How much fun is it to sit on some porch steps or on a big rock and spit watermelon seeds. (I know, seedless watermelons not only exist, they are the most popular watermelon in the US.) Maybe even have a contest. Okay – so not everyone gets as much of a kick out of it as I do, but it has been fun since I was a kid.
Watermelon was – and still is – a treat. It certainly finished off lots of camp meals and family picnics. How great is sweet, juicy watermelon on a hot day? What about the college special: watermelon infused with vodka – or when money was scarce, grain alcohol? And, how pretty are those intricate carved watermelon baskets filled with watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew balls? Labor intensive. My mother was good at that.
A Melon With History
The first recorded watermelon harvest was in Egypt, nearly 5,000 years ago. Now you can find more than 1,200 varieties which are are grown in 96 countries. Watermelon, 92% water and 6% sugar, is a cousin of cucumbers, pumpkins, and squash and is the most consumed melon in the US, followed by cantaloupe and honeydew.
Some Watermelon Trivia
- Because of its water content, watermelon is a volume food. It fills you up and quenches your thirst and is great for weight control.
- 1 wedge (about 1/16 of a melon, 286 g) has 86 calories, no fat, 22g carbs, 1g fiber, 2g protein.
- 10 watermelon balls (122g) have 37 calories, 0 fat, 9g carbs, 0g fiber, 1g protein
- 1 cup of diced watermelon (152g) has 46 calories, 0g fat, 11g carbs, 1g fiber, 1g protein
- Two cups of watermelon chunks will supply 25% of your daily vitamin A, 30% of your daily vitamin C, B6 (6%) of B6; 8% potassium, 4% phosphorus, and 8% magnesium as well as beta carotene and lycopene (red flesh melons).
- The inner rind is edible and has a bunch of hidden nutrients. The outer rind, also edible, is sometimes used as a stir-fried or stewed vegetable or pickled condiment.
- When you buy a watermelon look for one that is firm, symmetrical, and free from bruises, cuts, or dents. It should be heavy for its size and its underside should have a creamy yellow spot from where it sat on the ground while it ripened in the sun.
- Whole melons will keep for 7 to 10 days at room temperature but lose flavor and texture if they’re stored too long. They’ll keep for three to four days in the fridge after they’re cut.
I love the combination of sweet and salty – with a sweet/sour dressing. Here’s a recipe for a great watermelon, feta, and greens salad that is low in calories and fat.
Mediterranean Watermelon Salad
Ingredients: (adapted from watermelon.org)
- 6 cups torn mixed salad greens
- 3 cups cubed seeded watermelon
- 1/2 cup sliced red onion
- 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 1/2 cup watermelon vinaigrette
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Mint sprigs
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1/4 cup pureed watermelon (puree chunks in a food processor)
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
Make vinaigrette. Whisk together all ingredients; store in refrigerator; shake well before using. Makes about 1/2 cup.
In large bowl, mix all salad ingredients except vinaigrette, pepper, and mint. Just before serving, toss salad mixture with vinaigrette. Garnish with pepper and mint sprigs.
Makes 6 servings. About 75 calories per serving.