Is watermelon a fruit or a vegetable? Interestingly, it can be considered both. Watermelon is botanically a fruit like the pepper, tomato, and pumpkin, and a vegetable like squash and cucumber. This large, sweet fruit originated from southern Africa.
Did you know? Watermelon is 100% edible.
There are 200-300 varieties of watermelon from different parts of the world. Watermelon has a smooth exterior rind and a juicy, sweet interior flesh. It is most often eaten raw, but can be added to desserts, salads, and beverages, and can be cooked, grilled, or baked.
The seeds have a nutty flavor and can be ground, dried, or roasted. The rind contains fiber and potassium, and is rich in citrulline. You can pickle the rind, use it in a smoothie, and make rind preserves and gazpacho.
Farmers plant seeds or seedlings in a nursery and then transplant them into well-drained rows or raised beds of soil. They are grown in warm, sunny climates. One plant grows into multiple vines, 6 to 8 feet in length. Honeybees are needed to pollinate the yellow blossoms from which the watermelon grow. The melons are ready to harvest in about 90 days.
Watermelons are packed with water and nutrients, have very few calories, and may help lower blood pressure, improve insulin sensitivity, and reduce muscle soreness.
Watermelons are available today with seeds, seedless, and in mini size. Picking the best watermelon is as easy as, “Look, Lift, Turn! Look for a firm watermelon that is free from bruises, cuts or dents; light scratches are all right. A watermelon is 92% water by weight and is therefore very heavy. When turned over, the underside should have a creamy yellow spot from where it sat on the ground and ripened in the sun. Farmers do not recommend thumping, patting, slapping, flicking, or knocking. But if you insist on trying the thump, a ripe watermelon will have a dull, muffled, or hollow sound like a pong; an unripe watermelon will have a metallic, clear ring like a ping.
Sources: watermelon.org/watermelon-101/facts-faqs; onlyfoods.net/types-of-melon; vitacost.com/blog/watermelon-rinds; healthline.com/nutrition/foods/watermelon
Recipe – Watermelon Apple Salsa
1/2 of a medium-sized watermelon
2 granny smith apples
1 Tbs. olive oil
2 Tbs. fresh mint
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
Zest of 1 lime
1 Tbs. fresh lime juice
A pinch of sea salt
- Cut the watermelon and apples into 1/4”-thick matchsticks.
- Chop the mint and cilantro.
- Zest the lime and squeeze out the juice.
- Toss all ingredients gently to mix together.
- Best served chilled and before the apples begin to brown.