How to take advantage of and preserve watermelon in summer
The watermelon, water melon (as they say in some countries) or Citrullus lanatus If we get technical, it is native to Africa and is part of the cucurbits, the same family that includes the cucumber, melon and squash in its family tree. The Egyptians ate watermelon 5000 years ago. They are climbing or creeping plants with a common scent (it is easier to recognize the relationship between cucumber and melon “at first smell”, but if you pay attention to the perfume of a raw zucchini you may perceive it).
90% of a watermelon It is water and 6% sugar: a combination that means pleasure and refreshment in high temperatures. Its characteristic color is provided by lycopene, an antioxidant that it has in abundance. The more intense red the pulp, the more lycopene there will be. It provides abundant vitamin C, although we generally attribute this virtue only to citrus fruits. The seeds, rich in vitamin E, can be eaten roasted, and have been used in folk medicine for centuries. The crust is also edible and rich in nutrients: one option is to transform it into a preserve, traditionally used in savory dishes.
If it is whole, that the rind is matte green and without yellowish parts or bumps. Weight is also a good sign: a very light watermelon will not be quite ripe, and therefore, it will not be as sweet. However, be careful: there will always be a more discolored defined area, where the fruit rested on the ground and never got the sun.
If it’s open and you can see inside, make it as red as possible. The more intense the color, the more flavor and sweetness. The white parts will have almost no taste or will be rather bitter.
Should you buy a watermelon cut, it would be important to split it in front of us or keep it in a refrigerator, well wrapped in film. The fruit split at room temperature begins to deteriorate and become contaminated quickly, even more so with its high water content and the climate of its season. Whole, it can last a week in good condition at room temperature, away from direct sunlight. If it is cut, it does not last more than two or three days (and always, we repeat, in the refrigerator).
Very cold, alone and in slices, of course. Also in smoothies or frozen: making watermelon granita and popsicles, combining it with other fruits, is a wonderful way to take advantage of it when you buy it whole, and thus extend its useful life in the freezer. It can be used in savory preparations: not long ago, I shared a watermelon gazpacho, with a lot of olive oil, in this same column (it’s also on my social networks). In general, in those preparations that have fresh tomato, it usually works very well, and goes well with fresh, soft, or feta cheeses. And, if you dare, try adulterating the typical Capresse with watermelon, which is also fantastic.
Cut the red onion very fine, the tomato in rustic cubes (or, if they are cherry, in halves), and take them to a bowl with the watermelon. Garnish with olive, vinegar, salt and pepper, and finish with the fresh herbs broken by hand.
* I am dedicated to communicating a natural diet through recipes that are delicious, as well as healthy. I wrote the books How how and Four-handed. @natikiako nataliakiako.com.ar