Watermelons are so good for you, it’s their time

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 6, 2016

It’s Watermelon picking time!

Here’s an article I wrote a couple of years ago that’s very timely today:

One of my favorite childhood memories was the BIG 4th of July picnic lunch my grandmother always packed for our family’s celebration. We looked forward to this celebration because of the chance to see to friends and relatives, play games, watch the fireworks, and eat watermelon. You see, we were not allowed to eat watermelon until the 4th of July. Today it’s different because of the new research and variety of watermelons available in the market all year; not just during the summer months.

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A good ripe melon is firm, well-shaped, fresh looking, free of bruises, cuts and dents. Lift it up – the watermelon should be heavy for its size. Watermelon is 92 % water, which accounts for most of its weight. The rind color should be characteristic of the variety. Turn it over – on the under-side there should be a creamy yellow spot from where it sat on the ground. If the melon has a hard, white, or very pale green underside, it is probably not ripe. James Miles, Regional Extension Agent for Commercial Horticulture, stated that if the tendril (stem) on the vine closes to the melon looks dry or wilted then it’s ripe and ready to be picked. If the melon has been picked then look at the stem; if it’s curly, dry looking or has a clean smooth break (from the stem) then it should be ripe. Also you can try the thump method. James says the melon you thump should make a hollow, dull sound.

A cut melon should have a crisp red or orange flesh (some varieties have yellow or orange flesh). The flesh should not be mealy or water-soaked. Seeded watermelon varieties should have dark brown or black seeds.

Seedless melons have edible white seeds that look like cucumber seeds.

Read Carolyn’s full column on our website at www.atmoreadvance.com.




Once picked, watermelon will not ripen easily. If unripe, try putting the whole melon in paper bags un-refrigerated. This sometimes works to ripen them. Watermelons can be kept for short periods of time, up to 2 weeks, uncut at room temperature. Wash watermelon with soap and water before cutting. Once cut, package what is not eaten in closed plastic containers or plastic bags and put back in the refrigerator up to 3 days. Remember that cut melons are aromatic and their smell will penetrate other foods.

Nutritional Facts

There are so many good reasons to include watermelon in your daily eating plan. It’s light, delicious and so good for you. REALLY! It’s a quick and easy way to fulfill your 5+ servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Watermelon is also fat free, nutritionally low in calories, considered an ideal diet food, high in energy… making it a great energy boost! Watermelons are mostly water — about 92 percent — but this refreshing fruit is soaked with nutrients. Each juicy bite has significant levels of vitamins A, B6, C, lots of lycopene, antioxidants and amino acids. There’s even a modest amount of potassium. Plus, this quintessential summer snack is fat-free, very low in sodium and has only 40 calories per cup. The watermelon also contains fiber, which encourages a healthy digestive tract and helps keep you regular.

Scientists have taken notice of watermelon’s high lycopene levels — about 15 to 20 milligrams per 2-cup serving, according to the National Watermelon Promotion Board — some of the highest levels of any type of fresh produce. Lycopene is a phytonutrient, which is a naturally occurring compound in fruits and vegetables that reacts with the human body to trigger healthy reactions. It is also the red pigment that gives watermelons, tomatoes, red grapefruits and guavas their color.