Fresh, juicy, and perfectly pink, watermelon is the ideal addition to any cookout or dessert spread. While we like to enjoy simple wedges of ripe watermelon, there are a multitude of recipes that can elevate this mighty melon, taking it from good to great.
History of Watermelon
Watermelon is one of the most consumed fruits on the planet; there are over 1000 varieties of watermelon worldwide all with unique attributes, aromas, and flavors. Watermelon was first cultivated in Africa before spreading to the rest of the world. In fact, watermelon seeds have been found at archeological sites dating back thousands of years. Clearly, humans have been eating and enjoying watermelon for quite some time!
Varieties of Watermelon
Watermelons are part of the cucurbit family which includes cucumbers, gourds, pumpkins, zucchini, and other melons. These creeping, ground-growing plants require lots of water to grow their famous fruit. Given that there are so many varieties of watermelons it should come as no surprise that they can vary in size from 2 lbs up to 350 lbs (!) and range in color from yellow to coral to dark red.
Cooking with Watermelon
Watermelon makes a great addition to any fruit bowl, but you can also use watermelon for savory applications as well. We love thin slices of watermelon in salads. Try substituting papaya for watermelon in this delicious Pork Salad with green beans and cherry tomatoes. Or if you have trouble finding peaches, you can substitute watermelon in this Liguarian Chicken Salad for a burst of fresh flavor.
Shopping and Storing Watermelon
When shopping for watermelons there are a couple tricks you can employ to make sure you pick the perfect watermelon every time. Look for heavy, round watermelons that are uniform in size; elongated watermelons will be watery – skip those. Flip your watermelon over and look at the bottom. Is there an orange spot on the bottom with lots of webbing? Then you have yourself a perfect watermelon. The darker the spot, the longer it sat in the field getting ripe. Skip watermelons with a pale white underside. Lastly, make sure your watermelon is dark green and dull, a shiny exterior means the melon isn’t ripe yet.