What’s summer without juicy slices of cold watermelon? Not only is this fruit filled with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, it can be used a million different ways. Here’s everything you’ve ever wanted to know about watermelon plus five (sweet and savory) watermelon recipes.
Watermelon season runs from May through September, meaning there is plenty of time to load up on the fruit. Although there are over 200 varieties of watermelon, the most common types are seedless, picnic, icebox, and yellow or orange fleshed. Look for other unique heirloom watermelon varieties at local farmers markets throughout the summer months.
Selecting the Perfect Watermelon
Cracking open a mushy watermelon is just about as disappointing as cutting into a brown avocado. Even so, there are many ways to select a perfect watermelon (ranging from giving the fruit a good smack to sticking a fingernail into the rind) that it’s hard to know what really works.
A good rule of thumb with watermelon selection: choose the heaviest one for its size. The watermelon should be free from blemishes and cuts, dull not shiny, and have a creamy patch.
This cream spot, also referred to as the field spot, shows where the watermelon sat in the field. A deeply colored cream spot usually means the watermelon had long enough time to sit on the vine and sweeten, producing a juicier and sweeter melon.
Just one cup of watermelon provides roughly 20 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C and 18 percent vitamin A. Watermelon also contains B vitamins, potassium, magnesium, phytosterols, antioxidants, and fiber.
Like the name suggests, watermelon is made up of mostly (92 percent!) water, making it a super hydrating fruit. Consuming watermelon is an easy way to stay hydrated during hot summer months.
Watermelon’s main claim to health fame is its antioxidant activity. Watermelon contains numerous potent plant compounds including lycopene, which gives the fruit its vibrant red color.
Lycopene is a known free radical quencher and consuming fruits that contain the compound can help to lower oxidative stress and damage in the body. Oxidative stress can lead to chronic disease, so consuming fruits with lycopene is thought to be protective against diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.