Hi, man. Come on in. You’re welcome to hang out with us for awhile, but don’t expect too much action around here – you see we like things cool and easy. We don’t like to be hassled, man, we just want to chill out with friends. After all, we’re synonymous with long, hot summers and lazy days at the beach, or by a favourite swimming spot, or picnics in the bush or just your own back yard – we’re so cool and refreshing, man.
The most energetic we ever get is when we participate in seed spitting contests. Have you and your friends ever done that – see how far you can spit our seeds? It’s great fun isn’t it – just remember don’t leave a mess or you’ll get us into trouble. Let me tell you more about us.
We belong to the melon family and can be round, soccer ball-size or an elongated, egg shape with smooth, hard, thick, green or yellow skin or rind. Some of us are strongly striped with dark green markings, whilst others are only faintly mottled with dark green. Our flesh can vary from red to yellow and our dark brown seeds are arranged around our centre.
We’re available all year round with our peak being from December to May.
There are many different types of watermelon. The most popular is the Red Tiger – We’re a long, cylindrical melon with dark green skin and dark red, very sweet flesh. We are one of the few melons that have very few seeds, which are dark brown in colour.
Other varieties include:
We’re a medium to large, elongated melon.
We’re large and oval-shaped.
We’re a small, round melon.
We have yellow flesh and are one of the very new seedless varieties.
We grow best in a hot, humid climate and can be grown in a wide range of soils provided they are fertile and well-drained.
We grow on a ground hugging vine which has long, soft, flexible shoots which can be up to 1.8-3 metres long. Each stem has snake-like tendrils which assist the vine to climb. Its leaves are large, bright green, slightly hairy, and have three or five lobes. Its flowers are one sex, with male and female flowers growing separately on the same plant.
We can take up to 4 months after planting before we’re ready to be picked. The best way to judge if we’re ripe is to tap us and if we make a hollow, drum-like sound, then we’re ready for harvesting, by cutting our stem from the vine.
Select those of us with hard-skins which feel heavy for our size and have a pleasant aroma. If cut, choose melon with bright pink to red coloured, firm flesh.
How to Keep Watermelons
We don’t ripen further once harvested. Store us at room temperature for short periods. Once cut wrap in plastic and store us in the refrigerator. Use within 3 days.
We’re thought to have originated from either tropical Africa and India or southern Italy. It is not clear which one is correct. A sweet watermelon is used extensively in Africa and many of our varieties have been derived from this species. We now grow well in many countries, including Australia.
Today, we have been significantly improved and bear little resemblance to the original types.
On a hot day there is nothing quite as refreshing and thirst quenching as a slice of cool sweet watermelon. Our dark green skin and white rind can be removed first or left on to hold the flesh firm. If it is not one of our seedless variety the large flat black seeds can be removed or just spit them out as you eat us. Great fun!
We can be cut in half and our pink flesh scooped out or removed with a melon baller. Fill our shell with fresh fruit or even a savoury salad. Pieces or balls of our flesh can be threaded on skewers for fruit kebabs, added to salads, fruit platters, or pureed for sorbets, soup or a drink.
Don’t discard our rind either. Remove our green skin and pink flesh and cook our white rind as a vegetable. Don’t wait for a hot day, we’re refreshing any time.
Watermelon and Honeydew Iceblock
Scoop out the flesh of a watermelon and honeydew with a melon baller. Thread 3 or 4 balls alternatively onto a bamboo skewer and roll in icing sugar. Set on non-stick baking paper or foil and freeze 1-2 hours. Eat frozen as a delicious real fruit iceblock.
Watermelon Rind, Bacon and Sun-dried Tomatoes
Remove green skin and any pink flesh from the watermelon rind. Grate the rind. Pan-fry chopped bacon and diced red onion until onion is tender. Remove and saute grated rind with minced garlic until tender. Stir in some chopped semi-dried tomatoes and the bacon and onion. Serve as a vegetable sprinkled with a little chopped coriander.
Mix 1/3 cup icing sugar with 3 cups chopped watermelon flesh. Puree and freeze. Spoon into tall glasses alternatively with blueberries and strawberries or just serve over ice cream or fruit salad.