Which watermelon hits the sweet spot for you?
A Seasonal Roots member makes some new discoveries about an old fave:
I grew up in central Florida in the Sixties, back when finding the perfect watermelon was simple: It was the one that sounded hollow when you knocked on it at the roadside stand. That told you it was ready to sweetly quench your summer thirst.
Sweating in the humid sunshine, my little sisters and I could hardly wait for our dad to hoist our perfect, massive melon into the (un-airconditioned!) car.
Back home, he’d cut it open on the backyard picnic table with a knife the size of a small sword. We’d eat it right out there, because with all those spittable seeds and drippy juice, watermelon was best eaten outside. In bathing suits. That way our mom could just hose us off afterward.
For kids everywhere, then and now, some things never change.
But back when I was a kid, it seemed like all perfect watermelons were the same: They were big and heavy. They were neon pink inside. And they were stuffed with hard black seeds — perfect for seed-spitting contests.
There’s a science to achieving top seed-spitting velocity. Fill lungs with air. Draw tongue back like a poised piston. Then: Fire mouthful of seeds out through tightly pursed lips with an explosive puff of the cheeks.
It’s a finely honed skill.
Only if you were very young, very old, or very lazy would you settle for weakly poking them out of your mouth with your tongue to dribble down your chin.
But I digress.
More than one perfect watermelon
So let’s dive into what makes for a perfect modern-day watermelon.
Nowadays, the perfect watermelon can be large or small. The first time I came across one of the smaller, personal-sized watermelons I thought it was genius. With just my husband and me doing the eating, no way could we eat an entire old-fashioned watermelon before it went to waste. Here was a watermelon that was perfectly sized for just us.
The perfect watermelon can also be yellow inside instead of pink. I found the first yellow watermelon I ate oddly distracting. Still, it tasted fine.
But then there is the seedless watermelon. The first time I saw one, I ranted: “Seedless watermelon? Does that even qualify as watermelon? What is childhood without special memories of seed-filled-watermelon-eating?!! Without seeds, eating a watermelon would be no different from eating, say, a banana. I have no special memories of banana-eating!”
My husband said calmly, “I never liked eating watermelon because the seeds were annoying. They made it too inconvenient to bother with.”
For him, the perfect watermelon is seedless.
I was gobsmacked. Well, you learn something new everyday.
Watermelon is the perfect health food, too
Anything that you eat like it’s dessert can’t actually be healthful, right? So I always assumed that, healthwise, watermelon was at best neutral.
It’s so sweet that it’s hard to believe it could actually be low in sugar. But it is. That makes watermelon the perfect health food in my book, because it sure doesn’t taste like it’s good for you.
Meanwhile, it’s high in vitamins A and C. Studies also suggest watermelon may lower blood pressure and reduce risk of cardiovascular disease. Plus the lycopene in watermelon could help protect the body from UV rays and cancer. Sign me up!
It never occured to me to eat this summer treat any other way than the way I always had, no recipe required. And then I came across it in a salad. It was deee-lish! Now I’m all about adding it to all kinds of things. Here’s that original salad recipe:
Watermelon Salad with Mint and Crispy Proscuitto
(I substituted bacon for the proscuitto because that’s what I had on hand. And everything’s better with bacon.)
And here are a few more recipes, enough for a whole meal of watermelon:
Creamy Watermelon Smoothie (For this one, I sub honey and cream-top whole milk instead of the sugar and fat-free stuff. Decadent, I know.)
Watermelon Popsicles (Because, summer!)
So what’s your perfect watermelon? What’s your perfect way to eat it? Share it with the rest of us on the Seasonal Roots Facebook page!
Seasonal Roots member
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Since 2011, Seasonal Roots’ online farmers market has connected Virginia families with local family farmers who use sustainable, humane practices. Our veggie fairies – mostly moms and dads who believe in living better through scrumptious, healthy eating, being kind to animals, protecting the environment, and spreading joy – home-deliver freshly harvested produce, eggs, grass-fed dairy and meat, plus artisan fare. We empower our members to eat better and live better with more nutritious, flavorful food that’s good for us and good for the planet. More info at seasonalroots.com.