With summer now here, there is nothing better than to slice up fresh watermelon to enjoy on a hot day. There is nothing more refreshing! But no matter how well you think you know watermelon, there is a lot you will be surprised to learn about this summer staple.
1. It has a national holiday
On August 3rd, it is National Watermelon Day. Not that you can’t enjoy it for all of the summer leading up to that point. Or after it. But it is nice to know watermelon gets its own holiday.
2. It is a fruit and a vegetable
With its sweet and juicy taste, you have probably assumed all your life that watermelon is a fruit. You are not wrong for that assumption, especially since they do grow like other fruits and contain seeds. However, it can also be classified as a gourd, which is a vegetable.
3. You can eat the whole thing
We always go for the sweet and juicy flesh on the inside, but you can actually eat the rind of the watermelon too. It is full of healthy benefits. You can stew them or stir-fry them, which is what you will see a lot of in China.
You can also eat the seeds. Just like pumpkin seeds, in China, watermelon seeds are dried out and then roasted. They are an amazing snack. You can make them yourself or look for them in a Chinese supermarket.
4. Seedless ones grow naturally
The watermelons without seeds grow naturally thanks to hybridization. There is no genetic modification here. You will still find the white seeds in them but you can eat them.
5. There are lots of varieties
Agricultural experts say there are over 1,200 different types of watermelons but to make it easier to classify them, they stick with four categories. You’ll find the seeded variety, icebox, yellow/orange, and seedless. Seedless accounts for about 85% of all watermelons in the US.
6. Watermelon can protect you from cancer
Just like tomatoes, watermelons provide an antioxidant called lycopene. It has been proven to reduce cancer risk for lung, stomach, and prostate cancer. Yet, another reason to dig in.
7. They grow square ones in Japan
They have originally cultivated this way to fit them into a refrigerator with ease. Square glass boxes are placed around a growing watermelon to give it this shape. While compact and easy to fit into the refrigerator, this variety is not very sweet and is more for novelty purposes. Plus, it costs close to $100 each.
8. As always, the Egyptians were first with watermelons
In Egypt, watermelons have been growing for over 5,000 years. They can be found in hieroglyphics on the tomb walls. They were also left with the dead because they believed the watermelon would nourish them on their journey to the other side.