Mmmmm good, taste that last-minute of summer watermelon

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Mmm, mmm good! Mmm, mmm good!  Home grown watermelons are mmm mmm good!

Folks at the USDA Office Building in Brewton enjoyed strolling through the “watermelon patch” searching for the biggest, sweetest, watermelons that were perfectly ripe for the picking!  For us, this passage marked the end of the watermelon growing season, and time for a “watermelon tasting party”! The last hurrah of summer!   Yum Yum!

Here are some tips to follow in selecting your watermelons next year.  Be sure to clip and save these tips.

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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 percent 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. Both Kay Burnham of the Farm Service Agency, and James Miles, Regional Extension Agent for Commercial Horticulture, agree on this note – that if the curly tendril on the vine closes to the melon looks dry or wilted then it’s ripe and ready to be picked. If the melon has already 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). Seeded watermelon varieties should have dark brown or black seeds. Seedless melons have edible white seeds that look like cucumber seeds.

Storage Tips

Once picked, watermelon will not ripen easily. If unripe, try putting the whole melon in brown 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 Value of Watermelon

Watermelon is true to its name. It is more than 90 percent water by weight, so it is quite low in calories. For less than 100 calories, you can have a hearty snack of 1 2/3 cups of watermelon chunks.

Besides having a palate-pleasing sweet taste and possessing hydrating properties, watermelon packs a nutrition punch. Watermelon is high in natural antioxidants that may protect our bodies. Watermelon is an excellent source of B-6, potassium, vitamins A, C, which promote healthy skin and a strong immune system.

Watermelon is one of the best sources of lycopene, which is a natural pigment usually associated with tomatoes. Lycopene provides the rosy red hue to watermelons. Eating foods that are good sources of lycopene may help prevent diseases including cancer and heart disease.

Nutrition scientists also have been studying the citrulline in watermelon. This natural compound is converted by our body to arginine, which is an amino acid (protein building block). Arginine may play a role in promoting heart health.  Be sure to enjoy some ripe, juicy watermelon while it is in season.   Source: J. Garden-Robinson NDSU Extension Service Food and nutrition specialist.  We have pamphlet ANR-784 Watermelon Carving Tips available for you.  If you are interested in getting one, call our office at 251-867-7760 and we will put a copy in the mail or stop by the office at 175 Ag Science Dr. in Brewton and pick up a copy.

This fresh salad is full of juicy watermelon, feta cheese, and mint leaves. Perfect for summer, this easy watermelon salad will be a hit at your next picnic or potluck.  Enjoy!