Citrullus lanatus, or for those of us that don’t speak plant names, Watermelon. This delicious fruit has been labeled one of the world’s healthiest foods, next to tomatoes and avocados. This month is Fruits & Veggies Month and today, we celebrate one of our summer favorites, the watermelon.
The origins of watermelon have been dated back to the deserts of southern Africa, where it still grows today. The watermelon was once used for its ability to store water for tribes crossing the Kalahari. The first recorded watermelon harvest occurred about five thousand years ago in Egypt and is depicted in Egyptian hieroglyphics on walls of their ancient buildings. Watermelons were also often placed in burial tombs of kings to nourish them in the afterlife.
From there, watermelons were brought to countries along the Mediterranean Sea by way of merchant ships.
- A small town in Texas known as Luling, is home to the annual Watermelon Thump festival in June. They will be celebrating 59 years this June. The festival includes a parade, beauty queen, and competitions such as watermelon growing, eating and seed spitting.
- Hope, Arkansas also celebrates watermelon with a festival, where in 2005 the world’s largest watermelon weighed in at 268.8 pounds.
- In the United States watermelon, by weight, is the most-consumed melon followed by cantaloupe and honeydew
- According to the Environmental Working Group’s 2012 Guide to Produce, watermelon ranks low on the pesticide scale, earning a spot on the “Clean 15” list.
Watermelon is known as a summer fruit because it’s peaking season is from June till September.
Watermelon’s flesh comes in a variety of colors, whether it be the familiar red and pink to yellow, green and even white. It is both dependent on honeybee pollination and drought resistant.
WHAT YOU SHOULD LOOK FOR
When shopping for the perfect watermelon to enjoy on a nice hot summer day, first you should pick it up and make sure it feels heavy. Knock on it like a door and listen for a thump. If you hear that thump it’s ripe and ready for consuming.
The underside of the watermelon should be slightly yellowish, so don’t be turned off by the “dirty” look. It means that the fruit has been spending time in the dirt getting ripe. Lastly the exterior should be hard to touch and never soft or squishy.
The watermelon is a great healthy sweet snack for anyone. This fruit is 92% water which makes it very low calorie. A cup of watermelon flesh is only 46 calories, and lucky for us it also is a great source of vitamin A, B, and C, as well as potassium and magnesium. But that isn’t even everything the yummy fruit has to offer. It contains disease-fighting antioxidants, found in its pigmented flesh.
Next time you are enjoying some watermelon don’t be so quick to spit the seeds out, they’re actually edible and a rich source of protein and fat along with iron and zinc.
The proper storage for watermelon is dependent on whether it’s cut or not. A whole, uncut watermelon can be stored at room temperature. Before cutting it open make sure to wash the exterior well and clean your cutting surface.
Once it has been cut open, store the fruit in the refrigerator, the larger the pieces the longer it will keep.
HOW TO ENJOY
The watermelon known as a budget-friendly fruit and 100% of the watermelon is usable and compostable!
- On Average a 15-20 pound seedless watermelon yields about 11 cups of cubes and 6 cups of juice.
- The colorful and bright fruit can add sweet flavors to your summer dishes
- If you happen to get an overripe watermelon don’t go throwing it away quite yet, instead juice or puree to retain the value and nutrition.
- If you really want to get your money’s worth the rind is edible and sometimes used as a vegetable (they can be stir-fried, stewed, or pickled.)
- Grocery stores also sell grab-and-go spears, wedges, and cubes for your convenience.
My Favorite Summer Snack/Treat:
- Watermelon and Feta-It is so easy and yet so good!
Watermelon is a great addition to any salad and always a good side to your meals.
Also a great idea is to use the juice for a fun cocktail by the pool!
For the classic summer parties/ gatherings:
- Not only will this fruit keep your guest hydrated on that hot summer day but it will let them enjoy a sweet treat!
- Try caramelize watermelon slices on the grill, then drizzle with honey, lime and a pinch of salt.
- Or pair them with shrimp on a kebab.
- For a fun decoration carve out a watermelon to use as a bowl for a fruit salad!
- Lastly try using the juice of a watermelon as a glaze for chicken, shrimp or pork.