Saturday, June 6, 2009

Watermelon Season is Upon Us -- Celebrate!

Depending on where you live, it may already be watermelon season! I know that here in California, they're showing up in markets a lot, and the one I bought last week was actually good!

Think of your best and worst watermelon experiences. My watermelon memories go something like this:

The Good: Dark red, sweet juicy fruit served ice cold. Even as a kid, this treat was as delicious and desirable as candy.

The Bad: Pale pink, flavorless fruit, veined with stringy white pith and pebbled with dark seeds, sitting for too long on an anonymous "all you can hold down" buffet line in a casino town.

At its best, watermelon is worth going out of your way for. Especially since as "mature and responsible" adults, we should attempt to keep candy eating to a minimum. At its worst... well, what can you expect from an "all you can hold down buffet" anyway?

Tips for Choosing the Best Watermelon
There's an art to choosing the best watermelon that makes all the difference in the world. The National Watermelon Promotion Board offers these three easy tips for choosing a great watermelon.

  • Choose a firm, symmetrical fruit that is free of bruises, cuts and dents.
  • Before you buy, pick up your melon. The heavier it feels, the better -- a good watermelon is 92% water, which makes up most of its weight.
  • On the underside of the watermelon there should be a creamy yellow spot from where it sat on the ground and ripened in the sun.

Watermelon Seeds
Contrary to popular belief eating watermelon seeds does not cause a watermelon to grow in your stomach. Actually, in some cultures it is popular to bake the seeds and then eat them.

Over 1,200 varieties of watermelon are grown worldwide. Every part of a watermelon is edible, even the seeds and rinds.

To De-Seed a Watermelon:

  1. Cut watermelon in half, then in quarters.
  2. Cut through the flesh of the melon along the seed line with a pairing knife. Now, lift off the piece of the melon you just cut.
  3. Using a fork, scrape the seeds from the piece you just removed and the remaining flesh on the rind.
Watermelon Storage Tips

Store watermelon on the warm side Compared to most fruits, watermelons need a more "tropical" climate - a thermometer reading of 55° F is ideal. However, whole melons will keep for 7 to 10 days at room temperature.

Store melons too long, and they'll lose flavor and texture.

Lower temperatures cause chill injury After two days at 32° F, watermelons develop an off-flavor, become pitted and lose color.

Freezing causes rind to break down and produces a mealy, mushy texture.

Once a melon is cut, it should be wrapped and stored at 37° - 39° F.

Safety Tips
According to the FDA, you should wash all fruits and vegetables including all melons in clean, running water before eating them. This is true of all fruits and vegetables, rinds or not. You should also use clean knives and cutting surfaces. Additionally, persons preparing melons, fruits, vegetables or other foodstuffs should thoroughly was their hands with soap and water prior to preparing the food for eating.

Watermelon Carving 101
Learn how to turn an ordinary watermelon into an edible work of art. Yes, Virginia, you too can carve a watermelon! Click the link above for a variety of fun watermelon carving designs including the whale at the top of this post, a variety of pretty baskets and a watermelon baby carriage perfect for a shower centerpiece.

How to Cut a Watermelon for Serving
Easy photo instructions show you how to cut and serve watermelon in wedges or chunks.

Watermelon and Health - Why Your Body Needs Watermelon
Watermelon is one the world's best sources of lycopene (even better than tomatoes!). Find out what this important antioxidant can do for your body.

Fun With Watermelon
Click for lots of fun facts and watermelon trivia -- you'll never know when you'll be on a TV quiz show!

Need Garnishing Tools?
Click for's selection.

Favorite Watermelon Recipes

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