Enjoy Watermelon All Summer Long!
Watermelon is a great summertime treat and also very nutritious!
Nashville, Ark. – A fond memory I have from childhood is visiting my grandparents who ran a local fruit stand. He was known all over for the best watermelons. People would stop by on their way to the lake just to pick out the right melon. The best ones were those that spent hours in the cooler getting chilled! I can just taste the goodness!
Watermelons are not only a favorite summertime treat; they are also very nutritious! They are naturally sodium free and fat free. Watermelons provide vitamins A and C, which are antioxidants that are good for you. Antioxidants have been found to help reduce the risk of heart disease and certain cancers. Vitamin A helps maintain good eye health and helps keep skin healthy. Vitamin C helps protect skin from bruising, helps heal cuts and scrapes and keeps gums healthy. Another benefit of Vitamin C is it helps other nutrients do their job. Eating foods with vitamin C helps the body absorb iron.
Watermelon also provides some minerals, especially potassium and magnesium. Potassium helps maintain blood pressure. Magnesium helps build and maintain strong bones.
My grandpa was a thumper when it came to choosing a ripe watermelon. I never acquired that skill. I must use the look, lift and turn method when choosing a ripe watermelon. Look the watermelon over. It should have a smooth skin free from bruises, dents or cuts. It should be firm and heavy for its size. Turn it over to look for a creamy yellow underside that indicts it ripened on the vine. If you want to thump, listen for a dull, muffled, hollow sound. Underripe melons will have a metallic, clear ring. If it “pongs”, it is ripe. If it “pings” then it is under ripe. Once you pick the right watermelon, they can be stored at room temperature until fully ripe. Then they should be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Wash the outside of the melon before cutting to remove and dirt and bacteria. Dirt is a host for bacteria including botulism. It can be transferred to the inside of melon when cutting it. In fact, it is recommended to wash any melon including cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon before slicing.
To serve watermelon, cut into wedges or cut the flesh from the rind and cube into 1-inch cubes. Place the cubes in a covered container and store in the refrigerator. Cut watermelon can be stored in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.
While most people enjoy fresh slices of cut melon, there are other ways this tasty treat can be served. Watermelon is great in summertime fruit salads, but it can also be added to chicken, tuna and rice salads. Consider mixing watermelon into fruit salsas to take the heat off the salsa.
Watermelon is great in summertime drinks. Puree and freeze it to use as ice cubes or as a slush drink. Mix watermelon with other fruits and yogurt for a smoothie. You can even grill watermelon to serve alongside chicken, shrimp or ribs!
However, you enjoy watermelon, make it a part of your summertime. While you may be able to purchase watermelon all year long, the best ones are during the summer!
For more nutrition information or healthy eating, contact the Howard County Extension Service at 870-845-7517 or visit our office located on the second floor of the courthouse. I will be glad to share the handout, “How to Choose a Watermelon”.
Recipe of the Week
This recipe was featured last week at the Farmers Market in Nashville. Everyone who tried it thought it was delicious! A great way to cool off on a hot summer day. Choose a seedless variety to make prep time even faster!
3 cups cubed watermelon; seeds removed
½ cup orange juice
- Wash hands.
- Place cut watermelon and orange juice in a blender.
- Put lid on tightly.
- Blend until smooth.
- Drink immediately.
- Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours.
Yield: 3 servings
Note: Use any combination of melon or fresh fruit. Add ice to the blender for a slushy drink that is low in sugar!
- Nutrition information per serving: Calories 70, Fat 0g, Sodium 0g, Carbohydrates 16g, Fiber 1g, Protein 1g, Calcium 15mg, Potassium 244mg
By Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Media Contact: Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852
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