Here's how to make a very easy watermelon basket or a complicated one. You can fill it with just watermelon balls that you make from the flesh that you take out, or you can add a variety of fruit. You can make the watermelon basket without a handle (much easier!), or you can get very fancy and make a handle with shamrocks, hearts, or other designs depending on the holiday.
We will stay with the easier versions in order to make it quicker for you.
The simplest method is to first cut a thin piece off the bottom of the watermelon in order for it to sit flat without rolling. Then cut off the top third of the watermelon and scoop out the flesh, leaving about 2 inches all the way around to make the basket sturdy. You can leave the edges plain, or you can cut "V's" into the watermelon before you separate it to give it a decorative edge. You can use a serrated knife, garnishing tool, or your Halloween pumpkin carving knife!
If you want to get fancier and make a handle for your watermelon basket, you can use a washable non-toxic children's marker (that you can wash off later) to make horizontal lines at least 2 inches apart and then use a large sharp knife to cut along those lines down to the center of the watermelon and then outward. Trim the flesh from under the handle leaving at least one inch or more to keep the handle sturdy (but do not try to lift by the handle). You can remove any excess watermelon with a large spoon.
Once you have your watermelon basket, you can set it aside and fill it just before serving with all kinds of fruit:
- watermelon and cantaloupe balls
- pineapple chunks
- honeydew melon
- seedless grapes
- pitted cherries
- orange slices (can be put on top for garnish)
- peaches, etc.
It is advised NOT to use bananas or blueberries because they get too soft.
You can put some drainage holes in the bottom of the watermelon basket so that any excess juices will drain out, and if you put the whole basket into a large pan with ice cubes, it will keep the fruit cold and also catch those juices.
Put your fancy bowls or sherbet glasses and whipped cream alongside the watermelon basket when you are ready to serve, and enjoy the compliments from your guests!