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Watermelon

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Preview of Watermelon

Available

August 1 - September 15

Harvest Period

August 1 - September 15

Watermelon was placed in the tombs of Egyptian pharaohs for sustenance in the afterlife, so beloved was this juicy, sweet emblem of summer. Since it is related to pumpkin, squash, and other plants that grow on vines along the ground, watermelon is technically a vegetable!

 

What to Look For

 

Choose a firm, symmetrical watermelon free of bruises, cuts and dents. Lift it up – the watermelon should be heavy for its size since it is 92% water. Look for a creamy yellow spot on one side where it sat on the ground and ripened in the sun.

 

Cleaning and Preparation

 

Because melons are grown on the ground, and the rind can easily become contaminated by pathogens in the soil or from manure, it is imperative that they be handled properly before consumption. Scrub the rind briskly with a produce brush before cutting. Bacteria can be transferred from the rind to the flesh of the fruit when cutting. After cutting, thoroughly wash all implements used (cutting board, knife, etc.) with hot soapy water.  

 

Make sure the whole watermelon is at room temperature when you carve since a warm melon is easier to cut than a cold one.  With a sharp knife, cut the watermelon in half and then into quarters.  Cut the flesh into a grid pattern, like a checkerboard, then run the knife between the flesh and rind. The cubes will tumble out and be ready to eat.

 

Storage

 

Whole watermelons should be stored for no longer than 7-10 days at room temperature. If stored in the refrigerator, watermelons develop an off-flavour, become pitted and lose colour. However, once cut, the melon should be wrapped and placed in the fridge for up to 2 days.  

 

Freezing is not recommended as the thawed melon becomes mushy. However, if it is to be eaten in its frozen state, then cut the melon into quarters, remove the rind, and cube the flesh.  Freeze cubes on a baking sheet and, when frozen, pack into freezer bags.

 

Nutritional Information

 

Sweet, juicy watermelon is packed with some of the most important antioxidants in nature. Pink watermelon is a source of the potent carotenoid antioxidant, lycopene. Watermelon is also an excellent source of vitamin C and a very good source of vitamin A. Moreover, watermelon is fat free and nutritionally low in calories. At 92% water, it is a great rehydrater on hot days.

 

One cup of cubed watermelon provides 46 calories, 0g fat, 11g carbohydrate, 1g dietary fiber, and 1g protein.

 

How to Use

 

While most Canadians think only of devouring the raw, juicy flesh, many other cultures stew, roast, and pickle everything from the rind to the seeds. In fact, watermelon seeds are so rich in oils and protein that some heritage varieties are still grown to produce very little flesh and an abundance of seeds for snack foods in Asia.

 

Like other melons, watermelon pairs up well with ham to create a light appetizer; frozen chunks can be added to a smoothie snack; or small dice can be layered with yogourt and muesli to get the morning off to a great start.  An empty, halved watermelon also makes a great container for serving fruit salads (which include watermelon), sorbet, or punch.