Watermelon is a stand-out fruit in the summer and is easily accessible at roadside markets, grocery stores and pickup trucks selling by the road. This common summertime delight is used for elaborate carvings, salads, drinks and desserts. Rinds are used for pickling, and you can even line dance to The Watermelon Crawl. It is also used in a popular dessert in Italy, consisting of almonds, chocolate and cinnamon.
The first recorded watermelon was documented about 5000 years ago in Egypt. It has been depicted in ancient wall carvings and was often placed in burial tombs for nourishment in the afterlife. The most repeated account of watermelon is from South Africa, where it was believed to have been domesticated more than 4000 years ago. Watermelon was often used in the desert when water was contaminated or not available.
Watermelon is a fruit related to cantaloupe, zucchini, pumpkin and cucumber. Watermelon is a summertime favorite and comprises about 90% water and about 85 calories per serving.
Outside of the refreshing flavor and color combination of the skin, meat and rind, it has many health benefits. The bright red flesh is packed with nutrients that include antioxidants and contain Vitamins A and C. Other nutrients include potassium, fiber, iron, Vitamin B6, calcium and magnesium.
The fruit also contains other antioxidants such as lycopene, and cucurbitacin E. Studies have suggested that lycopene may help lower cholesterol and blood pressure. The fruit can help with inflammation, eye health, skin and digestion. Who would think this bright and refreshing fruit would read with such a long list of benefits for our health?
The easiest way to cut watermelon is by cutting off each end to create a flat surface, taking your knife, slicing down the sides and slicing to your liking—types of watermelon available vary.
There is watermelon with the traditional hard black seeds and the seedless, cultivated with soft and edible seeds. The seeded variety is extra-large and oblong with a green rind, pink flesh and large black seeds. Watermelon seed spitting has been a tradition for decades, and the furthest recorded was 78.6 feet in Georgetown, Texas. Seedless melons were cultivated over 50 years ago with a lengthy process of cross-pollination in a protracted process with male and female flowers. Any seeds the fruit tries to produce remain immature and result in white edible seeds.
The Japanese have developed ways to grow melons shaped like cubes!
There is a difference between male and female watermelons. The males are larger, oblong and contain more water, while the female is round and sweeter. Watermelons are produced from plants or seeds, and both male and female flowers can be found on each plant. The difference between males and females is that females have a large bulb at the base for pollination.
Bees and other pollinators pollinate the female, which grows into a watermelon. It takes about 50 days for full harvest, which means bloom to pick.
There is an art to choosing a sweet watermelon. If there are white stripes where the melon is laid on the ground, it is not fully ripe. A “field spot,” usually yellow, indicates that it has been ripening for a long time while ripening on the ground. The melon should be heavy, and the stem dry and not green. A low-pitched sound when you thump it should be present.
Enjoy your melon in the summer in various ways, seeded or seedless!
Live, love life and watermelon.