Watermelon season is upon us, and if you have no clue how to pick a ripe one, don’t feel bad — you’re not alone. It can be intimidating and slightly uncomfortable trying to figure out how to select a premiere watermelon. They can be heavy and awkward. Not only that, but you may feel a little self-conscious about tapping, sniffing or doing whatever it is your great aunt told you to do to find the best melon.
Fear no more — I am going to teach you to be a confident watermelon selector! First things first, look at the watermelon. Does it have a creamy yellow belly? If it does than you are in luck because that yellow belly is a good sign. It means that melon had a nice, long rest on a field, getting drenched in the sun. A white or green belly means the melon was harvested too soon and may not be ripe. Second, look at the watermelon’s shape. You found a good melon if it is symmetrical and free from dents and bruises. Third is weight — pick it up. Is it heavy for its size? It should be — that means it’s ripe, juicy, sweet and tasty. Finally, give that watermelon a little knock. If it sounds dull and hollow, then it’s ripe. Now that wasn’t so hard, was it?
Besides being a delicious and refreshing summer treat, watermelon is also a likeably nutritious food. Even the pickiest of eaters enjoy watermelon. That’s good because watermelon is loaded with vitamins A and C, both powerful antioxidants. It’s also a source of fiber, potassium and lycopene. Another bonus? It’s more than 90 percent water, which makes it a great thirst quencher for those hot summer days. And at 80 calories for a 2-cup serving, watermelon is the perfect low-calorie snack or dessert.
There are countless ways to incorporate watermelon into exciting, summer dishes. Cut it into cubes then toss with feta cheese and fresh mint for a unique salad. Slice it into wedges, brush it with olive oil and grill for a delicious side dish. It can also be puréed and frozen into popsicle trays for a fun and refreshing treat. Or make the Watermelon & Tomato Salsa recipe below. And who are we kidding? Watermelon is great just as it is. So for simplicity’s sake, you can always just slice and eat. And don’t throw that rind away — use the recipe below and pickle it instead! Bon appetite and Happy Watermelon Month!
Refrigerator Watermelon Rind Pickles
Recipe developed by Sara Haas, RDN, LDN
Makes about 18 servings
5 cups watermelon rind, sliced into strips, about 2-inches in length by 1-inch* (about ½ of a medium watermelon)
Water, as needed
1 cup water
½ cup white vinegar
½ cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon mustard seed
- Place the watermelon rinds in a large pot and cover with water by about 1 inch. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until rinds are softened, about 10 minutes. Drain and place in a clean glass bowl or jar.
- To the same pot, add the remaining water, vinegars, sugar, salt, peppercorns and mustard seed. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Pour mixture over the watermelon rinds.
- Let mixture stand at room temperature until cool (no more than 2 hours), then tightly cover and place in the refrigerator. (To fully submerge the rind, you can gently place a plate on top of the mixture.)
- Pickles will be ready to eat immediately, but are better if left to sit in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours. Keep refrigerated until ready to eat.
*NOTE: Peel the green skin from the outside of the watermelon, then cut the rind away from the flesh. For more color, leave just a little bit of the pink flesh with the rind.
Watermelon and Tomato Salsa
Recipe developed by Sara Haas, RDN, LDN
2 cups diced seedless watermelon
2 cups seeded, diced tomato
¼ cup diced red onion
1 clove garlic, minced
½ jalapeño, minced (remove ribs and seeds for less heat)
¼ cup chopped cilantro
½ cup fresh lime juice
Salt and pepper to taste
- In a large mixing bowl combine the watermelon, tomato, onion, garlic, jalapeño, cilantro and lime juice. Toss gently until thoroughly combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste and toss. Serve immediately.
NOTE: If not serving immediately, prepare as above, omitting the salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate. When ready to eat, season with salt and pepper, toss gently and serve.