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Seasonal Produce: Watermelon

Named for its high water content—over 90%—watermelon is one of two main melon categories. This all-American favorite is actually native to Africa. In arid climates where water supplies are scarce, watermelons are an essential thirst quencher.

Purchasing

  • Select whole watermelons that are symmetrical in shape, heavy for their size and free of bruises, cuts and dents.
  • A ripe watermelon will have a creamy yellow spot on its underside where it sat on the ground during ripening. Avoid those with a white spot as this indicates the melon was picked early.
  • Cut watermelons should have dense, firm, brightly colored flesh and black seeds. Avoid any with white seeds and grainy pale flesh.
  • Refrigerate whole watermelon for up to 1 week. Not only does it taste better cold, but chilling prevents the flesh from becoming dry and fibrous.
  • Refrigerate cut watermelon in plastic wrap or airtight plastic containers for up to 2 days.

Preparing

  • Wash outside of whole watermelon before cutting. To make wedges, cut melon lengthwise into halves. Cut each half crosswise into quarters and each quarter into 3 or 4 wedges.
  • Use a gadget called a melon baller to scoop perfectly shaped spheres from watermelon halves. The melon balls make a pretty addition to fruit salads.
  • To easily cube watermelon, cut the ends off. Stand melon up on one flattened end and use sharp knife to cut off rind in strips from top to bottom. Cut peeled melon crosswise into slices. Stack a few slices and cut them into cubes.

Nutrition

  • Good source of vitamins A and C.
  • Naturally fat and sodium free.

Serving

  • Toss watermelon balls or cubes into salads for extra color and flavor.
  • Jazz up your favorite JELL-O mold by stirring in watermelon chunks along with other fruits.
  • Thread watermelon balls or chunks onto small bamboo skewers along with other summer fruits for colorful kabobs. Serve with a yogurt dip.
  • Replace some of the fruit in your favorite fruit salsa with chopped watermelon.
  • Add eye appeal and great flavor to summer punches by stirring in juicy, pink watermelon cubes.
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