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Watermelon
 

The watermelon plant is a climber or a trailer or a vine like structure, originally from South Africa. Scientifically known as the Citrullus lanatus, it belongs to the family Cucurbitaceae. The fruit produced by this plant is called pepo by the scientists. This fruit has a thick rind (exocarp)and has a soft edible pulp (endocarp or mesocarp)on the inside, usually with a lot of seeds. The sweet and juicy flesh ranges in colour from pink, red to yellow.

Watermelon is a tasty and filling fruit, which is low on calories and has absolutely no fat. Though, it is mostly the pulp which is consumed, but the outer shell and seeds are also consumed in many countries. In many Asian countries, roasted watermelon seeds are eaten as a snack. The rind is used in the form of pickles, jams, etc.

 
Watermelon Varieties

  • The Moon and Stars Variety: This variety is one of the oldest known varieties, and has been cultivated since the 1930's. These black watermelons are purple/black from the outside, having yellow circles. The weight of an average watermelon of this variety ranges from 9-23 kgs. The flesh is pink or red and it has brown seeds. This variety is ready for harvest in about 90 days from its day of plantation
  • Yellow Watermelon: This watermelon variety derives its name from the colour of its pulp, which is yellow in colour. It is sweeter than all the other varieties and has a distinct honey like flavour
  • Orangeglo: Orangeglos' are a watermelon variety, which have an orange pulp. They are large in size,have an oblong shape and an average fruit weighs about 9-14 kgs
  • Cream of Saskatchewan: They are a small round variety, which are around 10 inches in diameter. The rind of this variety is thin and is usually light green with dark green stripes. It has a sweet white flesh with black seeds. These melons take about 80-85 days to become ready for harvesting
  • Melitopolski: This variety comes from the Volga River region of Russia, and has small round fruits of 28-30 cms in diameter. This variety of watermelons ripens early and takes 95 days from plantation to harvest
  • Dansuke Watermelon: This variety is round in shape, has a black exocarp, with no spots or stripes. They are only grown on the island of Hokkaido in Japan. The average selling price of this variety is usually around 25,000 yen.
 
 
Nutritional Profile
A watermelon is approximately 92% water, and is an excellent thirst quenching fruit. It is full of phytonutrients, and is also a good source of vitamins A, C and has ample amounts of potassium, thiamine, etc.

Nutritional Value Per Serving
  • Vitamin A: 10%
  • Vitamin C: 25%
  • Vitamin B6: 10%
  • Vitamin B1: 10%
  • Magnesium: 7%
  • Potassium: 5%.
 
Watermelon Benefits
  • Watermelon is a rich source of lycopene (40% more than present in tomatoes), which is an antioxidant that helps fighting various heart diseases and prostrate cancer
  • A slice of watermelon meets your daily quota of Vitamin C
  • Eating watermelon regularly helps fight infections, as they comprise of beta carotene, which the body uses to make Vitamin A. If the body does not have enough amounts of beta carotene, the body becomes more susceptible to viral infections and can also lead to problems related to vision
  • It is one of the rare fruits, which have ample amounts of citrulline, which is an amino acid that plays an important role in wound healing and cell division
  • Rich in potassium, watermelon help in soothing stress
  • Eating watermelons also helps you in reducing weight, as it quenches cravings. High in liquid content, a bowl of watermelon makes you feel full and adds only 96 calories to your body
  • High concentration of Vitamin B in the fruit, helps in producing necessary energy for the body
  • Regular consumption of watermelon prevents erectile dysfunction, lowers blood pressure, improves insulin sensitivity and also provides protection against macular degeneration.

Is it Sweet?

The question almost never skips our mind, when we are buying watermelons. Buying melons is a gamble, as one cannot say if they would be sweet or not. Buying them cut is easier, as the ones having a deep colour without the presence of any white streaks are the indications of a sweet flesh. While choosing a whole watermelon, care should be taken to purchase a heavy one, with a rind, which is neither too dull nor too shiny. Also, the base of the fruit should be of a lighter yellow shade, as this shows that the fruit was allowed to ripen with the yellow portion resting on the ground. The even coloured small watermelons are generally the ones, which have been picked before they were fully ripe, and therefore suffer in their taste, texture and juiciness.

Getting Experimental with Watermelon

  • Watermelon Slush: In the sweltering summer heat, smoothies are more than welcome. Watermelon slushies are an excellent way to beat the heat. De-seed the watermelon, add lime juice, little sugar, some water, black pepper and crushed ice. Put all the ingredients in the blender, blend till smooth and then serve chilled
  • Watermelon Salad: Sliced onions and diced watermelon with seasoning make an effective summer salad. Watermelons can be combined with almost any fruit to make a healthy and filling salad
  • Watermelon Yogurt: Mix watermelon with yogurt and blend, then chill in the refrigerator and then serve. It forms a low cal dessert, which can be enjoyed by the entire family
  • Fruit and Cream: Watermelon may be scooped in the shape of balls along with other fruits. Take fresh cream and some icing sugar and then whisk till smooth. Pour this mixture over the fruit balls for a refreshing taste
  • Watermelon Juice: De-seed the watermelon and then blend it in a mixer. After all the lumps disappear, strain the mixture. To this mixture add water, salt, sugar, pepper and the concentrate on a few mint leaves. Serve in a glass filled with ice.
Unknown Facts

  • In Vietnam, watermelons are an important part of the new year celebration (Tet), as their colour is considered to be auspicious
  • In the Mexican culture, the watermelons are related to the dead, as an art related to the Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos, which depicts watermelons being eaten by the dead or are shown in close relation with the dead
  • The African Americans were often depicted as eating the fruit with inordinate relish, in racist caricatures
  • Watermelons are extremely popular in the southern United States, and a watermelon seed spitting contest is organized at Georgia's Redneck games every year
  • Carved watermelon is worn like hats by the CFL's Saskatchewan Roughriders' fans to imitate the helmets worn by the players
  • In Australia, watermelon has political connotations. The term watermelon is used to denote environmental political groups, implying that these parties are green on the outside and red on the inside.