Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Spotlight On Produce: Watermelon

As the dog days of summer are upon us, I thought this week's spotlight should be an item that is essentially summer. I'm not a fan of hot weather, for more reasons than I can list, but one of the things I look forward to is the bounty from the vegetable garden, and the pure and simple pleasure of eating a nice, juicy watermelon.

My favorite way to enjoy watermelon is sliced with the rind on, but it also performs well in fruit salads, or pureed and frozen as a sorbet.

Watermelon grow on vines on the ground and are related to cantaloupe, squash and pumpkin. They can be round, oblong or spherical with a green rind and range in size from one pound to over ninety pounds. Watermelon can be found year round, but they are sweetest and of best quality in the summer.

Watermelon is high in Vitamins C and A, as well as the antioxidant lycopene, which has been studied for it's cancer fighting properties. One cup of watermelon contains only 48 calories and is over 90% water, making it an excellent choice for quenching thirst.

When choosing a whole watermelon, look for one that is heavy for its size with a rind that is relatively smooth and that is neither overly shiny nor overly dull. In addition, one side of the melon should have an area that is distinct in color from the rest of the rind, displaying a yellowish or creamy tone. This is an indication that the melon was harvested at the proper time. When choosing cut watermelon, look for flesh with a deep color and no white streaks. If there are seeds, they should be deep in color as well. To prevent foodborne illness, wash the rind of the watermelon with soap and water before cutting into it.

What are some of your favorite ways to prepare watermelon?

1 comment:

Jen said...

We just love it plain. I can say that I don't like dried watermelon!

I read recently that for the best lycopene benefits, you should let your watermelon sit at room temperature for 3-4 days before chilling or eating it. Then move it to the fridge & enjoy.