Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Watermelon Whisperer

In the good old days of the the 1980's, watermelons had seeds: big, black seeds that were perfect for watermelon seed spitting contests.  What ever happened to the seeds?  How do they even grow watermelons without seeds?  When will we stop drawing pictures of watermelons with seeds?
Vintage Watermelons.
The perfect watermelon is a matter of personal opinion.  For me, the perfect watermelon is sweet, crisp, and juicy, without the slightest hint of being grainy.  I seek perfection when I search for the perfect watermelon; is that too much to ask?
Here is my unsolicited advice for choosing a watermelon.  When you approach the giant cardboard box at the supermarket full of watermelons, take a deep breath and dive in.  Not really, although sometimes I think it would be easier on my back to just crawl in there, but rather prepare yourself mentally for the task ahead.  Melons that sit in the field longer, ripening, have a discoloured ring where the melon makes contact with the ground.  The longer is has been ripening, the more yellow it will appear.  Look for a melon with skin that is not too shiny, which indicates under ripeness, or too dull, which indicates the dreaded grainy texture inside.  Next, hold the hopeful candidate with your fingertips if you can manage to do so without dropping the melon.  Using your other hand, knock the melon and listen for a nice hollow sound.  If anybody looks at you quizzically, or questions your methods, maintain the air of confidence.  You are the watermelon whisperer.

Boris Kustodiev's Merchant's Wife
She knows the watermelon secret.
Once back in the confines of your kitchen, crack that melon open and evaluate the lottery ticket on which you just gambled, because here is the real secret: there is no way to pick a perfect melon.  I have tried every "tried and true method" and it is still a fifty-fifty chance of picking a lemon instead of a melon.
The good news is that you can still be a watermelon whisperer.  When I used to pick a bad melon, I would half-heartedly nibble on some but mostly leave it in the refrigerator, taking up valuable space until it was mushy enough to discard out of food-safety concern, which is justifiable, rather than pickiness, which is inexcusable!  However, there are several things that you can do with a subpar watermelon, and here are a few ideas:

1.  Dehydrated watermelon.  It tastes like candy.  It takes quite a long time in the food dehydrator, but well worth the effort if, like me, you have a sweet tooth.  You can either simply cut slices and lay them out on the dehydrator trays, or you can blend the watermelon with other fruits and make fruit leather.  I am eating some as I type this: quite delectable.
The fruit leather never makes it to a storage container.  Yum.

It gets eaten as soon as it's ready!



2.  Popsicles.  Puree your lousy watermelon and freeze in a popsicle mould.  Straight watermelon is good, but you can also mix it with other fruit purees or juices too.  The watermelon is pretty sweet, especially if it is overripe, so the possibilities are endless since you aren't limited by adding sour fruit.  Some ideas:

  • Watermelon, strawberry, and fresh lemon juice
  • Watermelon, nectarine, apple & apple juice
  • Watermelon, blueberry, raspberry
  • Watermelon, cantaloupe
  • Watermelon, kiwi
The potential combinations are endless.  I've even seen some pretty creative and inventive recipes like watermelon/mint, watermelon/green tea, watermelon/ginger.

Watermelon nectarine strawberry pops waiting for another hot day.  
3.  Watermelon Lemonade.  Puree the runner-up and add the puree to your lemonade.  Strawberries in there are lovely too.

4.  Watermelon Ice.  Have you ever lamented the fact that ice cubes, while purposeful, water down your drinks?  Add some flavour by freezing watermelon puree in an ice cube tray and add to your drink instead of ice cubes.

5.  Watermelon Jam.  I haven't tried this yet but there are oodles of recipes for it and it sounds scrumptious.

6.  Watermelon Syrup.  Sadly, sometimes jam does not jam up.  Bonus = failed jam can be used as syrup on your pancakes!

7.  Pickled Watermelon.  I have been hearing about pickled watermelon rinds for years but never actually tried it.  I always pictured it as pickling the rinds from pieces that people had been eating from, but of course you could just cut the watermelon and rind apart.  Silly me.  Waste not, want not!

Enjoy!  Any other ideas out there that I missed?

1 comment:

  1. Oh how I miss wattermellons with seeds, they truly tasted so much better. And the seed spitting was of course a HUGE bonus (family record holder here...).
    Watermellon smoothies... any combination of fruit with a little yogurt or ice cream YUMMY summer goodness.

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