The delicious watermelon is actually a member of the squash family (Cucurbitaceae) but is unique in its sweetness and juiciness. You will find them at your local market in different shapes and sizes: from red to yellow, striped and spotted rinds and weighing from a few pounds to big and heavy. Many grocery stores sell them pre-sliced and ready to eat.
Watermelon Calories and Nutrition
Watermelon is naturally low in calories but high in Vitamin A and C. It is an all-around healthy food. Serve it frequently as both a thirst-quencher and a tasty snack.
Watermelon is high in lycopene, and is second only to tomatoes in its percentage of this important antioxidant. Consuming foods which are rich in lycopene is thought to help prevent heart disease and cancer.
|Amount Per Serving|
|Calories 30||Calories from Fat: 1|
|% Daily Value *|
|Total Fat 0.15g||0%|
|Saturated Fat 0g||0%|
|Trans Fat na|
|Polyunsaturated Fat 0.1g|
|Monounsaturated Fat 0g|
|Total Carbohydrate 7.6g||3%|
|Dietary Fiber 0.4g||2%|
|Vitamin A||11% RDI||Vitamin C||14% RDI|
|Calcium||1% RDI||Iron||1% RDI|
|* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.|
Save When Buying Watermelon
You will pay more for pre-sliced and pre-packaged watermelon but buy only what you can eat within a week. Melons last quite a while if uncut (and when uncut don’t necessarily need to be refrigerated.) Once cut, however, they are only at their best for a few days.
You also will often have the choice between seedless and seed-bearing varieties. Seedless varieties may be more convenient but may cost more.
See our Seasonal Food Calendar — You will find plentiful watermelon choices in June through September, although in many markets you will find imported watermelons year round.
Growing watermelon is easy if you follow a few basic rules. First, always plant the seeds on mounds of dirt. This may sound unnecessary but it encourages deep rooting, and, well, it just works. I have had great luck growing melons even here in New Hampshire where the summers are short and not always hot. I like to plant the seeds directly into piles of manure, or a rich mix of manure and soil. Water the seeds a bit to get them started, but once they get going, just let the plants do their thing. You might want to put a good layer of grass clippings as mulch around the plants to help retain soil moisture. You can also use black plastic which will also combat weeds and help heat the soil.
Save your seeds! If you grow heirloom varieties, you can keep the seeds, however, do not try to do this with commercial varieties. (Seedless varieties are hybrids that do not produce a viable seed) Keep a few dozen dark colored, fully-formed seeds when eating your watermelon. Dry them completely then toss them in an envelope for use next spring. You will save money and you will find that seeds keep well for one or two years.
According to the National Watermelon Promotion Board web site, there are 200-300 varieties of watermelon grown in the US and Mexico, but perhaps 50 varieties are the most common. We looked at three seed companies and their watermelon seeds
If you are going to grow your own, consider 3 categories:
Heirloom varieties – These are old varieties that have been kept alive by seed saving. They are often unusual in some respect; growers keep growing them because they find them well adapted to certain climates and they have traits worth preserving. Look to Fedco Seeds, Johnny’s Seeds and High Mowing Seeds for a selection of heirloom watermelon varieties. I love the Moon and Stars heirloom – the unusual markings on the outside of the melon are unique!
Organic Seeds – Chances are that you will find organic seeds where you find heirloom varieties. Look also to Fedco, Johnny’s and High Mowing for organic choices.
Hybrid varieties – Don’t confuse hybrid varieties with genetically modified – hybrid seeds are the result of natural cross pollination of plants to emphasize and accentuate certain traits. The only downside to hybrids is that you cannot save the seeds. We found a selection of 6 hybrid varieties at Park’s Seed.
There is no better collection of watermelon recipes than at the National Watermelon Promotion Board web site.
Our two favorites are: Watermelon Popsicles and Watermelon Banana Split. So easy to make.
We also love the Watermelon Granita and Watermelon Smoothie recipes at the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension Website.
Consider also a Melon Salsa – easy to prepare and perfect for a summer appetizer served with chips.
It would be hard to beat the collection of fun facts on watermelon assembled by the National Watermelon Promotion Board.
Concerned about Pesticides in Watermelon?
On the Environmental Working Group’s chart of contamination load of common produce items, watermelon ranks toward the bottom of the list, meaning it is relatively low in its tendency to contain pesticides and chemicals.
The Fate of a Watermelon
Ever wondered what happens to a watermelon left out at room temperature? Watch this video on You Tube which tracks its slow decomposition over 9 days.
Amazing Carved Watermelons
Somebody forwarded us an email that apparently has been floating around the Internet lately – it contains photos of carved watermelons made by someone with incredible talent.
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