Watermelon: A Great Source Of Mess, Fun, And Even Some Vitamin A
Watermelon is perhaps the only exception to Miss Piggy's diet maxim, "Never eat anything you can't lift." Seriously. Watermelons have been known to hit 100 pounds. But don't worry, you don't have to eat the whole thing.
Watermelon is a distant relative of cantaloupe and honeydew, but has a longer history. Watermelons have been cultivated for more than 4,000 years, and are prized in dry climates as a source of potable water (which is 92 percent of the aptly named fruit's makeup). In less-dry climates such as ours, watermelon is prized as a source of mess, fun, and even some vitamin A.
I could make a strong case that there's only one thing to do with watermelon: Sit on the porch in the summer with your brothers, eat giant slices of it, and see who can spit the seeds the farthest.
But if you don't have a porch, or brothers, you can still find a few things to do with watermelon.
Few food questions elicit more varied, interesting, and downright bizarre answers than asking how to select a watermelon. My all-time favorite way is to balance a straw from a broom on the fruit (if the straw rotates, it's a good melon). Once you get past the old wives' tales, there isn't much practical advice. Try to find a heavy melon that sounds solid when you tap it. If you're uncertain, buy a half or quarter so you can see the flesh.
- Make a salsa with chopped onions, bell peppers, watermelon, fresh cilantro, and lime juice. Add a jalapeño for heat.
- Drink it: Puree it with a little sugar, a few mint leaves, and a dash of lemon juice. Or mix half watermelon puree with half lemonade, grapefruit juice, or orange juice.
- Watermelon also makes excellent adult drinks. Turn it into a daiquiri, or substitute pureed watermelon for half the orange juice in a screwdriver.
- Soak watermelon cubes in Cointreau or any kind of fruity liqueur, and serve with sorbet or ice cream.
- Puree watermelon and freeze it in ice-cube trays. Use the watermelon ice cubes to cool summer fruit drinks - anything from lemonade to sangria.
- Make a simple, three-melon soup with pureed watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew melon. If it's too thick, add some pineapple juice. Garnish with sliced pineapple.
If you're more ambitious (or you just have a lot of watermelon on your hands), look for recipes for watermelon jelly, watermelon candy, and watermelon-rind pickles.
Pickled Watermelon Rind
10 cups water, divided 9+1
4 cups watermelon rind, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 cup white vinegar
3 1/2 cups sugar
3 cinnamon sticks
1/2 teaspoon (16) whole cloves
In a large pot, combine the watermelon rind with 9 cups of water over high heat and bring to a boil. Allow to boil for about 15 minutes, or until tender; then drain. Place the watermelon rind back in the pot along with 1 cup of water, vinegar, sugar, cinnamon and cloves. Bring back to a boil for approx. 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the rind is semi-transparent. Allow to cool for 20 minutes then transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate overnight prior to serving.
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