- Watermelon is rich in vitamin C – a large wedge of the fruit delivers 35 percent of your Daily Value of the nutrient, which is an essential antioxidant that helps keep cells healthy.
- A wedge of watermelon provides 30 Percent of your Daily Value of vitamin A, a nutrient that helps with healthy vision.
- This mild, juicy melon is also packed with lycopene, an antioxidant that gives watermelon its bright red color.
Humans have been growing this plant ever since it was a vegetable. Seriously: It is a part of the squash and cucumber family, and the first watermelons (which probably grew in Africa) were mostly seed and rind. However, thousands of years of careful cultivation have made the melon sweet, fruity and sometimes huge. The biggest watermelon on record weighed 262 pounds!
Watermelons come in all sorts of varieties, and you can choose one based on how you'd like to use it in a recipe. Some types are seedless, while others have lighter skin or yellow flesh. If you want that quintessential Fourth-of-July watermelon, the Allsweet variety is what you're looking for: about 20 pounds of green-striped rind, dark pink flesh and black seeds.
When are Watermelons in Season?
Its peak season is the summertime, but watermelon is usually available all year at your local supermarket.
How to Choose Watermelons
Ripe watermelons have a distinct look and feel. They're big and heavy, with a dark green rind and a lighter-hued underside. Check a potential watermelon for cracks or bruises, and sniff it to make sure it has that unmistakable melon scent. Then, give its side a good thunk with your palm. If it has a solid feel and makes a slightly hollow sound, this may be the melon for you!
How to Store Watermelons
Keep it in the fridge for up to two weeks. Not enough room in your fridge? No worries. Keeping that watermelon on the counter may be beneficial. USDA researchers found that whole watermelons stored at room temperature have significantly more lycopene, beta-carotene and other nutrients than whole watermelons kept in the refrigerator. If the melon isn't ripe yet, consider wrapping it in a paper bag and storing it in a cool, dry place, like a pantry. You can also freeze a watermelon for a tasty, popsicle-like treat! Just be sure to wash it and slice it into sections or cubes first.
How to Prepare Watermelons
While we usually eat watermelon raw in slices or chunks, it can also be de-seeded and then mixed into salads, blended into smoothies or fire-roasted with meat on a kebab.
Most recipes will call for watermelon in either cubes (diced), balls (cut with a melon-baller), cups (of cubes or balls), or large wedges.
Try using cantaloupe or honeydew in place of watermelon for a cool but slightly stronger melon-y flavor.
Watermelons in Recipes
With one large watermelon, you can make two or three tasty recipes all at the same time.
To start, you can fashion this refreshing and eye-catching Minted Watermelon Basket with little more than a single melon, a handful of fruit and a sharp knife.
With a few cubes of the leftover watermelon, try tossing together a colorful, summery Red, White and Blueberry Salad.
And blend the rest of the pink, juicy fruit into a chilly Watermelon Lemonade that'll give your guests goosebumps! Add a few frozen honeydew balls (they float!) to make it a real crowd-pleaser.