by Marie Southard Ospina (Jan. 28, 2015) for Bustle.com
NATIONAL WATERMELON DAY
Watermelon is the perfect fruit to enjoy on August 3rd. It is also National Watermelon Day. Enjoyed by many, it is a favorite at summertime events such as picnics and fairs. Watermelon is 92% water, which is why it is so refreshing.
Watermelon is a vine-like flowering plant originally from southern Africa. Its fruit, which is also called watermelon, is a special kind referred to by botanists as a pepo, a berry which has a thick rind (exocarp) and fleshy center (mesocarp and endocarp). Pepos are derived from an inferior ovary and are characteristic of the Cucurbitaceae. The watermelon fruit, loosely considered a type of melon – although not in the genus Cucumis – has a smooth exterior rind (usually green with dark green stripes or yellow spots) and a juicy, sweet interior flesh (usually deep red to pink, but sometimes orange, yellow, or white).
The fruit was likely first cultivated for its ability to hold plentiful water in a desert landscape, especially since the wild melon was bitter or tasteless. Seeds and art found in tombs of Pharaohs are substantial evidence of the watermelon’s value. Cultivation and breeding brought out the better qualities of sweet and tender fruit we enjoy today.
Watermelons can grow enormous, and you will find competitions across the country which award prizes each year for the largest one. The Guinness Book of World Records states that the heaviest watermelon weighed 262 pounds. To learn more refreshing watermelon facts, check out www.watermelon.org.
HOW TO OBSERVE
Enjoy a slice of Watermelon today and celebrate with the rest of the country! Post on social media using #NationalWatermelonDay.
Better Homes and Gardens™ has a variety of watermelon recipes.
Recipe by Better Homes & Gardens™
Yield: 6 large Martinis
- 5 c. watermelon cubes (rind and seeds removed)
- 3/4 c. lemon vodka
- 6 Tbsp. lime juice
- 3 Tbsp. Cointreau or triple sec
- 3 Tbsp. sugar
- Place watermelon in blender. Cover; blend until smooth. Pour puree into a pitcher and keep very cold, even a little frozen to make it icy.
- For 2 martinis, add one cup of watermelon puree, 1/4 cup of lemon vodka, 2 tablespoons of lime juice, one tablespoon each of Cointreau and sugar to the blender with 3 to 6 ice cubes. Cover; blend until slushy.
Nutrition Facts: Per serving: 150 kcal, 0 g fat (0 g sat. fat, 0 g polyunsaturated fat, 0 g monounsaturated fat), 0 mg chol., 2 mg sodium, 20 g carb., 1 g fiber,14 g sugar,1 g pro.
This non-official American holiday’s beginnings are unknown however some believe it was created by watermelon farms while others suspect it was a creation of the National Watermelons Board.
According to Holidays Calendar, “Biologists and botanists believe that the modern watermelon can be traced all the way back to a vine like plant that grew wild in southern Africa. It has been cultivated by indigenous people since at least the second Millennium BC. From that auspicious beginning, the modern watermelon then spread all the way through Asia over the next thousand years, and eventually made its way into southern Europe by the tenth century. It was then introduced to the New World via European settlers and African slaves by the sixteenth century. By the seventeenth century, it was a commonly grown staple throughout much of the southern United States.
Today, watermelons are grown in almost every state in the U.S. In fact, there are only about 6 states where watermelons aren’t grown commercially. The states which produce the most watermelons are California, Arizona, Georgia, Texas and Florida.”
- Watermelons are mostly water. About 91% of the watermelon by volume is made up of water.
- The seeds and rind of the watermelon are edible.
- Watermelon is both a fruit and a vegetable.
- Seedless watermelons are NOT genetically engineered. They are a result of hybridization.
- Oklahoma’s official State vegetable since 2007.
- Watermelon has more lycopene than raw tomatoes.
Recipe by Betty Crocker™
Yield: 8 Servings
- 8 c. 1/2-inch cubes watermelon
- 1-1/2 c. ginger ale
- 1/3 c. water
- 1 can (6 oz.) frozen limeade concentrate, thawed
- Place watermelon cubes in single layer in 1-gallon resealable freezer plastic bag; freeze 8 hours. Let stand at room temperature 15 minutes.
- In blender, place half each of watermelon, ginger ale, water and limeade concentrate. Cover; blend on medium speed until smooth. Pour mixture into pitcher. Repeat with remaining ingredients; stir into mixture in pitcher. Serve immediately.
- Look for seedless watermelon in the produce department to save having to remove the seeds when cutting the watermelon into cubes.
- Garnish each cooler with a lime wedge and fresh mint leaves threaded on a fancy toothpick.
For Nutrition Information, click here.
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Be careful and have fun celebrating the 4th of July!