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?
When hot weather comes around, I usually crave watermelon. It’s so refreshing and it’s good for you too. And I discovered that watermelon is also great for making flavored water! Combining chunks of juicy watermelon with fresh mint and tart limes makes a great-tasting summery drink! You just have to plan ahead a little, since you need to chill the mixture for 1 to 2 hours before drinking.
I buy watermelon regularly throughout the summer and I grow my own mint in a large pot, so I had everything I needed to make this except for the limes. You can make it without limes, but I like the refreshing zing they add to the mix!
WATERMELON-MINT-LIME WATER by NancyC
Makes 1 large pitcher
3 cups cubed watermelon chunks (cut in 1/2″ size cubes)
4 sprigs of mint (a sprig is a stem with 6 to 8 leaves), lightly crushed or rubbed (to release flavor and scent)
2 limes, thinly sliced (use organic limes or wash limes very well!)
7 to 8 cups of water
2 to 3 cups of ice
Add cubed watermelon, mint sprigs, and sliced limes to pitcher, then add water and ice. Chill for 1 to 2 hours to infuse flavors, then serve, pouring into ice-filled glasses. Tastes best the day it’s made.
It definitely does taste best the day it’s made, but you can finish drinking this flavored water up by the second day if you have any left over. It really is refreshing and more fun to drink than plain water! What do you like to add to your water?
I enjoy trying different fruity salsa flavors in the summer months. So far I’ve made Peach Cucumber Salsa, Mango-Jalapeno Salsa, Zesty Watermelon Salsa, Blueberry Salsa, and Savory Strawberry Salsa. I recently found a new one to try at MyRecipes.com. This summery salsa combines watermelon, peaches, basil, and chives, flavored with some lime juice and hot pepper jelly. The pepper jelly makes this quite spicy, so if you don’t like spicy, you could try substituting a peach jelly or jam. The original recipe says to serve the salsa in cups over baby heirloom tomatoes, kind of like a fruit salad, but you can also serve it in a bowl with tortilla chips for more of a snack–just omit the tomato portion of the recipe. Or you can mix the tomatoes right in with the rest of the salsa ingredients. I like it both ways–with or without the tomatoes–so you may want to try both ways, too.
WATERMELON-PEACH SALSA by NancyC, slightly adapted from MyRecipes.comMakes 6 servingsFor the salsa:
1/2 cup hot pepper or red pepper jelly (if you don’t like spicy, use a peach jelly or jam)
1/4 cup lime juice, fresh or bottled
Optional: 1 Tablespoon lime zest
2 cups seeded and diced watermelon
1 1/2 cups peeled and diced fresh peaches (I used a combination of yellow and white peaches)
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
1/3 cup chopped fresh chives
Fresh basil sprigs, for garnish
For the tomatoes:
3 cups cherry, grape, or baby heirloom tomatoes, halved
Salt and pepper, to taste
In a large bowl, whisk together pepper jelly, lime juice, and lime zest (if using); stir in watermelon, peaches, basil, and chives. Season halved tomatoes with salt and pepper to taste, then spoon into cups. Top tomatoes with the salsa mixture and garnish with basil sprigs. Note: if you serve the salsa with tortilla chips, you can omit the tomatoes and serve the salsa in a bowl (you can also mix in the tomatoes with the rest of the salsa ingredients and serve in a bowl that way, too).
Fruit salsa is great for summer snacks! Have you made any fruit salsa this summer?
Having a slice of watermelon is so refreshing, especially in the summer, isn’t it? Fresh strawberries are another favorite summer fruit of mine. So it seemed like a great idea to whip up a strawberry-watermelon drink. This Strawberry-Watermelon Cooler is a mildly sweet, juicy blend of watermelon, strawberries, lime, and honey. It’s not quite as thick as a slush, so I call it a cooler. You can easily turn this into a smoothie by adding 1/2 cup of strawberry or vanilla yogurt and a small banana to the rest of the ingredients to make it creamier. It’s perfect for sipping on during a hot summer afternoon!
STRAWBERRY-WATERMELON COOLER by NancyCMakes 2 large (12-ounce) servings
2 1/2 cups cubed watermelon (seeds removed)
1 cup chopped fresh strawberries (stems removed)
2 Tablespoons lime juice (fresh or bottled)
1 cup ice cubes or crushed ice
1 to 2 Tablespoons honey
Optional: slices of lime for garnish
Put watermelon, strawberries, lime juice, ice, and honey into a blender; blend on high speed until smooth. Pour into chilled glasses and serve. Add a slice of lime for garnish if desired.
Throughout the summer, I love eating slices of juicy watermelon, but I thought I’d try something different with it for a change. I found a Watermelon-Cucumber Salad with Feta recipe at Food.com, and it sounded like the perfect thing to try! I omitted some ingredients and added some others, and I really like the slightly sweet and savory combination of tastes this salad has! It’s a great way to use your garden veggies if you’re growing cherry tomatoes and cucumbers, too!
WATERMELON-CUCUMBER -TOMATO SALAD WITH FETA by NancyCreative, adapted from Food.com
Makes 6 servings
6 cups watermelon, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 medium English cucumber, peeled or unpeeled and thinly sliced or cut into chunks
2 green onions, thinly sliced or chopped (chop the green stems and the white part of the onions)
1/3 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
1 cup cherry tomatoes
2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 Tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
I/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (or you can use a whole 4-ounce container if you want to have extra cheese in your salad)
2 Tablespoons fresh mint, chopped (optional)
Combine watermelon, English cucumber, green onions, olives, and cherry tomatoes in a large salad bowl.
In a small bowl, whisk together lime juice, honey, and olive oil.
Add lime juice mixture to watermelon and other ingredients in large bowl; toss gently to coat.
Sprinkle with feta and chopped fresh mint, if using; toss gently again and serve.
Have you made any unique watermelon recipes this summer?