Nothing says summer like that first bite into a slice of crisp watermelon, its juice running down your hands and onto a checkered blanket in the grass. This treat offers hydration, potassium and vitamins A, C and B6 aplenty. Seeded or seedless, red, pink, white or orange, watermelon is the quintessential food for your backyard barbecue, a day at the beach or summertime snacking.
The watermelon first tangled its vines through southern Africa, near the Kalahari Desert, where its water storage aided in local tribes’ survival. At some point it crossed the continent and fed Egyptians, whose hieroglyphics from roughly 5,000 years ago depict watermelon harvests. Their pharaoh, Tutankhamun, was buried with the gourds, the proof found in the ancient watermelon seeds inside his tomb. Merchants brought the sweet stuff to the Mediterranean, and it eventually spread to Asia and the remainder of Europe, but it wasn’t until the 16th century that colonists carried it to America.
What to Buy
Do you even lift? You should if you’re in search of the perfect watermelon. This curved cucurbit should be heavy. Keep in mind that 92 percent of its weight is water, so the heftier it is, the meatier. While you’ve got that watermelon in hand, be sure to check for one yellow-green spot: a sign your melon rested outdoors in the sun as it ripened.
How to Prepare
High water content makes for juicy summer eating, especially when a watermelon is enjoyed raw. Slice it up and sink your teeth in, or throw the pulp into a blender for smoothies or gazpachos. Try searing it on the grill (check out page 115 of our July 2015 issue to learn how), or muddling it in a cocktail. Add cubes to salads and salsas for a refreshing recipe pick-me-up. The seeds can be roasted, and don’t throw away that rind. You can pickle it with a little salt, water, sugar and vinegar — a specialty found in our country’s first known cookbook, American Cookery.
And now, a recipe your July 4 picnic spread is just begging for: Salted Watermelon Pops, created by Paul Cassimus of Kings of Pops.
Salted Watermelon Pops
Paul Cassimus of King of Pops has just what you need to beat the heat this summer: Salted Watermelon Pops. (Photo by: J. Paul)
Salted Watermelon Pops
Makes 15 to 20 frozen treats
1 medium-large watermelon
5 to 7 limes, juiced
1/4 teaspoon of sea salt agave nectar, to taste
Cut the watermelon in half, then cut each half into fourths. Scoop the watermelon from the rind and place it into a blender. Blend until liquefied and pour through a strainer into another container to remove the pulp and seeds.
Add 1/4 cup of lime juice and sea salt to the watermelon juice. Pour in a dash of agave and blend well, adding more agave if more sweetener is needed. Pour the mixture equally into pop molds and freeze for roughly 4 to 6 hours. Once frozen, fill your sink with lukewarm water and dunk the molds briefly into the water to loosen them, allowing for easy removal. For best results, enjoy in the sun.