# 1: Look for the yellow spot.
#2: Save the cooling for last.
# 3: Wash before cutting.
#4: Stay hydrated.
#5: Make a smoothie.
#6: Enjoy it with cheese.
#7: Freeze it.
RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA— 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.
But 25 years ago, watermelons were also the source of the worst pesticide poisoning in North America. A pesticide called aldicarb had been sprayed illegally on watermelons in California, which were then shipped to a few other states and Canada. In total, more than 2,000 people were sickened by the pesticide, 6 of whom died. Though the pesticide wasn't approved for use on melons, it was allowed on cotton, dry beans, peanuts, soybeans, sugar beets, citrus fruits, and sweet potatoes. Finally, after a quarter century of pressure from health advocates, the Environmental Protection Agency has initiated a phase out of the chemical, citing new evidence suggesting that it no longer meets their "rigorous food safety standards."
Now that watermelons are in season, it's time to enjoy all they have to offer, sans toxic pesticides. Find an organic watermelon grower near you and try one of these 7 ways to enjoy this sweet summer staple.
|# 1: Look for the yellow spot.
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.
|#2: Save the cooling for last.
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.
|# 3: Wash before cutting.
Even though the edible part is on the inside, you should give the outside of the melon a warm water wash, 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 (just like you did). Once the melon’s sliced, don’t eat any pieces that have been sitting out unrefrigerated for more than two hours.
|#4: Stay hydrated.
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.
|#5: Make a smoothie.
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.
|#6: Enjoy it with cheese.
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.
|#7: Freeze it.
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.
Filed Under: RECIPES
Published on: August 14, 2009