Food Focus: Watermelon

A summer meal just doesn’t seem complete without a big bowl of fresh, juicy, red-ripe watermelon on the table. The peak watermelon season is right now, which means that now is the time to snag the tastiest and most nutritious melons. Learn all about this delcious fruit and then head to your local farmer’s market to celebrate National Watermelon Day.

What does it look like?

Watermelons come in all shapes, sizes, and colors! Your typical melon is large-sized with a bright green, striped rind, and bright red flesh speckled with black seeds inside. In your grocery store’s produce department and at the farmer’s market, keep an eye out for smaller, personal-sized melons (perfect for one or two people), seedless melons, and melons in unusual colors like yellow or orange.

What does it taste like?

This sweet fruit really does live up to its name—each bite is very watery with a slightly grainy texture to the flesh. A perfectly ripe watermelon is almost candy-sweet, but mildly flavored.

Why is it good for me?

Along with its red-fleshed friend tomatoes, watermelon is at the top of the charts as far as high-lycopene foods. Lycopene is a phytonutrient that plays a particularly important role in protecting your cardiovascular and bone health. Watermelon is also an excellent source of Vitamin C and Vitamin A, as well as a good source of dietary fiber. Watermelon is also a great hydrating food. Since it’s so packed with water, it can help you replace water you lost during that hard workout.

When and where do I get it?

Watermelons are available nearly year-round in most grocery stores. But melons picked during off-season are unripe and then ripened during the trip to the store. Unripe melons don’t have near the amount of nutritional benefits of vine-ripened melons. For the best flavor and nutrition, get while the gettin’ is good! Watermelons love hot summer heat and are in season now throughout most of the U.S. So make sure to pick up a watermelon or two at your local farmer’s market or roadside farm stand.

How do I prepare watermelon?

The juicy flesh doesn’t hold up well to cooking, so raw in the name of the game for watermelon. Most folks prefer not to eat the green, hard rind on the melon so cut that off before enjoying the sweet, red yumminess below.

Pro Tips:

  • If you’re into canning, you can make excellent pickles out of watermelon rinds.
  • Frozen watermelon works well as a flavorful, sweet addition to smoothies.

What are some good recipes?

Just because eating watermelon raw is the way to go doesn’t mean you have to stick to just chunks and wedges. Check out some of these interesting twists on using watermelon:

What’s your favorite way to eat watermelon?

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Cassie Johnston is an award-winning food writer and recipe developer living and working in Southern Indiana. Her work has been feature in national publications such as Gourmet Magazine and The Huffington Post. Cassie’s a big fan of strenuous hikes, cheese, watching sports, Brussels sprouts, and craft beer, and she’ll talk your ear off about her love of local food and seasonal eating. She’s obsessed with social media and loves connecting with new friends!