Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Cool off With Watermelon

Imagine my surprise when I purchased a Sugar Baby watermelon from Rosedale Farms in Simsbury, CT, brought it home, sliced it open and found yellow flesh inside! I was shocked and delighted since I had never before tried yellow watermelon. The difference in taste to pink/red flesh fruit was very subtle, but as I’ve read, it was sweeter with an almost honey-like flavor.

If you normally buy whole watermelons, here is a useful piece of information. Watermelons kept at room temperature, ~70°F produce more of the carotenoids lycopene and beta-carotene than fruit stored at 41°F or 54°F. In one study, the researchers found an 11-40% increase in lycopene and a 50-139% increase in beta-carotene compared to the fruit stored in the cold.

Of course, once the fruit has been cut, it should be wrapped or placed in a sealed container and refrigerated to maintain its freshness and to avoid drying out. The good news about this is that another study found that minimal processing–meaning cutting, packaging, and refrigerating–had no effect on the nutritional content of the fruit even after nine days. This is good news and means that keeping your watermelon at room temperature before it is cut will help to increase it’s nutritional value and it can be preserved by storing it chilled after cutting. I was happy to read this since I like to make watermelon slush as a cool treat this time of year.

Enjoy sweet, juicy watermelon while it’s in season. By the way, besides red and yellow, watermelons can also produce orange or white flesh; I’ve never seen either, though. Have you? How did they taste?

You can read more about this and additional information on watermelon at The World’s Healthiest Foods.

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