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Enjoy Watermelon This 4th of July

Celebrate July 4th with a delicious watermelon!

Nashville, Ark. - No July 4th celebration is complete without the sweet, cool, juicy taste of watermelon. If you haven’t enjoyed one this summer, chances are you will have one at your July 4th picnic or barbecue. 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 nutritious for you!

            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 indicates 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 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.

How to serve a watermelon

            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 hope you all have a safe and healthy Fourth of July!

Recipe of the Week

            Here are a couple of non-traditional recipes to enjoy for your July 4th parties. These recipes come from the National Watermelon Promotion Board.

Red, White and Blue Watermelon Sundaes

  • 4 cups watermelon balls

  • 2 cups fresh blueberries

  • Whipped topping

  • Red, white and blue star sprinkles

  1.  Gently mix the watermelon and blueberries.
  2. Divide among 4 sundae bowls.
  3. Top each with a dollop of whipped topping.
  4. Sprinkle with red, white and blue sprinkles.
  5. Serve immediately. Yield: 4 servings


Watermelon Fire & Ice Salsa

  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

  • 2 tablespoons chopped green onion

  • 1 ½ tablespoons chopped fresh jalapeno pepper

  • ¼ teaspoon salt

  • ½ cup diced green bell pepper

  • 3 cups diced seedless watermelon

  1.   Combine lime juice, cilantro, green onion, jalapenos and salt in a small bowl and stir to mix.
  2. Add bell pepper and watermelon and stir gently.
  3. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  4. Goes great with grilled fish, chicken or barbecue. Yield: 6 servings
  1. Nutrition information per serving: Calories-30, Fat-0g, Sodium-98mg, Carbohydrate-7g, Fiber-0, Protein-1 g


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
(870) 845-7517


The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.