Nothing tastes like summer like watermelon

Published 5:49 am Wednesday, July 19, 2006

By Staff
One of my favorite childhood memories was the big Fourth of July picnic lunch my grandmother would pack for our family's celebration.
We looked forward to this celebration because of the opportunity to fellowship, play games, watch the fireworks and eat watermelon.
You see, we were not allowed to eat watermelon until the Fourth of July.
Today it's different because of the new research and variety of watermelons available in the market year round not just during the spring and summer months.
How to Choose Watermelon
A good ripe melon is firm, well-shaped, fresh looking, free of bruises, cuts and dents. Lift it up - the watermelon should be heavy for its size.
Watermelon is 92 percent water, which accounts for most of its weight.
The rind color should be characteristic of the variety. Turn it over - on the underside there should be a creamy yellow spot from where it sat on the ground. If the melon has a hard, white, or very pale green underside, it is probably not ripe.
James Miles, regional extension agent for Commercial Horticulture, states that if the tendril (stem) on the vine closes to the melon looks dry or wilted then it's ripe and ready to be picked.
If the melon has been picked then look at the stem; if it's curly, dry looking or has fallen off then it should be ripe. Also you can try the thump method. James says the melon you thump should make a hollow sound.
A cut melon should have a crisp red or orange flesh (some varieties have yellow or orange flesh).
The flesh should not be mealy or water-soaked. Seeded watermelon varieties should have dark brown or black seeds.
Seedless melons have edible white seeds that look like cucumber seeds.
How to Store Watermelon
Refrigeration at cold temperatures for long periods of time reduces watermelon quality. Store whole watermelon at room temperature or cooler (best at 40 degrees to 50 degrees F). Watermelon carvings, or any portion of a cut watermelon that will be eaten, should be stored in the refrigerator no longer than five days for best quality.
Good Health with Watermelon
There are so many good reasons to include watermelon in your daily eating plan.
It's light, delicious and so good for you. Really! It's a quick and easy way to include more fruits in your meal plan too.
It's low in saturated fat for healthy people over age 2, making it approved to carry the Heart Check mark from the American Heart Association.
Other nutrition facts of a small watermelon wedge, that's 4 x 8 inches, 1 /16 of a 33-pound watermelon, 16 x10 inches are that it has only 155 calories, 35 g carbohydrates, 3 grams protein, 2 grams fat, 559 mg potassium, and only 10 mg sodium.
It is also a good source of Vitamin C, B6 and Vitamin A. Remember, eating watermelon is an excellent way to fulfill your five-a-day requirement for fruits.
A pretty carved melon basket, filled with a variety of colorful fruits or punches, brightens any occasion.
They are perfect for holiday buffets, dinner tables, bridal showers and pot-luck suppers at church.
Carved melon baskets are easier to make than you think. Why not call your local extension office and ask them to send you the free pamphlet called Watermelon Carving Tips Circular ANR-784.
The County Extension office in Baldwin County is (251) 937-7176, in Escambia County it's (251) 867-7760 and in Mobile it's (251) 574-8445.
Here are two refreshing recipes that your family will surely enjoy on a hot July afternoon or at any time. Enjoy!
Watermelon Sherbet
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 cups diced seed watermelon
1 /2 teaspoon salt
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1 /4 cup cold water
1 cup whipped cream
Combine sugar, lemon juice, watermelon, and salt; refrigerate 30 minutes.
Spoon mixture into an electric blender container; process until smooth.
Soften gelatin in cold water; place over low heat and stir until gelatin is dissolved. Add to watermelon mixture, stirring well.
Add whipping cream, and beat until fluffy. Pour into freezer can of a 1-gallon hand-turned or electric freezer. Freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. Yield 1 quart
Watermelon Salad
1 large watermelon
1 cantaloupe
1 honeydew melon
1 pineapple
2 fresh peaches (or nectarines)
2 cups fresh blueberries (or other berries)
Honey-Lime Sauce (optional)
2 tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup ginger ale
With melon ball cutter, cut balls from watermelon. Remove seeds and refrigerate.
Cut balls from cantaloupe and honeydew melons (about 3 cups of each) and remove rind and core from pineapple.
Cut pineapple into bite-sized pieces.
Mix with cantaloupe and honeydew balls; cover and refrigerate.
Just before serving, peel and slice peaches.
Drain melon balls and pineapple chunks. Combine all fruit large bowl. If desired, toss with honey-lime sauce.
Pour fruit into your favorite serving dish or carved watermelon bowl.

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