Watermelon, Every Kid’s Favorite Vegetable

That’s right. Watermelon is a vegetable, not fruit. But don’t tell the kids. Watermelon contains many important vitamins and minerals also lycopene, an important antioxidant. Healthy and delicious, watermelon is at the peak of its season now and that means it is also cheap.

45766907 - fresh watermelon juice in the glass on wooden table

Here’s a reliable way to pick out the best melon: Choose a firm, symmetrical watermelon that is free of bruises, cuts and dents. Lift it up. The watermelon should be heavy for its size. Turn it over. On the underside there should be a creamy yellow spot from where it sat on the ground and ripened in the sun. A spot that is white or pale green signals an unripe melon.

Once you get the perfect melon home, you could simply carve it into wedges and serve. But that may get boring after a few melons. Keep these recipes handy and you’ll enjoy watermelon right through summer … and all through winter, too, if you decide to make Watermelon Pickles. Come on, you can do it!

Mediterranean Summer Salad

  • 3/4 cup halved, thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 6 cups seeded, cubed watermelon
  • 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup pitted black olive halves
  • 1 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Place the onion slices in a small bowl with the lime juice. The acid of the lime will mellow the flavor of the raw onion. Let stand for 10 minutes. In a large bowl, combine the watermelon cubes, feta cheese, black olives, onions with the lime juice, and mint. Drizzle olive oil over it all, and toss to blend. Dig in and be prepared for a pleasant surprise! Servings: 4 to 6.

Watermelon Granita

  • 5 cups seeded watermelon chunks
  • 1 cup simple syrup*
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Thin watermelon wedges, cut into strips for a garnish

Puree watermelon in a food processor. Pour into a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Stir in the syrup and lemon juice. Freeze for about 4 hours or until frozen solid. To serve, scrape up granita with a large spoon and place in goblets or ice cream dishes. Garnish with a narrow wedge of watermelon. So yummy! Servings: 4.

*To make simple syrup; Combine 1/2 cup water and 1 cup sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil for one minute. Stirring constantly until all of the sugar has dissolved. Cool in the refrigerator.

Watermelon Smoothie

  • 8 ounces lemon, fat-free yogurt
  • 3 cups cubed, seeded watermelon
  • 1 pint fresh strawberries, cleaned and hulled
  • 1 tablespoon honey or strawberry jam
  • 3 ice cubes

In a blender or food processor, combine yogurt, watermelon, strawberries, honey and ice cubes. Process until smooth and frothy. Serve in tall glasses with a straw. Servings: 4

Watermelon Salsa

  • 3 cups seeded watermelon, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon chopped green onions
  • 1 tablespoon chopped jalapeno pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

In a large bowl, combine the watermelon, green bell pepper, lime juice, cilantro, green onions, jalapeno and garlic salt. Mix well and serve. Servings: 4.

Watermelon Pickles

  • 2 1/2 gallons water
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 gallons (32 cups) watermelon rind, white part only, cut in 1-inch cubes
  • 1 quart cider vinegar
  • 26 cups white granulated sugar
  • 28 whole cloves
  • 14 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks
  • 14 (1-pint) canning jars with lids and rings

Bring the water and salt to a boil in a large, enamel stockpot over high heat. Add the watermelon rinds, and return to a boil. Cook for 20 minutes, then drain the rinds in a colander. Bring the vinegar to a boil with 6 cups of sugar. Remove from the heat, stir in the watermelon rinds, cover, and let stand overnight.

The following day, remove the rinds from the syrup using a slotted spoon, and place them into a clean bowl. Set the stockpot onto the stove over high heat, add 4 cups of sugar, and return the syrup to a boil. Once the sugar has dissolved, remove the stockpot from the heat, and stir in the watermelon rinds, cover, and let stand overnight.

On day 3, repeat the process above, using only 2 cups of sugar: remove the rinds from the syrup using a slotted spoon, and place them into a clean bowl. Set the stockpot onto the stove over high heat, add 2 cups of sugar, and return the syrup to a boil. Once the sugar has dissolved, remove the stockpot from the heat, and stir in the watermelon rinds, cover, and let stand overnight. Repeat day 3 every day for 6 more days.

On day 10, sterilize the canning jars, rings and lids in boiling water. Pack the watermelon rinds into sterilized jars, making sure there are no spaces or air pockets on the sides. Add two cloves and one cinnamon stick to each jar. Return the syrup to a boil, and fill the jars to within 1/4 inch of the top. Top with lids, and screw on rings.

Place a rack in the bottom of a large stockpot and fill halfway with boiling water. Carefully lower jars into pot using a holder. Leave a 2-inch space between jars. Pour in more boiling water if necessary, until tops of jars are covered by 2 inches of water. Bring water to a full boil, cover the pot, and process for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the stockpot from the heat, and let the jars stand in the water for 2 hours off the heat.

Remove the jars from the stockpot and place onto a cloth-covered or wood surface, several inches apart, until cool. Once cool, press the top of each lid with a finger, ensuring that the seal is tight (lid does not move up or down at all). Store in a cool, dark area for 2 weeks before opening. Yield: 14 pints

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4 replies
  1. Rick Box says:

    Watermelon is related to cucumbers and squash, yes. But that’s not a proof of watermelon being a vegetable, because those are also fruits.

    Reply
  2. Audra Hudek says:

    Vegetables come from roots,stems or leaves. Watermelon grows from the flowers and so IS A FRUIT!!! Sorry. But is still healthy and wonderful to eat or drink.

    Reply

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