Watermelon is a beloved summertime fruit often found at picnics, barbecues, and other outdoor gatherings. It adds a sweet and juicy flavour to any dish and can be paired with various ingredients to create a unique and flavourful meal.
What is Watermelon?
Watermelon is a sweet and refreshing fruit that is loved by many. Its juicy texture, sweet flavour, and mild aroma make it the perfect sustenance for hot summer days.
Watermelon, or Citrullus lanatus, is a member of the Cucurbitaceae family, which also includes cucumbers, pumpkins, and squash.
It’s believed to have originated in Africa, where it was cultivated as early as 2000 BC. Today, it’s grown in many countries worldwide, including the United States, China, and Turkey.
Watermelon is typically a large, round, oblong fruit with a hard, green rind and juicy, sweet flesh ranging from bright pink to deep red.
But that’s not all. There are heart-shaped watermelons and even square watermelons in Japan! They’re matured in a square box so the fruit adapts to the shape.
Most of us are familiar with the reddish pink flesh with black seeds, but many other flesh colours are available – from pale yellow to peach, pink and deep red.
The fruit is composed of about 92% water, making it an excellent food for hydration. It’s also low in calories, with a one-cup serving containing only 46 calories.
Rich in vitamins A, C, and B6 and high in antioxidants such as lycopene and beta-carotene, it’s got its fair share of health benefits.
Whether you enjoy it as a snack or use it in recipes, watermelon is a delicious and healthy fruit that is sure to satisfy your taste buds.
Types of Watermelon
There are about 50 different types of watermelon, each with its own unique flavour, texture, and appearance. Here are some of the most common watermelon varieties:
Seedless: Seedless watermelons are popular because they’re easier to eat than seeded watermelons. They’re also often sweeter and have a softer texture than seeded watermelons.
Picnic: Picnic watermelons are the ones we are most familiar with. They are typically larger than other watermelon varieties and can weigh up to 13kg (30 pounds) or more. Picnic watermelons have a tough, thick rind that protects the juicy, sweet flesh inside.
Miniature: Miniature watermelons are smaller than traditional watermelons, making them an excellent choice for smaller households. They’re also easier to transport than larger watermelons.
Yellow: Yellow watermelons have yellow flesh and a sweeter and less watery taste than traditional red watermelons. They’re also high in beta-carotene, important for maintaining healthy skin and eyes.
Icebox; Icebox watermelons are small, round, and typically less than 5kg (or 10 pounds). Being smaller, they’re perfect for fitting into refrigerators, hence the name!
What Goes Well with Watermelon?
So many lovely ingredients, listed below for ease of use.
Fruit and Vegetables
Blueberry, cabbage, celeriac, cherry, cucumber, endive, fennel, honeydew, kiwi, lettuce, onion, pomegranate, rocket, rockmelon, strawberry, tomato.
Herbs and Dairy
Basil, bocconcini, buffalo mozzarella, butter, coriander, cottage cheese, feta , goats cheese, gruyere, kaffir lime leaf, mint.
Protein and Other Ingredients
Bacon, balsamic vinegar, salmon.
What Does Watermelon Taste Like?
Flavour: The sweetness of the watermelon is very prominent, with a taste that is often described as a mix of honey and sugar. This sweetness is due to the natural sugars found in watermelon, mainly fructose and glucose.
In addition to sweetness, watermelon has a subtle, refreshing flavour. You may also notice a slight tanginess in the taste of watermelon, especially if the fruit is not fully ripe.
Watermelon also has a mild, fruity aroma that adds to its overall appeal. The scent of watermelon comes from the organic compounds present in the fruit, including lycopene, beta-carotene, and other antioxidants.
These compounds not only give watermelon its characteristic aroma but also provide numerous health benefits.
Texture: The first thing you will notice when you bite into a slice of watermelon is its juicy texture. The flesh is soft and almost melts in your mouth.
When it comes to the taste of watermelon, many factors can affect it. The ripeness of the fruit, the climate in which it was grown, and the variety of watermelon all play a role in determining its taste.
Some varieties of watermelon have a sweeter taste, while others are more tart or even bland. Seedless watermelon tends to be sweeter than seeded watermelon.
How to Use Watermelon in Salads and Side Dishes?
Watermelon is a versatile and delicious fruit that can be used in various salads and side dishes. Although most commonly known for use in sweet fruit salads or fruit platters, you’ll be surprised just how many ways you can use it for savoury dishes.
Its sweetness pairs well with salty and savoury ingredients such as feta cheese, olives, and nuts. Try making a refreshing yellow doll watermelon salad with bocconcini or a watermelon salad with cucumber and tomatoes with a tangy vinaigrette.
It’s actually the perfect ingredient for adding a touch of sweetness to savoury dishes or creating a refreshing twist to classic salad recipes like this watermelon panzanella bread salad, which pays homage to the traditional Italian tomato bread salad.
Or try adding watermelon to a classic Caprese salad for extra freshness.
Have you ever tried grilling watermelon on the BBQ as a refreshing side dish? Grilling watermelon adds a smoky flavour and caramelises the natural sugars in the fruit, creating a delicious, savoury-sweet flavour.
The heat also causes the water in the fruit to evaporate slightly, making the texture denser and chewier. You must try this if you haven’t! So fun and tasty!
We love adding watermelon to our summer salad recipes! They’re so versatile, affordable and readily available. Experiment with different recipes to discover your favourite ways to use watermelon in the kitchen!
Salads and Side Dishes with Watermelon
A quick 4-ingredient salad that is super vibrant for those warm summer days with sweet watermelon, crispy apple, refreshing mint and buttery pine nuts. The savoury tamari lime dressing adds depth and amplifies the sweetness of the salad, making it deliciously perfect for easy entertaining.
Time for a little sweet treat with our watermelon fruit salad as we combine refreshing watermelon balls with dragon fruit, palms seeds and brown sugar boba pearls. This is a cheeky summer fruit salad that is easy to make and devour.
Looking for a quick refreshing summer salad that packs a punch? You can’t go wrong with our 3-ingredient Yellow Watermelon Salad with Mint!
Frequently Asked Questions
Look for a watermelon with a uniform shape, size, and rind colour. It shouldn’t have any odd bumps, lumps, or dark or light spots.
Look for a matte finish rather than a shiny or glossy surface as this can be an indication of an underripe watermelon. A creamy yellow spot is an indication that the watermelon is ripe, not when it’s pale yellow or white.
Other ways to pick a good watermelon:
* Tap the watermelon with your hand and listen for a hollow sound. A ripe watermelon should have a deep, hollow sound.
* It’s heavy for its size. This indicates that it’s full of juice and ready to eat.
* Sugar spots and uniform stripes are additional signs of ripeness.
When you know what to look for, there’s a much better chance you’ll find a watermelon that’s juicy and oh-so-sweet!
Yes, watermelon can be frozen, but the texture and taste will alter once it’s thawed. As such, while freezing watermelon is possible, it’s not the ideal way to preserve this fruit as it’s likely to be slightly mushy or watery once thawed.
You can use frozen watermelon for smoothies, sorbets, or other frozen desserts. We like eating them at home as frozen fruit in the summer – a healthy and delicious way to keep cool.
Watermelon is best enjoyed fresh, so it’s recommended to only freeze it if you have excess watermelon that you won’t be able to use before it goes bad.
To prevent a watermelon from going bad, it’s important to store it properly. Keep the watermelon in a cool, dry place and avoid exposing it to direct sunlight or heat.
Once cut, store the watermelon in an airtight container in the refrigerator and consume it within a few days.
A watermelon that is rotten may appear dull or sunken, with a discoloured, dark or mouldy spot. The skin may also have a mushy or soft texture in some areas.
It may also have a strong, unpleasant odour that is often described as sour or fermented. If you notice a strong smell when you cut into the watermelon, it’s a sign that it’s gone bad.
Another telltale sign is a slimy or mushy texture. If the flesh feels soft or disintegrates when you press on it with your fingers, it’s a sign that the watermelon has started to rot.
And if all this is not enough for you to tell a watermelon is rotten and you bite into one, the taste will be sour or bitter.
More Ingredient Pairing Ideas:
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