Whoever said there are no holidays in August didn’t know about National Watermelon Day. It’s August 3. We admit it snuck up on us here at WFAEats, so we’re slicing and dicing as fast as we can to get you all the tips you need – along with a few tasty facts to amaze your friends.
Historians believe the watermelon originated in southern Africa where the flowering plant grows wild. Today, China grows more than any other country, about 67 percent of the world’s supply.
A watermelon is aptly named since it contains about 92 percent water. A cup of the fruit contains about 47 calories. Speaking of water, you should wash that melon before cutting into it, although fewer than 40 percent of people do.
Not sure you can pick a good watermelon? Here’s a foolproof method from the National Watermelon Promotion Board. Hint: A yellow spot on the bottom is a good thing.
The entire watermelon is edible, including the seeds and the rind, which is often pickled to improve its bitter flavor. (Contrary to lore, you won’t germinate a watermelon in your stomach if you swallow the seeds.) Here’s a recipe for watermelon rind chutney.
We haven’t met “The Watermelon Guy,” but we already like him. He’s got recipes for making Jell-O shots that actually resemble slices of the fruit, with or without alcohol. A watermelon liqueur produced by the Bols company became popular in Europe and was released in the U.S. in 2014.
Blue cheese, feta, mozzarella, goat, Gouda, and Parmesan cheeses all pair well with watermelon.
Controversy erupted when Oklahoma declared the watermelon its official state vegetable in 2007. The legislature had already chosen the strawberry as its favored fruit. Proponents of the vegetable argument cited the melon’s relationship to cucumbers and gourds.
If you want to grow the biggest watermelon, you’ll need to break Christopher Kent’s record. He grew a 350-pound “Carolina Cross” variety in Tennessee, and shares tips on growing your own here.
Japanese growers devised a way to grow square watermelons that would stack and transport more easily. By planting seeds in glass boxes, the fruits assumed the shape of their containers. The cost of this method made those cute, fruit cubes too pricy – about $83 each – for all but the wealthy.
How do you grow a seedless watermelon, and how do those watermelons produce more melons? We’re glad you asked. According to Wikipedia, “Seedless watermelons are grown from seeds. These seeds are produced by crossing diploid and tetraploid lines of watermelon, with the resulting seeds producing sterile triploid plants. Fruit development is triggered by pollination, so these plants must be grown alongside a diploid strain to provide pollen.” Mystery solved.
If you want to make perfect melon balls, there are more than 200,000 videos to show you how on YouTube. The most popular has over 22 million views.
Everyone loves watermelon, especially kids who have a special affection for the sloppy, slurpy slices. Download coloring sheets, games, craft activities, and recipes for kids at this link from watermelon.org.
The North Carolina Watermelon Association has crowned its 2017 Watermelon Queen: Emma Cannon of Wendell. If you want to enter the pageant for next year, apply here. Murfreesboro (now through Aug. 5) and Denton (Aug. 5 only) are two N.C. towns hosting watermelon festivals. Join a parade, enter a watermelon-eating contest, or try to roll a melon 20 yards down a field using only your own “melon” (head).
We hope these ideas have planted the seeds for you to enjoy all the fun and flavor of versatile, wonderful watermelons!