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Food Focus: Watermelon

Today, I overheard juicy office gossip. Two women were discussing how one had gone completely overboard this past weekend and it caused an argument at home. What had this woman done? She ate the entire watermelon before her husband could even grab a slice. Juicy, right? Get it? Since watermelon is in season, we wanted to delve into the juicy topic of watermelon, specifically: why you should eat it, how you can eat it and some fun facts you may not know.

According to the National Watermelon Promotion Board, “Nutritionists have long appreciated the health benefits watermelon provides. Watermelon not only boosts your ‘health esteem,’ but it has levels of vitamins A and C and a good level of vitamin B6 … Watermelon is the lycopene leader among fresh produces.”

To choose a watermelon, look for one that is firm and doesn’t have any bruising or obvious cuts. Find a watermelon that seems heavy for it’s size. A watermelon is mostly water (it’s not called WATERmelon for nothing), so the heavier it is, the juicier it is inside. The large yellow spot you sometimes see on a watermelon’s exterior is actually a good thing; it indicates where the watermelon sat on the ground to ripen in the sun. A green exterior with the pale spot indicates that a watermelon is ripe. The FDA recommends that you wash the exterior of the watermelon before cutting. You want to be sure any dirt and grit stays away from your cutting surface.

Ways to Eat Watermelon

  • Remove seeds and puree watermelon in a blender. Use for ice pops or freeze in ice cube trays to flavor your favorite beverage.
  • Cut into large rectangles and grill a watermelon “steak.”
  • Cut slices of the watermelon and use cookie cutters to make cut out shapes for a fun snack.
  • Pickled watermelon rinds are very popular in Southern states.
  • Aguas Frescas with watermelon is popular in Mexico – just mix strained watermelon puree with water, honey and lime slices.
  • Traditional watermelon wedges are great for kids to eat with their hands.
  • Add cubed watermelon to your favorite pico de gallo for a refreshing summer salsa.
  • Mix watermelon with feta, cucumber, olives and mint for a light salad.

Fun Watermelon Facts from the National Watermelon Promotion Board

  • The watermelon is cousin to squash, pumpkins and cucumbers.
  • Early explorers used watermelons as canteens.
  • Watermelon is 92% water.
  • The first recorded watermelon harvest occurred nearly 5,000 years ago in Egypt.
  • The U.S. ranks fourth in worldwide production of watermelon.

Find watermelon recipes from the Hamilton Beach Test Kitchen.

Lead photo used with permission from watermelon.org.

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