Watermelon Is More Than Dessert

Picnic with watermelon

A family reunion, summer BBQ, picnic or get together jsut isn’t complete without a delicious slice of sweet juicy watermelon. Watermelons come in all shapes, sizes, red and yellow meat colors and some are seedless. Watermelons are listed as budget friendly because they are 100% edible and one large watermelon can feed up to three dozen people. A watermelon will yield 70% flesh and 30% rind and is a great way to keep you hydrated since it is 92% water! Red watermelon is a good source of the antioxidant lycopene and yellow watermelon is a good source of beta carotene. The antioxidant lycopene, is a phytonutrient that gives watermelon its red color. Lycopene is an antioxidant that helps protect the body against conditions such as heart disease, inflammation and some cancers. Watermelon isn’t just for dessert, it can be used in a salad, on a sandwich, as a snack or grilled. You can enhance the flavor of watermelon with a squeeze of lemon juice, honey, chopped mint, salt, pepper, goat cheese or citrus vinaigrettes. My new experience recently was a delicious Watermelon “BLT” watermelon, bacon and lettuce sandwich! Support your local watermelon growers by shopping local and purchasing a delicious fresh watermelon!

What is the Nutritive Value of Watermelon?
  • Two cups of watermelon has 80 calories
  • Watermelons are 92 percent water
  • Vitamin A (8%)
  • Vitamin B6 (6%)
  • Vitamin C (25%)
  • Potassium (6%)
  • Magnesium (6%)
  • Thiamin (8%)

    Cut seeded watermelon
  • Phosphorus (2%)
  • Lycopene (12.7 mg)
  • Amino acid Citrulline (286-1266 mg),
  • Sodium- free, Fat Free and Cholesterol-free
Four Most Common Types of Watermelon:
Seedless watermelon
  • Seeded: The classic watermelon comes in a wide range of sizes. (15-45 lb. round, long, oblong)
  • Seedless: Due to high demand, the majority of watermelon cultivars grown today are seedless – and they are getting redder and crisper thanks to seed breeding advancements. They are not the result of genetic engineering, but rather hybridization – the crossing of two different types of watermelons. (10-25 lb. round to oblong)
  • Mini: Petite “personal watermelons” are easy to handle and their thinner rinds can mean more flesh per pound. Hollow them out for a compostable serving bowl. (1-7 lb. round)
  • Yellow & Orange: These varieties lack the lycopene that gives red-fleshed watermelon its color, yellow and orange varieties add a surprising element to the plate or glass. (10-30 lb. round)

    Yellow watermelon cut with slices of melon

Selection of Watermelon:

  • Select melons that have no imperfections.
  • Look at the underside for a creamy yellow spot from where it sat on the ground and ripened in the sun. A creamy yellow spot means it is ripe and a spot that is green or white probably means it is not ripe.
  • Look for a firm watermelon free from bruises, cuts or dents.
  • Pick it up. A watermelon should be very heavy for its size since most of the weight is water. (Remember a watermelon is 92% water.)
  • About 3 to 4 weeks of shelf life once cut from the vine.
Washing and Cutting Watermelon:
Washing hands for 20 seconds before and after handling produce.

Let’s look at some safe handling practices to prevent foodborne illness.

  • Wash your hands thoroughly for 20 seconds with warm, soapy water before and after handling fresh produce.
  • Wash the outer surface of the melon thoroughly with cool tap water to remove surface dirt.
  • Scrub the melon with a clean produce brush while washing.
  • Dry the melon with a clean cloth or paper towel.
  • Refrigerate until ready to cut.
  • Using soap or detergent to clean your produce is not recommended.
  • Wash equipment and all utensils that will come in contact with cut melons thoroughly with hot, soapy water and rinse, sanitize, and air-dry.
Why Do You Need to Wash a Watermelon Before Cutting?
Washing melon under water and using brush to scrub of dirt & bacteria before cutting melon.

When you cut through the outer tough part of the watermelon bacteria can get transferred and if you make watermelon rind preserves you want the rind to be clean. Just remember when you slice the melon, bacteria on the outside of the melon are easily transferred to the inner edible area that you eat.

Storing Cut Watermelon
  • Store cut melons in a clean container in the refrigerator at a temperature of 41°F or below.
  • Label the container with the date.
  • Cut melons that are not eaten within a week should be discarded.
  • Uneaten cut melons must be thrown away after four hours if they have not been refrigerated.

    Wrap cut watermelon and store in refrigerator after slicing.
  • You can store your watermelon in the refrigerator.
  • Whole melons will keep in the refrigerator for no longer than a week.
  • Uncut melons do not need to be refrigerated but can be.
  • Freezing watermelon to defrost at a later time and eat is not recommended because it may lose its taste, texture and color in the defrosting process.
Different Ways You Can Add Watermelon To You Diet:
  • Appetizers: Chutney, watermelon/avocado guacamole or pickles.
  • Beverages: Watermelon Lemonade, Watermelon Juice, Watermelon infused water or smoothie
  • Breakfast meals: with steel cut oats, pancakes, waffles, or watermelon & avocado toast.
  • Desserts: watermelon pie, ice cream sandwich, watermelon cake, mixed fruit bowl, sweet pizza or melon berry popsicles and just a delicious slice of melon.

    Watermelon, blueberry, strawberry and feta cheese salad with mint.
  • Sandwiches: Add a slice of melon to your favorite sandwich
  • Salads: Add to your favorite greens, feta chesse and citrus dressing or mix with blueberries, strawberries, feta cheese.
  • Salsas & Sauces: Use watermelon in place of tomato to make a salsas.
  • Side dishes: Grilled watermelon, watermelon scallop ceviche, or watermelon cranberry sauce.

Remember support your local watermelon growers by shopping local and purchasing a delicious Fresh Florida watermelon! As you see, watermelon can be use many different ways and is more than just a dessert or snack! Enjoy delicious fresh watermelon!

For more information on watermelons or other fresh fruits and vegetables contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Office http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/find-your-local-office/ or in Alachua County contact either: Martha B. Maddox, Family and Consumer Science Agent at mmaddox@ufl.edu


Melons: Safe Handling Practices for Consumers http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/FY/FY48800.pdf



Posted: May 1, 2020

Category: Food Safety, Fruits & Vegetables, Health & Nutrition, UF/IFAS Extension
Tags: Food, Food Safety, Fruits And Vegetables, Health And Wellness, Healthy Eating, UF/IFAS Extension, Watermelon

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