See also melon.
There may be nothing more refreshing on a hot summer day than a cold slice of watermelon. With a very high water content, this large melon of the Citrullus genus has sweet, moist flesh that ranges from yellow to pink to deep crimson. Growing in various sizes and colors, all parts of the watermelon are edible. Asian cuisines use the roasted seeds, and watermelon rind is pickled and enjoyed in many parts of the world.
Over 1,200 watermelon varieties are grown worldwide, but the 50 grown throughout the United States can be classified into four categories:
AllSweet—These oblong melons have dark green rinds, with or without stripes. They have red flesh and weigh in at 20 to 25 pounds.
Ice-Box—Round in shape, these melons have dark or light green rinds and red or yellow flesh. At 5 to 15 pounds, they're small enough to fit in the refrigerator.
Seedless—Oval to round, these melons weigh 10 to 25 pounds. They have light green rinds with dark green stripes and red or yellow flesh.
Yellow Flesh—These long to oblong melons have light green rinds with mottled stripes and flesh that ranges from yellow to bright orange. They weigh from 10 to 30 pounds.
Watermelons are available in many areas year-round, but they're best from May through September (particularly mid-June to late August). Select firm, symmetrically-shaped melons without any flat sides, bruises, cuts or dents. They should feel heavy for their size.
To check for ripeness, you can slap the side of the melon to see if it resounds with a "thump." A more reliable method is to turn the melon over. If it has a yellow underside and an overall healthy sheen, the melon is probably ripe.
Watermelons are also sold in halves, quarters or slices. When buying pre-cut melon, the flesh should appear firm, juicy and brightly colored. Avoid any that look grainy or dry and make sure the melon is tightly wrapped.
If you have enough space, store whole melons in the refrigerator for up to one week. Otherwise, keep in a cool, dry place for up to four days. Cut melon should be tightly wrapped and refrigerated for up to three days.
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