While most of us can remember enjoying watermelons in the summertime as far back as childhood, it may be surprising to find out that today there are around two hundred different watermelon varieties grown. The traditional oblong green watermelon with pink flesh and black seeds is no longer the only choice. Today there are seedless varieties as well as the traditional watermelons with seeds.
Watermelon varieties that are the sweetest are grown in the warmest regions. Many watermelon varieties have been developed for the cold northern regions but most of them still take at least 90 days to sweeten. Wherever you live, you can find watermelon varieties which are bred to grow in your region.
A watermelon will not sweeten further after being picked, like some other vegetables and fruits. That means harvesting has to be done in a timely manner. When you are picking out a watermelon, look for the one that are heaviest and has a rind that is hard to the touch. Pick up the watermelon and look underneath. There should be a cream color or yellow on the bottom of the melon where it had been lying on the ground. This is the major indicator of ripeness.
Today watermelons can have flesh which is yellow, orange, red or pink. Regardless of the variety, watermelon is very nutritious. It is over 90% water. A 1-2/3 cup serving (one wedge) has 91 calories, 27mg vitamin C, 331 mg potassium, 1.77 grams protein, 20.54 grams carbohydrates, and 1.43 grams fiber.
One of the biggest health benefits of watermelon varieties is that it contains a large amount of the antioxidant, lycopene. This antioxidant has been shown to help prevent some forms of cancer and heart disease. Tomatoes are the only food with more lycopene than watermelon. In addition, vitamin C and vitamin A can help fight disease and strengthen the immune system.
All of the 200 watermelon varieties fall into one of four different categories of watermelon. They are either considered to be icebox, picnic, yellow flesh or seedless. The icebox and picnic watermelons are the most common. An icebox watermelon generally weighs from five to fifteen pounds. It’s green on the outside and can be pink or yellow inside.
The picnic watermelon is the one most people think of when asked about watermelon varieties. It can weigh anywhere from fifteen to forty-five pounds and is oblong in shape. The skin can be light or dark green and often has stripes. Although pink used to be the only choice for the flesh, now you can also choose yellow.
Yellow-flesh watermelon is becoming more common. Most have rind that is very light green with faint stripes. The inside is anywhere from pastel yellow to a brilliant orange. The shape is either oblong or long. A yellow watermelon might weight anywhere from ten to thirty pounds.
The biggest change in watermelon varieties is that now seedless watermelons are available. They are often round with flesh that is yellow or red. Size is in the 10 to 25 pound range. Some seedless watermelons do have light, chewable seeds.
No matter which of the watermelon varieties you prefer, most all are available year-round. They are cheaper in the summer. They are also a fun plant to grow in the backyard if you have the room. Kids love to watch watermelons grow. Even if you live where there is a short summer season, you can still grow a nice, sweet watermelon that tastes great.