Watermelon: The Real Juicy Fruit
Watermelon is the quintessential summer fruit. Fresh and juicy, watermelon signifies summer. It feels cool and succulent, delicious and even decadent in an all American sort of way, just like picnics and baseball in the summertime.
Watermelon originated in Africa thousands of years ago. In the US it is mostly grown in the southern states because it requires a long growing season although you can find it growing in the Midwest too.
When choosing watermelon, weight is important. A riper watermelon will feel heavy indicating more water, a juicier melon. A yellowish spot where the melon grew in the field is a good thing, because it can indicate the melon wasn’t picked very early. Choosing crops with the ultimate longevity in their growing environment is ideal. Whether to thump your melon or not is controversial, so experiment and find the method that gives you your best result. There is something to be said for smelling melons where it was attached to the vine, for a 'melony' fragrance. It should be firm.
When you bring the melon home, wash the exterior with a mild soap or white vinegar and water solution. Wipe it with a sponge or dish cloth, rinse and dry. This process is important because bacteria can collect on the outside. If you have an unclean melon, the knife cutting through it may transport bacteria to the flesh. This is the reason I don’t recommend buying cut melon. If cut, you aren’t sure the preparer took the measure to properly wash the outer rind before cutting. Be sure to refrigerate cut melon.
Watermelon Nutritional High Points:
National Geographic cites a study done by the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry and says drinking watermelon juice before a hard workout helped reduce athletes' heart rate and next-day muscle soreness.
Although watermelon has a high water content, it is also a natural diuretic. Be sure to keep sipping water throughout the day to meet your hydration requirements. It is low in calories; high in vitamins A & C; has some potassium; is a good source of lycopene (said to be especially positive for men’s health as it is thought to be preventive for prostate cancer); some B vitamins and copper; has an amino acid and an anti-inflammatory phytonutrient your body will appreciate; and it has fiber.
Tam's Favorite Ways To Enjoy Watermelon:
1. Replace tomatoes on salads. You get much of the same nutrition (vitamins A, C and lycopene). Changing up your usual regimen (watermelon for tomatoes) adds diversity.
2. Fun kid food. Use cookie cutters like flowers, hearts, animals, fish, or cut rectangles like flags (use blueberries to signify stars and stripes). Use blueberries for decorations and eyes. Kids will love it!
3. With yellow mustard on your picnic plate. Much like how peanut butter and chocolate met, this is a great combination. Try it to believe!
4. Relish. Chop with same size papaya, mango, pineapple, and/or kiwi. Add a little lime juice and zest with a dash of champagne vinegar and drizzle of untoasted sesame oil. Sprinkle chopped cilantro or basil.
5. On fish tacos. The light flavor of watermelon complements fish tacos nicely.
6. Freeze in small cubes or use as a garnish slice on the rim of your glass. Add to water or iced herbal tea.
7. All by itself. Because nothing beats a chilly juicy piece of succulent watermelon on a hot summer day.
Whatever you are doing to relax and enjoy your summer, chill out with refreshing watermelon any way you like it!