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How to choose a watermelon

With rain, rain, and more rain, summer seems to be over here in the Pacific Northwest.

Melon10 As the fall harvest begins to wind down, be sure to buy lots of watermelon. It’s harder to get during the winter months.

Watermelon is nutritious. One serving has only 51 calories and provides vitamins A, C, and K and potassium. Watermelon also has the phytochemical lycopene, which has protective factors against some types of cancer, according to the University of Missouri Extension.

Look for a watermelon that is firm, heavy, and slightly waxy – not dull – in appearance. Check to see if the melon has a yellow spot on one side. That’s an indication that the melon was allowed to ripen on the vine. If there’s no pale yellow side on the melon, it was probably picked before it was ripe. Watermelons, unlike cantaloupes, don’t improve in flavor or get any sweeter after harvest.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t help to thump a watermelon in the store. While some farmers say thumping watermelons early in the morning in the field helps them determine quailty, thumping a watermelon and listening for a "hollow" sound isn't particularly accurate. Sometimes, that hollow sound actually means the melon has turned to mush inside.

Storing the melon in the refrigerator will help maintain its quality and keep it from becoming stringy and dry. Eat promptly. Watermelons lose their quality after four to five days.

I hope you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy fall watermelon. I’ve been eating it for the last several days. It’s delicious and refreshing.

Copyright 2010, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist


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