Watermelon recipes for summer

WASHINGTON — Whether you consider watermelon more fruit or vegetable (yes, it has been considered both), this versatile crop weighs in as the most consumed melon in the United States.

Click through the gallery below to see how melon lovers slice, dice and spice up watermelon to incorporate into their daily dishes.

This June 30, 2014 photo shows spicy watermelon salad with feta and basil in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)
Spicy watermelon salad with feta and basil Cubed watermelon has a cooling effect on a hot summer’s day — and in this savory salad with banana peppers, feta, chili peppers and basil. Find the recipe here. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead) (AP/Matthew Mead)
This July 28, 2014, photo shows watermelon gazpacho in Concord, N.H. The recipe was inspired by one in Yotam Ottolenghi's upcoming cookbook "Plenty More." (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)
Watermelon gazpacho This vibrant gazpacho is both sweet and tangy, easy to whip up in minutes for a quick appetizer or a light snack. Find the recipe here.  (AP Photo/Matthew Mead) (AP/Matthew Mead)
This Aug. 22, 2011 photo shows grilled watermelon salad in Concord, N.H. When ready to serve, place grilled watermelon pieces on a large platter or divide among individual plates.  (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)
Grilled watermelon salad Grilling watermelon for a few minutes on each side brings out the smoky, savory flavors of the fruit. Sprinkle with cilantro and lime juice, and enjoy! Find the recipe here. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead) (ASSOCIATED PRESS/Matthew Mead)
This July 18, 2011 photo shows a watermelon pudding tart in Concord, N.H. Serve this tart with plenty of whipped cream.     (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)
Watermelon pudding tart In Italy, where melons are a summertime staple, watermelons are often incorporated into desserts such as Gelo di Melone, or Watermelon pudding. Spoon the pudding mixture into a graham cracker crust for this fruity pudding tart. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead) (ASSOCIATED PRESS/Matthew Mead)
This April 27, 2015 photo shows watermelon infused lemonade in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)
Watermelon infused lemonade Whether you enjoy your lemonade bubbly, boozy or extra sweet, let watermelon act as the base for a refreshing summer drink. Find the recipe here. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead) (AP/Matthew Mead)
In this image taken on May 30, 2012, Elizabeth Karmel's grilled butterflied duck with spicy watermelon glaze is shown on a plate in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)
Grilled butterflied duck with spicy watermelon glaze This sweet and spicy glaze can add a pop of flavor and attractive sheen to any protein. See how it pairs with duck in this Associated Press recipe. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead) (AP/Matthew Mead)
This July 18, 2011 photo shows marinated watermelon and strawberries in Concord, N.H.  Orange and elderflower liqueur blended with vanilla creates a delicious syrup for marinating strawberries and watermelon.   (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)
Marinated watermelon and strawberries The watermelon cubes and strawberries will absorb the liqueur, leaving you with plump, juicy fruit to serve as part of a grown up fruit cup, to use as an ice cream topping or to stir into a cocktail. Find the recipe here. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead) (ASSOCIATED PRESS/Matthew Mead)
This July 18, 2011 photo shows sweet watermelon rind relish with crackers and cream cheese  in Concord, N.H.   This recipe calls for watermelon rind with the thin outer dark green skin removed.   (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)
Sweet watermelon rind relish with crackers and cream cheese Pickled watermelon rinds jazz up everyday snacks like cream cheese and crackers. Find the recipe here. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead) (ASSOCIATED PRESS/Matthew Mead)
In this image taken on June 10, 2013, grilled pork tenderloin with watermelon-arugula salad is shown served on a platter in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)
Grilled pork tenderloin with watermelon-arugula salad The bold flavors of feta enhance, not mask, the juicy flavors of watermelon in this arugula-based salad. Find the recipe here. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead) (AP/Matthew Mead)
This April 14, 2014 photo shows grilled jerk chicken breast with watermelon salsa in Concord, N.H. “Jerk” refers both to a unique blend of seasonings and to a method of slow cooking. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)
Grilled jerk chicken breast with watermelon salsa The watermelon salsa balances the heat of the seasoning on the jerk chicken. Find the recipe here. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead) (AP/Matthew Mead)
In this image taken on July 24, 2012, Arthur Potts Dawson's cucumber, watermelon and mango salad with spicy red and green chilies is shown served in a bowl in Concord, N. H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)
Cucumber, watermelon and mango salad Different textures and flavors mix and mingle in this cool, refreshing, spicy salad. Find the recipe here. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead) (AP/Matthew Mead)
In this image taken on June 3, 2013, from left, a watermelon Bellini, white chiller, dark island cooler, rose tinted glasses wine coolers with a watermelon Bellini behind them are shown in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)
Watermelon Bellini Dive into a fresh frozen drink that will take the edge off the heat. Find the recipe here. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead) (AP/Matthew Mead)
In case you need more reasons to serve up this sweet and juicy summertime favorite at your next BBQ, here are 10 surprising facts about watermelon. (Getty Images)
Watermelon by the slice Pickled, cubed, grilled or diced, there is perhaps no better ways to enjoy seasonal watermelons than fresh, by the slice. (Thinkstock) (Getty Images/iStockphoto/pilipphoto)
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This June 30, 2014 photo shows spicy watermelon salad with feta and basil in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)
This July 28, 2014, photo shows watermelon gazpacho in Concord, N.H. The recipe was inspired by one in Yotam Ottolenghi's upcoming cookbook "Plenty More." (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)
This Aug. 22, 2011 photo shows grilled watermelon salad in Concord, N.H. When ready to serve, place grilled watermelon pieces on a large platter or divide among individual plates.  (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)
This July 18, 2011 photo shows a watermelon pudding tart in Concord, N.H. Serve this tart with plenty of whipped cream.     (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)
This April 27, 2015 photo shows watermelon infused lemonade in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)
In this image taken on May 30, 2012, Elizabeth Karmel's grilled butterflied duck with spicy watermelon glaze is shown on a plate in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)
This July 18, 2011 photo shows marinated watermelon and strawberries in Concord, N.H.  Orange and elderflower liqueur blended with vanilla creates a delicious syrup for marinating strawberries and watermelon.   (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)
This July 18, 2011 photo shows sweet watermelon rind relish with crackers and cream cheese  in Concord, N.H.   This recipe calls for watermelon rind with the thin outer dark green skin removed.   (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)
In this image taken on June 10, 2013, grilled pork tenderloin with watermelon-arugula salad is shown served on a platter in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)
This April 14, 2014 photo shows grilled jerk chicken breast with watermelon salsa in Concord, N.H. “Jerk” refers both to a unique blend of seasonings and to a method of slow cooking. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)
In this image taken on July 24, 2012, Arthur Potts Dawson's cucumber, watermelon and mango salad with spicy red and green chilies is shown served in a bowl in Concord, N. H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)
In this image taken on June 3, 2013, from left, a watermelon Bellini, white chiller, dark island cooler, rose tinted glasses wine coolers with a watermelon Bellini behind them are shown in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)
In case you need more reasons to serve up this sweet and juicy summertime favorite at your next BBQ, here are 10 surprising facts about watermelon. (Getty Images)

About watermelons

Watermelon is about 92 percent water and only about 43 calories per cup of the diced fruit. The first documented watermelon harvest occurred about 5,000 years ago in Egypt, according to the National Watermelon Promotion Board, and they were used as canteens by early explorers. Watermelons are a cousin to cucumbers, pumpkins and squash. But it is botanically classified as a fruit. However, watermelon is also a member of a gourd family, and in places such as China, Russia and the southern United States, watermelon rind is used as a vegetable.

Picking the best watermelon

Look for a relatively symmetrical watermelon that’s free from bruises, cuts or dents. Pick one that’s firm and heavy for its size. Search for a creamy yellow spot on the body of the melon from where it sat on the ground, recommends the National Watermelon Promotion Board. A white or pale green spot may indicate the fruit is not yet ripe.

Watermelon storage

Once a watermelon is cut from the vine, it can last for up to three or four weeks. A whole watermelon does not have to be refrigerated. But if the melon was cold when you bought it, you should keep it cold, the National Watermelon Promotion Board said. Store in a cool, dark place to prevent further ripening.

You can store cut or sliced watermelon in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three or four days. Do not let the fruit sit out at room temperature for more than a few hours. To store the remainder of a whole watermelon in the refrigerator, cover the cut portion with plastic wrap or foil to slow down the oxidation processes, according to LEAF.tv.

Watermelon can also be frozen for future use, although their texture and color won’t be quite the same. Add them to beverages or smoothies for flavor.

Health benefits

Chock full of vitamins A, B6 and C, watermelons can boost immunity, improve eye health and help maintain normal nerve function. Watermelon is rich in lycopene, which helps provide protection against heart disease. The fruit’s high water and fiber content also help prevent constipation and promote a healthy digestive tract, according to Medical News Today. The high water and electrolyte content make watermelon the perfect fruit for summer.

 


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