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Watermelon 101

Everything you need to know about watermelon, including the different varieties, how to cut watermelon, how to store it, and nutrition information.

Picture of watermelon slices on a white background

What are watermelons?

Well this mystery is best solved by breaking it down.

Water: Watermelons are 92% water by weight!

Melon: Okay these are very loosely defined as melons. They’re actually (scientifically/botanically) classified as a type of berry, a berry called a pepo. But if you’re from Oklahoma, you likely don’t consider it a fruit at all, as the watermelon is the official Oklahoma state vegetable.

Call it what you will, watermelons originated in southern Africa but quickly made their way around the world. In America it’s usually eaten cold as a sweet snack. In China the seeds are eaten as a snack, and the rind is cut up like a vegetable and put into stir fries and stews. In Japan “cubic watermelons” have become a bit of a novelty. The watermelon is grown in a glass box and the fruit takes the shape of the box. Clearly there are a million and one ways to prepare these things, and this week we’ll find a few more!

Picture of watermelon slices on a white background

How to pick the perfect watermelon

Watermelons reach peak season between May and August. You’ll want to look for the most ripe melon in the grocery, because these don’t get any sweeter after being picked (like bananas do, for example). Gently thump on the melon. If it has a hollow sound, it’s ripe.

Variations of watermelon

Did you know there are 1200 varieties of watermelon? SO MUCH WATERMELON! But there are 4 main types of watermelon: icebox, picnic, yellow/orange, and seedless.

Icebox: 5 to 15 lbs (can fit in an icebox)

Picture of icebox watermelon on a white background

Picnic: 15 to 50 lbs (a big picnic I guess)

Picture of large picnic watermelon on a white background

Yellow/Orange: 10 to 20 lbs with yellow skin and fruit

Picture of yellow watermelon on a white background

Seedless: I did some digging into these and it’s actually pretty neat. First off, they’re not GMO. They’re made by cross-breeding a specific male watermelon flower with a specific female watermelon flower to produce a sterile (unable to reproduce) watermelon. This variety does still have seeds, but they’re very small, soft, and white.

How to cut watermelon

Call me lazy, but one of the most motivating reasons for me not to buy a watermelon is the thought of having to cut the thing up. But with this handy trick for cutting watermelon, there’s way less mess and the pieces are easier to eat! Just cut it in half and lay the flat side down. Then slice into roughly 1 x 1 inch pieces and serve!

How to cut watermelon on white background
How to cut watermelon on white background

How to store watermelon

Uncut watermelons are generally good for about 10 days. Cut watermelon should be covered tightly and stored in the fridge for about 4 days.

Watermelon nutrition information

per 1 wedge (1/16 of a watermelon)

  • Calories: 86 calories
  • Carbohydrates: 22g
  • Fiber: 1g, 5% Daily Value (DV)
  • Protein: 2g
  • Fat: 0g
  • 39% DV of Vitamin C: A water-soluble vitamin that acts as an antioxidant to fight against potentially damaging free radicals (molecules with unshared electrons that float around wreaking havoc) and an important cofactor in collagen synthesis.
  • 33% DV of Vitamin A: Provides the provitamin version of this fat-soluble vitamin, meaning it comes from a plant source and your body converts the plant pigment into active Vitamin A. It is essential in many components of healthy vision, as well as immunity and cell growth/differentiation.
  • 9% DV of Potassium: A key mineral and electrolyte involved in countless processes, including healthy nervous system functioning and contraction of the heart and muscles.

Hi, I’m Sarah!

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