Why You Should Be Eating Watermelonâ€¦Right Now!
For most people, watermelon means summer. Nothing fills you up, cools you down and quenches your thirst quite like a big slice of sweet, cool watermelon. Kids love it, adults love it and dietitians love it too! And with its nutritional accolades, itâ€™s clear that watermelon should be invited to all your summer parties. Read below for all the juicy detailsâ€¦ see if you can get through the whole thing without your mouth watering!
How itâ€™s grown:
- Domestically grown watermelon is at peak season from April to October.
- Watermelon grows best in soil that is sandy and warm (80Â° F or warmer).
- Small watermelon plants are planted in beds with plenty of space between them. A vine begins to grow, and within about two months the vine will sprout baby melons. Watermelons will continue to grow on the vine for about three months.
- Placing the watermelon on a bed of straw at the end of the growing process can help protect the melons from pests and keep them in pristine condition.
How to shop for it:
- Look for a watermelon that is firm and free from cuts and bruises. It should sound hollow when thumped.
- Check the weight. A more ripe watermelon will feel heavy for its size. The heavier, the juicer!
- Check the underside of the watermelon. It should have a creamy light yellow spot, which is where the fruit rested in the field as it grew. Avoid watermelons where this spot is white (under ripe) or bright yellow (over ripe).
How to store it:
- Whole watermelons keep for 7-10 days on the counter. Past this time, they will lose flavor and texture.
- Always store cut fruits and vegetables in the refrigerator. Watermelon will keep for 3-4 days when tightly wrapped.
How to prepare it:
- Always rinse the watermelon before slicing to avoid introducing any surface bacteria onto the sliced fruit.
- Watermelon is easiest to slice at room temperature. To make slicing safer, use a sharp knife (which requires less force to cut) and start by cutting the melon in half to give yourself a flat base for carving or cutting. Never try to cut a wobbling fruit or vegetable!
- There is no wrong way to slice a watermelon. One great way is to cut the melon in half cross-wise, lay each watermelon half on your cutting board and make 10-12 cuts across. Then, make 10-12 cuts in the other direction. The end result will be square â€śwatermelon sticksâ€ť that you can then dice easily. This method avoids having to peel the melon.
How to eat it:
- While most people opt for classic slices or cubes, watermelon is extremely versatile. Give some of these watermelon ideas a try:
- Toss cooked quinoa with diced watermelon and strawberries, sliced almonds and crumbled goat cheese. Drizzle with a simple dressing made with two parts olive oil, one part balsamic vinegar and one minced shallot. Garnish with chopped fresh basil and enjoy!
- Prep watermelon kebabs with cubed turkey breast, cubed low fat Swiss cheese and cubed fresh watermelon for a great portable meal or snack.
- Make a watermelon â€śpizzaâ€ť as a vegan appetizer. Cut a cross-wise section through the watermelon and spread with strawberry puree. Top with sliced berries, kiwi and banana and sprinkle with shredded coconut. Cut into wedges and serve!
- Try a watermelon salsa, made with diced watermelon, diced red pepper, diced mango, chopped red onion, chopped fresh cilantro, a squeeze of lime juice and minced jalapeno. Serve over grilled fish for a lighter (but still flavorful!) alternative to burgers and hot dogs.
- Watermelon wedges make instant freezer pops. Simply cut a small slit in the center of the rind, insert a popsicle stick and freeze. Serve with a drizzle of honey.
- Throw thin watermelon strips into your next beef and snow pea stir fry (add the watermelon near the end of cooking).
- Cut and peel flat watermelon wedges and give them a quick sear on a hot grill. Serve with prosciutto and crumbled blue cheese for a sweet and salty appetizer!
- Make a quick sorbet by blending 4-5 cups of frozen cubed watermelon, 1 cup frozen strawberries, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, the sweetener of your choice to taste and about Â˝ cup cold water. Blend until the consistency is that of fruit sorbet.
- Save the rind! Watermelon rind (with the skin removed) can be pickled and served as an appetizer or garnish, or made into preserves.
- A dehydrator can be used to extend the shelf life of many fruits and vegetables, including watermelon. Make watermelon jerky in two steps. First, cut fresh watermelon into pieces ÂĽâ€ť thick. Set your dehydrator at 135Â° F and let run for 18-24 hours. Enjoy!
- Even though watermelon is 90% water, each serving (1 cup of cubed melon or a 1â€ť thick wedge) is still an excellent source of vitamins A and C, two vitamins which are important for healthy skin, eyes and immune systems.
- One whole cup of watermelon has fewer than 50 calories, making watermelon the perfect snack to assist in weight
- Watermelon has more lycopene per serving (about 10 milligrams) than any other fresh fruit or vegetable! Lycopene is a type of carotenoid (natural pigment) which is thought to have an antioxidant effect in the body. The actual impact of lycopene on diseases like cancer and heart disease is still being studied.
- Fresh watermelon has been deemed â€śHeart Healthyâ€ť by the American Heart Association and carries the â€śHeart Check-Mark.â€ť
Other juicy watermelon facts:
- Watermelon is a great value, especially when itâ€™s in season. One large watermelon can feed up to three dozen people, with an average cost per serving of 14Â˘. Who said eating healthy was expensive?
- Cut watermelon does not lose nutrients as rapidly as other cut vegetables. You can prep it ahead of time, guilt free!
- Seedless watermelons are not grown from GMO seeds. They were brought about by plant crossbreeding, which produces a daughter plant that grows seedless fruit.