Have you been enjoying watermelon this summer? It tastes especially good on really, really hot days–like the ones we’ve been having the past few weeks! And it’s good for you, too–I read that it’s high in vitamins A, B6, and C. it’s also a good source of lycopene, which is good for your heart, and potassium, which helps steady your blood pressure. And, since a watermelon is over 90% water, it helps keep you hydrated on hot days!
I’ve always managed to pick good watermelons–I don’t remember ever buying a bad watermelon. It doesn’t hurt to know a few helpful tips when you’re choosing one, so you might find these helpful the next time you buy a watermelon!
- You may find the best selection at your local farmer’s market, since watermelons sold at grocery stores are often picked before they are fully ripened–once a watermelon is picked from the vine, it usually doesn’t ripen that much more.
- Look for a watermelon that has a uniform, symmetrical shape, smooth texture, and free of bumps, dents, and bruises–lumps mean the melon didn’t have a regular amount of sunshine or water while growing.
- Look at the skin of the watermelon-it should have definite dark and light green strips and should be dull rather than shiny–shiny means it’s not ripe (some grocery stores sell melons with skins that have been waxed, so this tip may not help in that case).
- Check the bottom of the watermelon (also called the “field spot” or “belly”)–you’ll want to see a creamy, buttery yellow color there–that means it’s ripe (you don’t want to see a white or light green bottom).
- A ripe watermelon should feel heavy for its size–pick up some watermelons that are the same size and compare their weight–the heaviest one is the ripest and juiciest.
- If you tap the watermelon and it sounds hollow, that means it’s ripe. If it sounds dull, that means it’s under-ripe or over-ripe.
- Store an uncut watermelon at room temperature (This is said to raise its levels of lycopene by 20 percent). Wash and slice the watermelon within a few days of purchasing it. A cut watermelon can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for 3 to 5 days. Serving idea: make a glaze of lime juice, honey, and chopped mint–drizzle over watermelon slices.
- You can freeze watermelon chunks to use in smoothies (you won’t want to freeze watermelon for eating, though–the texture gets soft when thawed). You can also freeze watermelon juice in ice-cube trays to add to lemonade, ice tea, or punch.
- Use watermelon in these easy recipes: Make watermelon skewers by pairing watermelon chunks or balls with any combination of the following: large blackberries, strawberries, honeydew or cantaloupe chunks or balls, mango chunks, pineapple chunks, cucumber slices, banana slices, feta cheese chunks, pitted black olives, cherry tomatoes. Add watermelon to summer salads (with some feta cheese) or just toss watermelon and feta cheese together for a refreshing “salad.” Make an easy watermelon salsa with diced watermelon chunks, diced cucumber, chopped cilantro, minced jalapeño pepper and some lime juice. Drink some Watermelon Lemonade–just puree 2 cups of small seedless 1/2-inch watermelon cubes and mix into 1 quart of lemonade. Enjoy some Watermelon Granita–In blender or food processor, puree 4 cups of small seedless 1/2-inch cubed watermelon, 1/2 cup sugar, and 2 Tablespoons lime juice. Pour into a 9×13″ container and place in freezer. Stir with a fork every 30 minutes until mixture is slushy, up to 2 1/2 hours.
- Snack on the watermelon seeds: Toss 1 cup raw watermelon seeds, rinsed and dried, in a little olive oil, sea salt, and/or spices of your choice. Toast on a parchment-lined baking sheet at 325˚F for 10 to 15 minutes. Watermelon seeds have fiber, protein, and magnesium.
Have you used any of these tips yourself? Do you have any other watermelon tips of your own?
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