Watermelon is probably the most popular melon in the world today. There are over 50 known varieties of watermelon, but the four best known types of watermelon are allsweet, ice-box, seedless and yellow-fleshed. As its name would suggest, a Watermelon's flesh is composed of 92% water and 8% sugar. This gives this melon a very refreshing taste which is accented by a sweet flavor. Recently research has shed new light on its potential health benefits. Watermelon contains high concentrations of lycopene, an antioxidant that may help reduce the risks of cancer and other diseases.
When buying watermelon, look for obvious cracks, scars, mold and bruising on the melon's skin/rind. Watermelons will have a health green sheen on it's top and a dull yellow underside, where it touched the ground while growing. Watermelon skin/rind should be solid, and not be malleable in anyway. Sensitive and weak spots on the melon indicate bruising or rotting and should be avoided.
At easy way to determine if a watermelon is ripe is to knock on it. Healthy watermelon will sound hollow when it is knocked. Underripe watermelon will then to sound more solid, whereas overripe melon will give very little sound. Try to avoid melons that are pale green or white in color as well, as they indicate underripeness.
Watermelon, should be stored in a cool, dry place to prevent the onset of mold or spoiling. However, watermelon will keep for up to 2 weeks uncut at room temperature. Due to it's large size, seldom is refrigerating an entire melon an option, thus a cellar is usually recommended until the melon is cut. Watermelon is very difficult to ripen after it has been cut from the vine, so avoid buying underripe melon.
Once it has been cut, fridgeration is essential to prevent spoiling. Wrapping a halved melon in plastic wrap is suggested, or enclosing cut pieces into plastic containers or bags. It is possible, but not recommended to freeze watermelon, as it's already moist flesh tends to poorly survive thawing. Freezing should only be considered if the fruit is to be blended at a later date.
Watermelon, as with many melons, is seldom cooked and is often served raw. The sweet and moist nature of the melon doesn't offer many culinary avenues. When it is cooked, it is most often blended into soups or sauces. Watermelon is also noted for being blended into juices, salsas, sorbets and ice creams.
Production of Watermelon
For commercial plantings, one beehive per acre (over 9,000 m² per hive) is the minimum recommendation by the US Department of Agriculture for pollination of conventional, seeded varieties. Because seedless hybrids have sterile pollen, pollinizer rows of varieties with viable pollen must also be planted. Since the supply of viable pollen is reduced and pollination is much more critical in producing the seedless variety, the recommended number of hives per acre, or pollinator density, increases to three hives per acre (1,300 m² per hive).
In Japan, farmers of the Zentsuji region found a way to grow cubic watermelons, by growing the fruits in glass boxes and letting them naturally assume the shape of the receptacle. The square shape is designed to make the melons easier to stack and store, but the square watermelons are often more than double the price of normal ones. Pyramid shaped watermelons have also been developed.