Care of Ashley Sauve
Watermelon is one of the greatest things about summertime. A cool, refreshing slice on a hot, muggy day is the ultimate treat. It seems like this juicy fruit was made to cool us down in the heat, which makes sense as it originated from the warm climates of southern Africa. In fact they are native to the Kalahari Desert, though the first recorded crop was depicted on a 3,000 year old Egyptian tomb using hieroglyphs.
It might seem strange, but this is because watermelons were so nourishing, they were left as food for the afterlife! Watermelon isn’t just a summer comfort food. It packs a pretty solid nutritional punch with its high lycopene content (something tomatoes are recognized for). Lycopene is a carotenoid phytonutrient, vital for cardiovascular health, and has more recently been associated with bone health as well. The light coloured flesh close to the outer rind of the watermelon tends to contain higher concentrations of lycopene as well as flavonoids, phenolic antioxidants and vitamin C. So, be sure to enjoy all areas of the watermelon!
It’s also been recently discovered that watermelons are significantly higher in lycopene when they are allowed to fully ripen. The stage when the flesh turns dark pink or, better yet red, is when the largest jump in lycopene occurs. The betacarotene content of ripe watermelon is also much higher than the light coloured, unripe flesh. Perfectly ripe watermelon will be dark green on the outside, be heavy when lifted, and will have a creamy yellow spot on the bottom. Use these clues rather than tapping the fruit and you should have great luck picking the perfect melon each time!
Watermelon is easily enjoyed alone, but can also be juiced, blended, added to salads, or turned into a frozen dessert.