Little can compare to the delight a farmers market trip can bring to the senses. The aromatic smells, bright colors and feel of ripe textures of produce challenge a shopper on how best to enjoy them. Have as a side dish or main dish? Grill, bake, or just serve fresh? Bring to a family get together or just enjoy as a snack? The choices are endless, just as we hope the summer harvest will be!
With over 12,000 varieties of watermelon, the options are plentiful in ways to serve: in salads, salsa or grilled; juiced flesh added to smoothies; stir fried rind added to a vegetable dish, not to forget using the watermelon shell as a centerpiece to hold a fruit medley. Pick a melon that is firm (not spongy) and free of major cuts, bruises, and dents. Store whole watermelons at room temperature. Once the melon is cut, store in the refrigerator in an air tight container for up to five days. Pieces of watermelon can be frozen and added to summer drinks, however, it is not meant to be frozen then defrosted. Canning or drying watermelon is not recommended.
Remember to clean your melon first before preparing. Here are some tips:
1. Wash hands
2. Make sure the sink, counter, cutting board and knives have been washed with hot water and soap
3. Place melon in sink. Scrub melon with warm water and a clean scrub brush that is reserved for produce to remove dirt
4. Finish rinsing melon with warm water, then dry
5. As with cutting anything round, it may be best to cut a flat side on the melon first. Lay the flat side face down on the cutting board then slice into wedges.
Watermelon is a nutritious food. One cup cubed watermelon contains 46 calories, 12 grams of carbohydrate, 1 gram of fiber, and 170 mg of potassium, while adding no saturated fat (or any fat) and only 2 mg sodium. It is 92 percent water and contains Vitamin C, Vitamin A and lycopene, a powerful antioxidant. So no matter if you add frozen melon balls to flavor your water or just enjoy a wedge on a hot summer’s day, watermelon is a tasty, smart choice available at your farmer’s market.
Kickin’ Watermelon Salsa
3 cups chopped and seeded watermelon
½ cup chopped green pepper
½ teaspoon lime zest
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon green onion
2 tablespoons jalapeno pepper
1 teaspoon chia seeds
Combine ingredients. Mix well. Cover. Refrigerate one hour or more.
Serving size: 2 tablespoons
Servings per recipe: 28
6 calories / serving+ whatever you use to dip!
Variations to recipe include adding 1 cup of fresh diced peaches or mango.