Watermelon is as integral a part of the summer experience as building sandcastles at the beach or catching fireflies on a warm evening. Easily filling the role of dessert, it is as tasty as it is fun to eat. Even as adults, we love the flavor of this melon, whether it is paired with a cheese in a salad or used as the foundation for an adult beverage. Though August is now in the rear view mirror and the apple picking season is just around the corner, Colchester Neighborhood Farm continues to harvest this sweet summer vegetable…yes, I said vegetable, because technically, it is considered both a fruit and veggie. And here are few more fun facts to consider about this sweet summer staple.
According to the website, betweenusparents.com, Americans consume more watermelon than any other melon. Cantaloupe comes in second place and honeydew in third place.
A cousin to the cucumber, pumpkin, and squash family, watermelon is considered both fruit and vegetable. However, according to the website, livability.com, in 2007, the state of Oklahoma removed any ambivalence about how to categorize the gourd when it passed a bill declaring it a vegetable, and the official state vegetable, at that.
According to the website, thetowndish, early explorers used watermelons as canteens.
In China and Japan, watermelon is given as a hostess gift similar to our tradition of bringing flowers.
In Israel and Egypt, the sweet taste of watermelon is often paired with the salty taste of feta cheese.
Egyptian hieroglyphics indicate that the first-ever watermelon harvest took place roughly 5,000 years ago. The sweet fruit (vegetable) often was sealed into the tombs of kings because, really, who couldn’t use a snack in the afterlife.
An estimated 40,000 visitors check out the soaring 154-foot watermelon-shaped water tower each year in Lulling, Texas, home of the annual Watermelon Thump event, named for the sworn-by method of “rind-thumping” for checking a melon’s ripeness.
The seedless variety of watermelons was invented 50 years ago.
According to Guinness World Records, the world’s heaviest watermelon, weighing 268.8 lbs. (121.93 kg) was grown by Lloyd Bright of Arkadelphia, Arkansas in 2005.
It takes approximately 90 days to grow a watermelon….from planting to harvesting.
The United States ranks 5th in worldwide production of watermelon. Florida, Texas, California, Georgia and Arizona consistently are the leading producers.
Every part of the watermelon is edible, including the seeds and the rind. In fact, the first cookbook published in the U.S. in 1776 contained a recipe for watermelon rind pickles.
Though the summer season and its harvest is winding down, the workers at Colchester Neighborhood Farm are still picking plenty of organically grown vegetables and fruits, including watermelon, which lets the taste of summer linger just a little longer.