Fruit of the Month: Watermelon
An American favorite for meals and snacks. People can't seem to get enough
of the sweet treat, and nutritionists have long appreciated the health benefits
watermelon provides. Recently research has shed new light on its potential
health benefits. Watermelon contains high concentrations of lycopene, an
antioxidant that may help reduce the risks of cancer and other diseases.
Watermelon, the fruit that is really a Vegetable. Watermelon can be traced
back to Africa and is part of the cucumber and squash family. Early watermelons
were mainly rind and seeds. Today's varieties are larger, the flesh sweeter,
the seeds smaller and the rind thinner. It is perhaps the most refreshing,
thirst quenching fruit of all. Watermelon consists of 92% water and 8% sugar,
so it is aptly named. Americans eat over 17 lbs of watermelon each year. The
largest one on world record (Guinness Book of World Records) weighed 262
When to look for them in your grocery store:
Watermelons are available all year. The natural sweetness of watermelon
makes it a favorite anytime of the year. It is a perfect addition to a salad,
salsa, or cool drink. Top chunks of sweet watermelon with fruit flavored
sherbets or sorbets.
Choose firm, symmetrical, fruit free of cracks, bruises, soft spots or mold.
Ripe watermelon will have a healthy sheen, a dull rind, dried stem, and a
buttery yellow underside where it touched the ground. There should be a melon
like smell or fragrance. Thump if you must, sound should be dull and hollow.
Lift them, weight should be heavy for size.
Avoid watermelons that are very hard, white or very pale green in color on
the underside, indicating immaturity. An immature watermelon will be slightly
Once picked, watermelon will not ripen easily. If unripe, try putting
the whole melon in paper bag un-refrigerated. This sometimes works to ripen
them. Watermelons can be kept for short periods of time, up to 2 weeks,
uncut at room temperature. Wash watermelon with soap and water before
cutting. Once cut, package what is not eaten in closed plastic containers
or bags and put back in the refrigerator.
There are more than 50 varieties of watermelon. Most have red flesh, but
there are orange and yellow-fleshed varieties. Of the 50 varieties of
watermelon throughout the United States, there are four general categories:
Allsweet, Ice-Box, Seedless and Yellow Flesh.
* 20–25 pounds
* Red Flesh
* Dark green rind, with or without stripes
Serving suggestion: Surprise your guests by serving a large refreshing wedge
of watermelon following a heavy meal. Place the wedge on a plate with a large
knife and encourage the entire table to enjoy a slice.