Watermelon (Citrullis lanatus) belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family. It grows on vines with big leaves and the vines creep along the ground. Watermelons grow in a number of shapes from round to oblong.
Watermelons have a thick rind but the inside flesh is juicy and sweet when the fruit is ripe. The rind is a shade of green with darker green stripes or spots. It’s considered to be a real treat in the summer with its light sweet flavor. The pulp usually has mature black seeds that must be discarded.
Choosing the Best
The qualities to look for when choosing the best watermelon include the following.
- Heavy for its size
- Smooth rind
- No bruises or dents
- Should not sound hollow when tapped
If buying pre-cut watermelon, you can inspect the flesh or pulp. The pulp should have a nice deep color. Also the seeds should be dark colored indicating maturity.
Watermelon is hardy and can be stored at room temperature for up to a week. In fact, studies indicate that the some of the antioxidants in the watermelon will increase when this fruit is stored in a room with a temperature higher than 60 degrees.
If you will not be eating the watermelon within a week after purchase, or you cut the watermelon, then it needs to be refrigerated. Cut pieces should be wrapped with plastic wrap to keep them moist. Watermelon is 92% water and will absorb odors also if not covered.
Preparing and Cooking
Preparing a watermelon to eat is easy.
- Wash the watermelon rind
- Dry the rind
- Slice the watermelon
- Slice into wedges or segments as thick as desired
If you want melon balls for salads or cereals, you can use a melon-baller to remove pulp.
Watermelon is used in:
- Fruit salad
- Ice cream
Of course, some people will swear that the only way to eat watermelon is as simply as possible – a chilled slice or wedge.
Watermelon has a number of important nutrients. It contains plenty of Vitamin A and C. These are important antioxidants for neutralizing the free radicals that damage cells. Antioxidants can lower cholesterol levels, help build a strong cardiovascular system and improve immune system functioning.
Watermelon also has Vitamin B6 which improves energy levels and high levels of potassium and other minerals needed for a healthy heart, healthy organ functioning, and strong bones.
One (1) wedge of watermelon has a significant amount of the following nutrients:
- Vitamin A – 1627 mcg
- Vitamin C – 23.2 mg
- Vitamin B6 – 0.1 mg
- Dietary fiber – 1.1 g
- Folate – 8.6 mcg
- No cholesterol
- Thiamin – 0.1 mg
- Riboflavin – 0.1 mg
- Niacin – 0.5 mg
- Folate – 8.6 mcg
- Calcium – 20.0 mg
- Phosphorous – 31.5 mg
- Potassium – 320 mg
- Magnesium – 28.6 mcg
- Zinc – 0.3 mg
- Copper – 0.1 mg
- Manganese – .1 mg
- Selenium – 1.1 mcg
For a summer light fruit, it’s sure heavy with nutrients!