There may be no other fruit that’s as closely tied to summer as the beloved watermelon. Sweet and juicy as it is, it's also a nutritional powerhouse, full of lycopene that boosts the health of the eyes, skin, heart, and prostate gland. Now that watermelons are in season, it's time to enjoy all they have to offer. (Whether you're starting your first garden or switching to organic, Rodale’s Basic Organic Gardening has all the answers and advice you need. Get your copy today!)
There are all sorts of conflicting theories about how to choose the ripest melon—thump it, look for dull skin, feel how heavy it is, camp out next to the vine and grab it as soon as the stalk turns brown. But one method that everyone seems to agree on is to check the underside of the melon for a patch of yellow. That spot—which is where the watermelon touched the ground—turns yellow when the fruit is ready to pick. If it’s green or pale white instead of creamy yellow, it was picked too soon.
Watermelon tastes best when it’s ice-cold, but the fruit holds on to more nutrients when it’s kept at room temperature. So keep it on the counter or tabletop and pop it into the fridge just long enough to get it nice and frigid before serving.
Even though the edible part is on the inside, you should give the outside of the melon a warm water wash with one of these 3 Simple Homemade Fruit and Veggie Washes and dry thoroughly with a clean cloth before you carve it. Otherwise, bacteria on the outside might be transferred to the flesh of the melon while you’re cutting. If that sounds like overkill, consider all the people who probably manhandled that melon at the market, looking for the best one. Once the melon’s sliced, don’t eat any pieces that have been sitting out unrefrigerated for more than two hours.
Watermelon is one aptly named fruit. A large wedge can hold more than a cup of water. Which makes it a tasty way to replenish the fluid your body loses on a hot summer day—especially for kids who balk at drinking as much water as they should. Keep some slices in the fridge or bring a container of cut-up chunks with you when spending time outdoors.
There’s surely nothing wrong with eating freshly sliced pieces of cold watermelon. But if you’re ready to try something else, try a watermelon smoothie that’s as refreshing as it is easy to make—and add it to your repertoire of fruit smoothie recipes.
When it’s too hot to cook, you can make watermelon part of a cool evening meal by making this Minty Watermelon Salad with Feta Cheese.
We all love our watermelon cold. But if you like your watermelon really cold, try a sweet, slushy watermelon granita. You can vary the recipe by tossing in whatever other fruit you have on hand.