When the weather begins to get hot, the mouth starts to crave watermelon. I love watermelon. While I will eat it in the dead of winter, there is nothing like watermelon in the summer.Â Especially if youâ€™re with friends and family.
The watermelon is part of the cucurbitaceae family. This family is also commonly known as the gourd family and includes plants like cucumbers, squashes (pumpkins included), luffas, and melons. We all know that the edible part is the reddish-pink inside and that the bright green rind doesnâ€˜t taste all that great.
Watermelon is an ideal health food.Â It is 92% water which helps rehydrate the body, contains zero fat or cholesterol, low in calories, and is a great source of vitamins.Â Its health benefits are largely attributed to its nutrients.Â Watermelon contains antioxidants, such as Vitamin A and C, that help in preventing cell damage and also in neutralizing and removing free radicals.Â It also helps maintain blood pressure.
Watermelon is beneficial in preventing muscular degeneration.Â This is one of the main causes for vision loss in elderly people.Â The B6 that watermelon contains can alleviate some of the symptoms of anxiety.Â Maybe thatâ€™s why you always feel better after eating a piece of watermelon.
Watermelon is perfect in its natural state, but here are a few recipes that show some different sides of this American pastime. Be brave and try them or use your imagination and create your own.
Yield: 5 cups
2 pounds watermelon
3 cups white sugar
3 lemons – rinsed, sliced and seeded
1. Remove the green rind of the melon, and dice the white part into small cubes, leaving the red flesh mostly intact. Remove seeds.
2. In a heavy stockpot, combine 4 cups of the prepared watermelon, sugar and lemons. Bring to a boil over medium heat, and let the mixture boil slowly for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. The temperature of the mixture should be at 220 degrees F (105 degrees C) so the jam will set.
3. Sterilize the jars and lids in boiling water for at least 5 minutes. Pack the jam into the hot, sterilized jars, filling the jars to within 1/4 inch of the top. Run a knife or a thin spatula around the insides of the jars after they have been filled to remove any air bubbles. Wipe the rims of the jars with a moist paper towel to remove any food residue. Top with lids, and screw on rings.
4. Place a rack in the bottom of a large stockpot and fill halfway with water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then carefully lower the jars into the pot using a holder. Leave a 2 inch space between the jars. Pour in more boiling water if necessary until the water level is at least 1 inch above the tops of the jars. Bring the water to a full boil, cover the pot, and process for 10 minutes.
You may also include 1 cup of grated pineapple, and cook for 15 minutes longer if desired.
Watermelon Fire and Ice Salsa
Yield: 4 cups
3 cups chopped watermelon
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon chopped green onions
1 tablespoon chopped jalapeno pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1. In a large bowl, combine the watermelon, green bell pepper, lime juice, cilantro, green onions, jalapeno and garlic salt. Mix well and serve.
Watermelon Mint Ice Cream
Yield: 2 quarts
8 cups watermelon chunks
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup white sugar
2 cups lightly packed fresh mint leaves
4 egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream
1. Puree the watermelon chunks in a blender or food processor until smooth; strain the juices from any remaining solids and set aside, discarding the solids.
2. Heat 1 cup of heavy cream with the sugar in a saucepan over medium-low heat until warmed. Stir the mint leaves to the warmed cream. Cover the saucepan and remove from heat. Allow the mixture to steep at room temperature for 1 hour. Strain into a bowl; discard the mint leaves.
3. Whisk the egg yolks in a bowl until gently beaten. Slowly pour the mint-infused cream into the egg yolks, whisking constantly to prevent cooking the egg; scrape the mixture back into the saucepan and place over medium heat. Stir constantly, scraping the bottom while cooking, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula; pour the mixture through a strainer into a bowl along with 1 cup heavy cream. Mix the watermelon juice into the cream mixture.
4. Pour into an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions.