasonally makes you feel like a spendthrift, it’s also worth noting that the tap can be used in fall and winter as well: William's Sonoma's website says you can use the tap in pumpkins.) In my opinion, despite the imperfections and the notable hassle, the watermelon tap is worth it for the opportunity to (literally) drink up all of the best summer vibes.
Originally Appeared on Epicurious