August 3rd is National Watermelon Day (July is National Watermelon Month).
A summer favorite, watermelon so refreshing because of its extremely high water content. (Like a glass of ice water, it’s even more refreshing when chilled.)
Watermelon is the juiciest of melons, about 92% water by weight. The water keeps the calorie count down: just 30 calories for 2/3 cup.
Watermelon is always welcome on the table, but you can add some excitement by seeking out yellow watermelon. It’s sweeter than the red variety.
Our tip: Check around for yellow watermelon. And while you’re add it, Why not mix yellow and red: on a platter of slices, in fruit salads and on skewers (how about with with ciliegine, small mozzarella balls?).
Yellow watermelons lack lycopene*, the compound (and antioxidant) that produces the red color in its sister watermelon, tomatoes and red grapefruit.
Most of us have only seen red watermelon. But beyond seeds-versus-seedless, there are more than 1,200 cultivars of watermelon, from pink flesh, orange flesh and white flesh to black rinds [source].
The exterior or yellow-flesh watermelons looks exactly like the red variety. The color of the flesh was a natural mutation in Africa, where watermelons originated and still grow in the wild.
The wild melons are a bitter fruit with hard, pale-green flesh. Over millennia, farmers produced the tempting fruit we know today.
First cultivated in Africa some 5,000 years ago, watermelon seeds have been found in King Tut’s tomb as well as in the villages of common folk.
As the melons were bred for rosier color over millennia, the lycopene content increased, resulting in the rosy red color of our current watermelons.
Yellow watermelon is prized for its sweetness. The yellow flesh has a sweeter, honey-like flavor as compared to red-fleshed melons, but the nutritional benefits are largely the same (the red flesh has more lycopene).