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Homemaker’s Column: Watermelon: High on the Good Things to Eat, Low on the Bad

August 15, 2022

Christine J. Patrick, County Extension Agent-EFNEP

Watermelon! What could be more aptly named?

Water is the main ingredient. A one-cup serving of watermelon weighs 160 grams. Water makes up 146 grams of that total. Watermelon is high on the list of good things: sweet, yummy, filling, and hydrating. It’s also low on the list of bad things: calories, fat, and cholesterol. A one-cup serving of watermelon has about 50 calories. Served cold, it works as a dessert, as a snack, or as part of a refreshing salad. Consumers have a wide variety of watermelon to choose from during the summer, whether they shop at the supermarket or roadside stands. You can find the usual red-fleshed melons or the more scarce yellow ones. They both come with seeds or without, icebox size or jumbo. It’s a beautiful fruit. Well, it’s related to the cucumber, summer squash, and pumpkins. How do you pick out a good watermelon? Some experts swear by the thump test, which consists of tapping the melon and listening for a hollow sound.

A better method may be to inspect the stem end. A dry, brown stem indicates the melon was left on the vine until it fully ripened. If you are a home gardener and are lucky enough to grow your watermelons, inspecting the tendril closest to the watermelon is the easiest way to decide when to harvest. A brown, shriveled tendril means the melon is ready to eat. When buying a melon, you should avoid the ones that are particularly dirty or have cuts, insect holes, mold, or decay. Rinse the melon before you slice it. Don’t use soap since the porous surface of the melon will absorb some of the residues. Rinsing in clean, cold running water is still the best way to wash produce. Enjoy a slice of watermelon with your family today. It’s an economically priced, tasty, wonderfully drippy treat.

Watermelon Rind Pickles (About 4 or 5 pints)

Pared rind and all pink edges from the watermelon (need 3 quarts or about 6 pounds). Cut into 1-inch squares or fancy shapes as desired. Cover with brine by mixing ¾ cup salt with 3 quarts of cold water. Add 2 quarts (2 trays) of ice cubes. Let stand for 3 to 4 hours. Drain; rinse in cold water. Cover with cold water and cook until fork tender for about 10 minutes (do not overcook). Drain. Combine 9 cups sugar, 3 cups white vinegar, 3 cups water, one tablespoon whole cloves, and six cinnamon sticks. (Spices should be tied in a clean, thin, white cloth.) Boil 5 minutes and pour over the watermelon; add one thinly sliced lemon. Let it stand overnight in the refrigerator—heat watermelon in syrup to boiling and cook slowly for 1 hour. Pack hot pickles loosely into clean, hot pint jars. Add a 1-inch piece of stick cinnamon to each pot from the spice bag; cover with boiling syrup to ½ inch from top. Remove air bubbles. Wipe jar rims. Adjust lids. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath at up to 1,000 feet, between 1,001 and 6,000 feet, and process for 15 minutes. For more information on melons, check out Clemson University’s Home and Garden Information Center website at http://hgic.clemson.edu.

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