Watermelon - A Summer Treat We Love to Eat
Posted: Friday, July 1, 2011
There is nothing that says summer like a juicy slice of watermelon. Its red flesh and vibrant green rind make a statement on a platter of fresh fruit and evoke memories of watermelon seed spitting contests we've all taken part in as kids.
Watermelon is native to Central Africa. As a cucurbit, watermelon is related to cabbage, cantaloupes and cucumbers. It is known as the lycopene leader because it contains more lycopene per serving than other fruits or vegetables. Lycopene is beneficial to health because it helps reduce the risk of developing some forms of cancer. Watermelon is low in calories, and has more than 300 mg of potassium and more than 1,600 IU of Vitamin A per serving.
There are many varieties of watermelon today, but the most popular is the large, elongated oval shape with the striped, two-tone green rind. They weigh an average of 15 to 35 pounds, but the smaller personal-sized melons that come in the seedless form are gaining in popularity. This size is more convenient when you want just a small amount for a couple meals or snacks.
Despite the fact that that many varieties of watermelon are now advertised as seedless, more often than not, there are a few seeds scattered throughout the melon. However, they are quite small and are soft and edible. In Asian cultures, the seeds are enjoyed roasted as many do with pumpkin seeds. The green watermelon rind is often eaten as well, in the form of pickles. These sweet, soft pickles are great eaten on their own or diced and added to egg salad, tuna salad or chicken salad. They would even add a fresh, sweet accent to a tossed green salad, used as you would fresh sliced strawberries, blueberries or dried cranberries or cherries.
Picking the Perfect Melon
Look for symmetrical melons without any flat sides. Choose a melon that is heavy and free from soft spots and cuts. Slap the side of the watermelon and listen for a hollow thump as a good indicator that the melon is ripe. The rind should be dull versus shiny and just barely yield to pressure. Look for a creamy yellow spot on the underside of the melon, which signifies that it ripened in the sun.
What do you do with that big melon once you get it home? It can sometimes be a dilemma. If you don't have refrigerator space, it can be kept in a cool, dark place for several days. However, it is best to keep it refrigerated for up to a week. Once it has been cut, be sure to wrap it tightly with plastic wrap or foil to prevent the flesh from drying out.
- Watermelon tops the charts with over a 90% water content, and for this reason is a great food to help with hydration during warm weather.
- Because of its high water content, watermelon is also very filling and may help curb your appetite.
- A Japanese farmer in Kumamoto has developed a heart-shaped watermelon to symbolize his passion for farming and love for his wife. The twenty melons he grew sold for about $200.00 each on Mother's Day.
- Queensland, Australia is the site of the biannual Chinchilla Melon Festival. Activities that are part of the festival include watermelon skiing, melon eating contests and melon games such as Melon Bungy, Melon Bulls Eye and Watermelon Seed Spitting. Chinchilla produces 25% of all the melons sold in Australia.
We offer several of our favorite watermelon recipes, including one we found for Watermelon Pickles, in case you want to try your hand at home canning. It is a great way to make the most of this summer fruit and enjoy it all-year-round. We also received a recipe from one of our loyal customers for a salad she has enjoyed serving during the summer. We're sure you'll enjoy it as much as we did!
Spinach and Watermelon Salad
Watermelon and Strawberry Lemonade
Spinach Salad with Watermelon, Blueberries, Feta and Meyer Lemon Dressing
Watermelon, Fennel and Niçoise Olive Salad
Watermelon Rind Pickles
Sweet and Tangy Watermelon Salad