Watermelon – Perfect Summer Treat
JUST AS ITS NAME suggests, watermelon is 92 percent water. It comes in red, pink, orange or yellow, some with oval black seeds (perfect for distance spitting), and some almost seedless. Watermelons can be huge pods, softball size or, in one experiment, a cube.
The first documented harvest of the green giant was in Egypt 5,000 years ago— with the hieroglyphics to prove it. More than 1,200 varieties now exist, and watermelon is grown in 96 countries.
Every year, Americans down 4 billion pounds of this popular fruit—or is it a fruit? Watermelon is more closely related to cucumbers and pumpkins than to apples or bananas. So, it’s generally considered to be both a fruit and a vegetable.
Watermelon is more than a tough skin (which, incidentally, was used as a canteen by early explorers). It’s low in calories and high in vitamins, containing vitamins A, B6 and C, plus thiamine, magnesium and potassium. It also contains more lycopene, an antioxidant thought to protect against some cancers, than any other fruit or veggie.
How do you select a perfect watermelon? Thumping may be fun, but it can bruise the fruit, which is surprisingly delicate
inside that rhino skin. Look for dents and deformities. The watermelon should surprise you with how heavy it feels. Then turn it over—is there a creamy yellow spot where it ripened on the ground? That’s a sign that it’s ready to eat.
Before you cut into a watermelon, wash the outer skin and dry it. Once it’s cut, refrigerate and eat it within three to four days. You can also carve the skin or the whole watermelon like a pumpkin for a different twist. Or toast the seeds with salt as you would pumpkin seeds.
We usually think about eating watermelon right off the rind, but there are countless options worth trying this summer. Try
pairing watermelon with sushi, create a breakfast lasagna —even try it in sandwiches or cocktails. Thousands of recipes,
sweet and savory, circle the globe; here are a few from the National Watermelon Promotion Board (www.watermelon.org).