Did you know that National Watermelon Day occurs annually on August 3rd? They say you learn something new everyday - and this was it for me! While I have grown up eating watermelon, and consider myself to be a connoisseur in enjoying watermelon, there are some amazing traits I was not aware of!
Here are some tidbits about the favored summertime fruit:
- Originated from southern Africa
- It is a "pepo," meaning a berry with a thick rind and fleshy center.
- It has characteristics of the gourd family.
- Can create interior flesh colors of deep red, pink, orange, yellow and even white.
- Rind can be dark green, dark green with stripes, or yellow spots
- Desert dwellers probably cultivated the first melon -- they were considered bland and bitter.
- Watermelon seeds were found in the tombs of Pharaoh.
- The Guinness Book of World Records records the largest watermelon to be 350lbs in Sevierville, TN.
Here are some recommendations to enjoy this day (outside just slicing it and taking a bite out of it!):
- Host a watermelon party and ask guests to bring their favorite watermelon recipe for everyone to enjoy.
- Google watermelon recipes, like one I have tried and it was really refreshing! Watermelon Mint Mocktail
- Carve a watermelon into a special design or basket.
- Or my favorite: Gather your family and friends around for a meal, and serve up some chilled watermelon slices.
How to pick a ripe watermelon
This is a time-tested generation to generation type gift and depending on where you were raised, there may be some specific rituals you must do to find a good sweet watermelon. The one I grew up hearing about from my grandfather -- the man really had a gift for picking the sweetest watermelons! Thump it -- and if you hear a deep hollow sound, you have a good one. But this is not the only "official" way to tell.
There are a few others:
- Look for the yellow spot where the watermelon has been sitting on the ground. If there is a yellow spot -- then you have a ripe watermelon.
- Pick it up -- it it is heavy, it is ripe.
- The broom straw method. Place a piece of straw from a common household broom across a watermelon. If ripe, the straw will turn. If it is not ripe, the straw will not move. Try it for yourself!
How to eat a watermelon
There really is no wrong way to enjoy a watermelon, but some folks enjoy adding a few basics to their fruit. Which one do you enjoy?
- Salt - in the South, this is an extremely common way to enjoy our watermelon. And the preferred tool is a dinner knife to cut chunks from the wedge.
- Sugar - this just seems a little much, with the fruit already sweet, but some folks enjoy it.
- Lime juice and chili powder - this one was new to me, but apparently it can jazz up one of those under ripe watermelons.
Whether you enjoy a large wedge, smaller triangular pieces, square chunks or even ice cream scooped watermelon, as long as you are enjoying it and sharing with friends and family that is all that really matters. I know of no other fruit that brings people together than the watermelon.