Watermelons, a popular summer fruit with juicy flesh that refreshes even in the greatest tropics!
How to process them completely and without waste?
Sugar, yellow, pineapple and honey – what are they?
Discover all the secrets of watermelons in one article!
Is watermelon a fruit or a vegetable?
Melons belong to the gourd family, like pumpkins, cucumbers and zucchini. They contain seeds, so from a botanical point of view they are considered a fruit, specifically a berry.
Melons are divided into two main groups: watermelon ( Citrullus lanatus ) and sugar melon ( Cucumis melo ). There are several tens of thousands of cultivars of these melons in the world. Watermelon, for example, is estimated to have over 1,000 distinct varieties.
In the Czech Republic, the most popular watermelon for a long time is the variety with red flesh. Sugar melon, popularly known as yellow, is less common in stores. However, it is also gaining popularity over time.
Where do watermelons come from?
It is believed that the original place of watermelon growth is Africa, but Asia is also not ruled out. Although no trace of the original wild melon has been found in Pakistan and Iran, there are several very closely related species in these areas. In contrast, in the African part of Egypt, watermelon was found in several mummy coffins, and experts believe that it was placed in the tombs as a source of water for the journey to the afterlife.
During the Bronze Age, melons were spread to Europe, the surviving records of the wall paintings in Pompeii also discuss this.
Watermelons and health
Watermelons contain a lot of nutrients, namely: folic acid, malic acid, citric acid, gallic acid, caffeic acid, minerals such as potassium, magnesium, iron, calcium, as well as vitamin C and beta-carotene.
Vitamin content in cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon:
| Sugar melon|
| Sugar melon|
|Water||91.4 g||90.2 g||89.8 g|
|Iron||0.24 mg||0.38 mg||0.17 mg|
|Magnesium||10 mg||13 mg||10 mg|
|Potassium||112 mg||157 mg||228 mg|
|Calcium||7 mg||9 mg||6 mg|
|Beta-carotene||303 μg||2780 μg||30 μg|
|Lutein + Zeaxanthin||8 μg||32 μg||27 μg|
|Vitamin C||8.1 mg||10.9 mg||18 mg|
Watermelon is also rich in the amino acid citrulline, which improves performance during exercise and sports. In addition, it reduces muscle pain after exercise and stimulates the heart rate faster.
In addition to citrulline, watermelon also contains the antioxidant lycopene. It has been proven to protect the body from chronic health problems such as cardiovascular diseases, but it also blocks the outbreak and development of cancer. Studies have shown that men consuming foods with a high lycopene content are more resistant to cancer, specifically, they have a 25% lower risk of prostate cancer and a 44% lower risk of other types of cancer (bowel, stomach, lung…).
Individual varieties of sugar melons differ from each other in their nutrient content. The table above shows that honeydew melon contains almost twice as much vitamin C. It greatly strengthens the immune system, especially during the flu season.
In contrast, Cantaloupe contains 92 times more beta-carotene, which is converted into vitamin A in the human body. Fruits rich in beta-carotene include, for example, grapefruit, mango and apricot. Melons with yellow or orange flesh provide the most of this carotenoid.
Comparison of beta-carotene content in 100 g of candied melon, apricots, grapefruit and mango:
| beta-carotene content|
100 g / raw state
|Cantaloupe, Cantaloupe||2780 μg|
|Grapefruit, red||686 μg|
Watermelon: yellow, seedless and classic red
Varieties of watermelon usually have red watery flesh and green rind/rind. In the region of subtropical Africa, they grow up to 15 kg in weight, but smaller pieces of around 3 kg are commonly available in stores.
The heaviest watermelon weighed 159 kg and was grown in 2013 in the USA.
Watermelon with red flesh
Watermelons of the Nitsa variety are among the most popular and common, especially in Europe. They have a sweet red flesh that contains a lot of small black seeds. The green bark has light spots that resemble irregular stripes.
Traditional watermelon honey called nardek is made from watermelon. It is prepared by a long-term and multiple reduction of the juice and is then used as a filling for buns and cakes.
Red-fleshed watermelons go well with strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, currants, lime, coconut, mint, basil, ginger, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, white pepper, cottage cheese, yogurt, mozzarella, vodka, and gin.
Whole watermelons can be stored for up to two weeks at room temperature and up to a month in the cold.
These varieties are generally smaller than the seeded varieties. Their bark is similar, i.e. green with light or dark stripes. The flesh is juicy, crispy and, as the name suggests, seedless. The melons of these cultivars were not bred to contain no seeds at all, but to contain undeveloped seeds. Instead of black seeds, soft translucent shells (undeveloped seed coats) can be found in the pulp.
Salt, lime, balsamic vinegar, niva, ermine, parmesan, goat and sheep cheeses, feta cheese, mint, basil, lemon balm, coriander, thyme, beef and poultry, fish, kiwi, blueberries, blackberries and strawberries – all these ingredients in the combination with seedless melons tastes delicious.
These melons can last up to four weeks at room temperature without any damage. However, if it is bought chilled, it must still be stored in the cold, otherwise it will spoil very quickly.
Watermelons with dark to black rinds come from Japan, but you can also find them quite commonly in Czech stores. Not only do they have a different skin color, but they are also apparently sweeter. Similar to seedless varieties, black melon varieties do not normally have ripe black seeds.
Black melon tastes great in combination with spring onion, arugula, bell pepper, cucumber, pineapple, avocado, chili, pine nuts and feta cheese.
In the cold, this melon can be stored for three weeks, at room temperature for seven to ten days.
Yellow-fleshed watermelons are usually smaller than red-fleshed varieties. They are also not round in shape, but rather oblong and oval. The flesh of yellow melons tastes like honey and peaches and is full of relatively large seeds.
Yellow watermelons are not genetically modified, as you might think. They probably existed even before red melons and arose due to spontaneous natural crossing of plants. In Africa, they are referred to as the kings of the desert because they grow in hot and dry climates and are a valuable source of water.
Like candied melons, however, these also lack the healing antioxidant lycopene (a red pigment).
Yellow-fleshed watermelon goes well with basil, mint, cilantro, thyme, rosemary, shallots, peanuts, coconut, lime, lemon, blackberries, currants, feta cheese, Balkan cheese, brie, goat cheese and ginger.
Yellow watermelons spoil relatively quickly, they last only one week without damage at room temperature and two weeks in the cold.
Cantaloupe: yellow, but also the Cantaloupe and Honeydew varieties
Sugar melons are much smaller than watermelons, weighing around 1 kg on average. The general appearance of the fruits varies depending on the varieties, which are very diverse.
The peels can be white, light green or yellow, but also dark yellow to orange. The skin does not have to be smooth, as it is with watermelons. On the contrary – it can be so-called network-cracked, bumpy or shaped and lined, similar to pumpkins.
The flesh of sugar melons is white, yellow, green and light orange, but never red.
Yellow sugar melon
Sugar melon, also known as sweet, has a round to ovoid shape. It also features corner seams, making it very similar to a pumpkin. The original varieties of sugar melon are very often confused with pumpkins, because they resemble them not only on the outside, but also on the inside.
The inside of sugar melons contains a cavity that is filled with large seeds. Watermelons thus have only a small layer of smooth edible flesh that has a floral taste.
They are especially popular in India, where oil is pressed from the seeds of these melons, which is used both for cooking and in cosmetics.
Milk, papaya, basil, mint, lemongrass, mango, kiwi, cashews, pistachios, honey, chicory, cardamom, cumin, nutmeg, coconut milk and cream – in combination with these ingredients, sugar melon tastes great.
Cantaloupe, pineapple candied melon
Cantaloupes are rather small (exceptionally medium) melons that are round in shape. The bark is green, rough and reticulated, the flesh is orange. Similar to watermelon, Cantaloupe has a light green layer of flesh just below the rind.
Cantaloupe, or pineapple melons, have a honeyed, distinctly fruity taste. They first appeared in Europe during the time of Pope Paul II, who began growing them after a group of travelers from Armenia offered them to him to taste.
Goes well with goat cheese, feta and ricotta cheese, lemons, lime, oranges, grapefruit, kiwi, pineapple, honey, vanilla, cocoa beans, almonds, pistachios and hazelnuts.
Ripe Cantaloupe melons should be consumed immediately as they do not have a long shelf life. It lasts only three days without rotting, both at room temperature and in the refrigerator.
Honeydew candied melon
Honeydew, or honeydew melon, has an ovoid, sometimes even oval shape. Compared to other melons, it is relatively inconspicuous, colorless and inconspicuous.
The most common varieties of this melon have a beige, waxy (almost perfectly smooth) skin and light green, almost white flesh.
The most popular variety among consumers is the golden honeydew melon, with yellow skin and white to ivory flesh, because it is sweeter.
Honeydew is most often combined with coconut, papaya, grapes, mango, kiwi, pineapple, honey, cinnamon, vanilla, ginger, ricotta, burrata and feta cheese, spinach, beetroot, fennel, tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
Compared to other candied melons, all Honeydew varieties have an extremely long shelf life. It will last three weeks at room temperature, five weeks in the cold without rotting and perfectly fine.
Types of watermelons: quick overview, facts and interesting facts
The best-selling melons in the world include: 1. Seedless Red Flesh Watermelon, 2. Cantaloupe Pineapple Cantaloupe, and 3. Golden Honeydew Cantaloupe.
The US is one of the world’s largest consumers. The average American consumes 11 kg of watermelons each year, 7 kg of which is watermelon.
Watermelon is one of the most widely grown crops in the US, along with onions and lettuce.
In 2003, the sales volume of seedless watermelons was calculated at 51%, but over the years the demand for them has increased rapidly to 85% in 2014.
Similar to the commodities of rice, cocoa beans, tea, coffee, salt and tobacco, the Czech Republic is completely dependent on imports for melons.
While in suitable conditions 2-4 watermelons will grow on one plant, in the Czech Republic there is an average of only 1 fruit per plant.
Square watermelons are also commonly grown as a specialty. Such melons are relatively expensive, to achieve the desired shape, they are grown in square containers, which must be enlarged in proportion to the growth of the melon.
Nutritional values of watermelons
Melons are among low-calorie foods, they contain a maximum of 40 kcal per 100 g.
| Sugar melon|
| Sugar melon|
|Water||91.4 g||90.2 g||89.8 g|
|Energy value||30 calories||38 kcal||36 kcal|
|Proteins||0.61 g||0.82 g||0.54 g|
|Fats||0.15 g||0.18 g||0.14 g|
|Carbohydrates||7.55 g||8.69 g||9.09 g|
|Fiber||0.4 g||0.8 g||0.8 g|
|Sugars||6.2 g||7.88 g||8.12 g|
Melons in recipes
- Melon pulp is a traditional ingredient in alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and lemonades, especially summer ones. Don’t know any? Get inspired by the top recipes for fresh lemonades , they are very simple to prepare and even a beginner can handle them.
- Melon soup, which is most often served as an appetizer, is also becoming more and more well-known and popular. It exists in several variants: with fish, lemon or orange, cayenne pepper, balsamic vinegar, honey, and very hot with chili. Some watermelon soups are served hot, while others are served chilled.
- Smoothie – another drink that doesn’t have the right “juice” (literally) without watermelon. Try some watermelon smoothies and see for yourself how juicy watermelon makes them!
- Sugar melons are also commonly added to salads. Discover popular recipes for Italian salads and prepare a watermelon salad with prosciutto and mozzarella for grilling, you will be pleasantly surprised by the unusual, yet pleasant taste!
How to prepare dried melon Cantaloupe and Honeydew?
Dried candied melons are nothing special, but they are still available in stores at relatively high prices. Probably because they are usually served with Parma ham or salmon as a luxurious and high-end appetizer.
However, both Cantaloupe and Honeydew cantaloupe are consumed in exactly the same way as other dried fruits. So, for example, for a snack or breakfast, either alone or in yogurt or in combination with nuts.
Prepare this sweet source of energy at home, without preservatives. You will only need a fruit dehydrator, which is the most suitable for preparing dried watermelon, because it preserves all its nutrients and vitamins. If you are thinking about which one to choose to really serve you well – read a large overview of experiences with food dryers and get useful information and real knowledge.
- Cut the watermelon into quarters.
- Remove all seeds and peel the skin.
- Then cut the “clean” quarters of the watermelon into the same, very thin slices – preferably with the help of an electric slicer.
- Spread the watermelon slices evenly in the dryer so that they do not touch each other at all.
- Dry at 60°C for 18-20 hours, until completely dry.
- Store in airtight containers.
Watermelon seeds are extremely healthy! How to process them?
The seeds of all melons are incredibly nutritious. They contain vitamins A, D, E, K, niacin, thiamin and choline. Of the minerals, calcium, potassium, iron, selenium, zinc and magnesium can be used to stimulate hypertension.
In addition, they provide a huge amount of protein. 100 g of roasted watermelon seeds offers more protein than meat.
| Watermelon seeds, dried and roasted|
| Beef tenderloin, roast|
| Trout, grilled|
Roasted watermelon seeds – recipe:
- Remove the seeds from the watermelon and rinse them in a strainer to thoroughly remove the pulp.
- Let the seeds dry in a sieve for at least 24 hours. From time to time “rake” them so that they are all really dry.
- Preheat the oven to 160°C.
- Spread the seeds evenly on baking paper, brush with olive oil and season with spices. You can use salt and pepper, cinnamon and brown sugar, or lime juice, orange peel and chili or ginger.
- Place in the oven and bake for about 25 minutes, stirring several times during baking.
- After cooling, store the crunchy seeds in resealable containers. Eat as a healthy TV snack or add to vegetable salads.
How to use watermelon rinds?
The skins, which are usually thrown away, are even much healthier than the pulp itself. Although the rest of the green pulp is almost tasteless, it is loaded with vitamins A, C and zinc. It goes well with salads, not only fruit and vegetable, but also tuna and salmon.
Recipe for watermelon rind juice
You can also make a refreshing, tasty juice from the peels and serve it as a non-alcoholic or alcoholic version. The rinds of one medium-sized watermelon will yield about two liters of this juice.
If you only want pure juice without any pulp, use a juicer for preparation; you can find the best ones in our big review of electric juicers . However, if you want to consume the watermelon really whole and without waste, use a blender to prepare the juice. He also mixes the skins until smooth, but also including the pulp and peel.
- rind from one watermelon
- 5-7 tablespoons of honey (or chicory syrup, cane sugar)
- juice of one lime
- Blend or juice the peels.
- Leave in the machine and add honey (amount to taste).
- Then add the lime juice and mix again.
- Serve the juice chilled, preferably with ice and fresh mint.
Growing watermelons and how to know when they are ripe?
Watermelons are successfully grown not only in the subtropical zone, but also in Europe. Countries with a large production of watermelons include, for example, Italy, Greece and Spain. In the Czech Republic, melon plants will never have such a large harvest, but they can be grown relatively successfully in the warm wine regions of Moravia.
It is normally harvested towards the end of August. A watermelon that is really ripe and ready to harvest has a yellow spot on the rind where it rested on the ground. It is slightly cracked around the stem and the melon sounds hollow when tapped with your fingers. If it is pressed in the palms, it screams.