Sunday, August 14, 2011

introduction to watermelon


Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.), family Cucurbitaceae) is a vine-like (scrambler and trailer) flowering plant originally from southern Africa. Its fruit, which is also called watermelon, is a special kind referred to by botanists as a pepo, a berry which has a thick rind (exocarp) and fleshy center (mesocarp and endocarp).

Pepos are derived from an inferior ovary, and are characteristic of the Cucurbitaceae. The watermelon fruit, loosely considered a type of melon – although not in the genus Cucumis – has a smooth exterior rind (green, yellow and sometimes white) and a juicy, sweet interior flesh (usually pink, but sometimes orange, yellow, red and sometimes green if not ripe). It is also commonly used to make a variety of salads, most notably fruit salad.

HISTORY

Watermelon is thought to have originated in southern Africa, where it is found growing wild, because it reaches maximum genetic diversity there, resulting in sweet, bland and bitter forms. Alphonse de Candolle, in 1882, already considered the evidence sufficient to prove that watermelon was indigenous to tropical Africa. Though Citrullus colocynthis is often considered to be a wild ancestor of watermelon and is now found native in north and west Africa, Fenny Dane and Jiarong Liu suggest on the basis of chloroplast DNA investigations that the cultivated and wild watermelon appear to have diverged independently from a common ancestor, possibly C. ecirrhosus from Namibia.


It is not known when the plant was first cultivated, but Zohary and Hopf note evidence of its cultivation in the Nile Valley from at least as early as the second millennium BC. Although watermelon is not depicted in any Egyptian hieroglyphic text nor does any ancient writer mention it, finds of the characteristically large seed are reported in Twelfth dynasty sites; numerous watermelon seeds were recovered from the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun.

By the 10th century AD, watermelons were being cultivated in China, which is today the world's single largest watermelon producer. By the 13th century, Moorish invaders had introduced the fruit to Europe; according to John Mariani's The Dictionary of American Food and Drink, "watermelon" made its first appearance in an English dictionary in 1615.

Charles Fredric Andrus, a horticulturist at the USDA Vegetable Breeding Laboratory in Charleston, South Carolina, set out to produce a disease-resistant and wilt-resistant watermelon. The result, in 1954, was "that gray melon from Charleston." Its oblong shape and hard rind made it easy to stack and ship. Its adaptability meant it could be grown over a wide geographical area. It produced high yields and was resistant to the most serious watermelon diseases: anthracnose and fusarium wilt.

Today, farmers in approximately 44 states in the U.S. grow watermelon commercially, and almost all these varieties have some Charleston Gray in their lineage. Georgia, Florida, Texas, California and Arizona are the USA's largest watermelon producers.

In Japan, farmers of the Zentsuji region found a way to grow cubic watermelons, by growing the fruits in glass boxes and letting them naturally assume the shape of the receptacle. The square shape was originally designed to make the melons easier to stack and store, but the square watermelons are often more than double the price of normal ones, and much of their appeal to consumers is in their novelty. Pyramid shaped watermelons have also been developed and any polyhedral shape may potentially also be used.

Nutrition

Watermelon, raw (edible parts)Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 127 kJ (30 kcal)
Carbohydrates 7.55 g
- Sugars 6.2 g
- Dietary fiber 0.4 g
Fat 0.15 g
Protein 0.61 g
Water 91.45 g
Vitamin A equiv. 28 μg (3%)
Thiamine (Vit. B1) 0.033 mg (3%)
Riboflavin (Vit. B2) 0.021 mg (1%)
Niacin (Vit. B3) 0.178 mg (1%)
Pantothenic acid (B5) 0.221 mg (4%)
Vitamin B6 0.045 mg (3%)
Folate (Vit. B9) 3 μg (1%)
Vitamin C 8.1 mg (14%)
Calcium 7 mg (1%)
Iron 0.24 mg (2%)
Magnesium 10 mg (3%)
Phosphorus 11 mg (2%)
Potassium 112 mg (2%)
Zinc 0.10 mg (1%)
Percentages are relative to US recommendations for adults.



A watermelon contains about 6% sugar and 92% water by weight. As with many other fruits, it is a source of vitamin C.

The amino acid citrulline was first extracted from watermelon and analyzed. Watermelons contain a significant amount of citrulline and after consumption of several kg, an elevated concentration is measured in the blood plasma; this could be mistaken for citrullinaemia or other urea cycle disorders.

Watermelon rinds, usually a light green or white color, are also edible and contains many hidden nutrients that most people avoid eating due to its unappealing flavor. They are sometimes used as a vegetable. In China, they are stir-fried, stewed or more often pickled. When stir-fried, the de-skinned and de-fruited rind is cooked with olive oil, garlic, chili peppers, scallions, sugar and rum. Pickled watermelon rind is also commonly consumed in the Southern US. Watermelon juice can also be made into wine.

Watermelon is also mildly diuretic and contains large amounts of beta carotene. Watermelon with red flesh is a significant source of lycopene.

Varieties

There are more than 1200 varieties of watermelon ranging in size from less than a pound, to more than two hundred pounds, with flesh that is red, orange, yellow or white. Several notable varieties are included here.
Carolina Cross: This variety of watermelon produced the current world record watermelon weighing 262 pounds (119 kg). It has green skin, red flesh and commonly produces fruit between 65 and 150 pounds (29 and 68 kg). It takes about 90 days from planting to harvest.
                                                   seedless watermelon
Yellow Crimson Watermelon: variety of watermelon that has a yellow colored flesh. This particular type of watermelon has been described as "sweeter" and more "honey" flavored than the more popular red flesh watermelon.

Orangeglo: This variety has a very sweet orange pulp, and is a large oblong fruit weighing 9–14 kg (20–30 pounds). It has a light green rind with jagged dark green stripes. It takes about 90–100 days from planting to harvest.

The Moon and Stars variety of watermelon has been around since 1926. The rind is purple/black and has many small yellow circles (stars) and one or two large yellow circles (moon). The melon weighs 9–23 kg (20–50 pounds). The flesh is pink or red and has brown seeds. The foliage is also spotted. The time from planting to harvest is about 90 days.

Cream of Saskatchewan: This variety consists of small round fruits, around 25 cm (10 inches) in diameter. It has a quite thin, light green with dark green striped rind, with sweet white flesh and black seeds. It can grow well in cool climates. It was originally brought to Saskatchewan, Canada by Russian immigrants. These melons take 80–85 days from planting to harvest.

Melitopolski: This variety has small round fruits roughly 28–30 cm (11–12 inches) in diameter. It is an early ripening variety that originated from the Volga River region of Russia, an area known for cultivation of watermelons. The Melitopolski watermelons are seen piled high by vendors in Moscow in summer. This variety takes around 95 days from planting to harvest.

Densuke Watermelon: This variety has round fruit up to 25 lb (11 kg). The rind is black with no stripes or spots. It is only grown on the island of Hokkaido, Japan, where up to 10 000 watermelons are produced every year. In June 2008, one of the first harvested watermelons was sold at an auction for 650 000 yen (6300 USD), making the most expensive watermelon ever sold.

In Vietnamese culture, watermelon seeds are consumed during the Vietnamese New Year's holiday, Tết,
as a snack.

Stereotypical caricatures may depict African Americans as being inordinately fond of watermelon.
The Oklahoma State Senate passed a bill on 17 April 2007 declaring watermelon as the official state vegetable, with some controversy surrounding whether a watermelon is a fruit.

The citrulline which exists in watermelon (especially in the rind) is a known stimulator of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is thought to relax and expand blood vessels, much like the erectile dysfunction drug Viagra, and may even increase libido.

The town of Chinchilla in Queensland, Australia holds a biannual festival celebrating all things melon.
The Ten-lined June beetle is often affectionately referred to as a Watermelon Beetle, due to the green,
striped pattern on its back.


uses
Watermelon Juice
 

Watermelon is a universal fruit and many people just love to have this fruit. Watermelon contains lot of Vitamins, Potassium, low in Sodium and has little or no fat content in it. It has lot of water content (91%) and good to be consumed especially in the summer season. I prepared Watermelon Juice by adding Pepper and

Salt to the Watermelon pieces, so that it gives more taste to the Juice.


Watermelon Juice Ingredients:


Watermelon pieces deseeded – 2 cups
Powdered Sugar – 2 Tbsp (Optional)
Pepper Powder – 1/4 tsp
Salt – Pinch
Ice Cubes – 3-4


Time to Prepare : 15 min

How to Make Watermelon Juice:


In a mixer Jar, add peeled and deseeded Watermelon pieces, Powdered Sugar, Pepper Powder and Salt.
Grind all the above ingredients until you see a nicely blended liquid.
Transfer to a glass and top with Ice cubes. Serve Watermelon Juice chilled.

Note:

You know that Powdered Sugar should be added only if Watermelon is not sweet enough for you.
If needed, you can filter the Watermelon Juice, but Watermelon Juice gives good taste without filtering.

More information about Watermelon:


Some of us have not heard about a square shaped or a pyramid shaped Watermelon. Japanese grow square shaped Watermelons to save on packing and storage space. Also, don’t miss out on the pyramid and these cute looking human faced Watermelons! You can see heart and star shaped Cucumbers as well in that page.

In Japan, price of square shaped Watermelons is almost double that of regular shaped ones. Other cute shapes are difficult to cultivate and are priced many hundred dollars!

Watermelon festivals are held annually all across United States during summer. As Watermelon Promotion Board puts it – “At these festivals, you’ll find fun, fresh tastes and lots of watermelon smiles”. If you live in US, you can check the schedule for Watermelon Festival for the current year to know about the Watermelon Festival happening nearest to your location.

Seeds :

Watermelon seeds are eaten in many parts of the world. In Nigeria, the seeds of certain types of watermelon are made into soup. They are eaten in China, as well, although the outer skin is removed by rubbing or scorching it off. In our book, either method requires more effort than simply spitting the seeds out.

However, for the merely lazy, eating watermelon seeds is a mixed blessing on the nutritional front. An ounce of dried watermelon seed kernels contains about 3 grams of zinc (or 25 percent of the Recommended Dietary Allowance for a woman under 50), and 2 grams of iron (or 14 percent of the RDA). On the minus side, it also contains 158 calories and more than 13 grams of fat.

Roasted watermelon seeds

How to Make Roasted Watermelon Seeds

Roasted watermelon seeds are the perfect snack food! Try roasted watermelon seeds in place of sunflower seeds or peanuts for your next snack.

Ingredients:

1 cup raw watermelon seeds
1 tablespoon salt
water

Preparation:

Gather seeds from watermelon and place in colander. Be sure to use only the black seeds. Do not use the small, white seeds. Rinse thoroughly in colander to remove any excess watermelon. Once clean, spread out in an even layer on a cookie sheet and allow to dry. Drying outdoors in direct sunlight is a good method. Seeds can be patted dry, but roast much better when they are completely dry.

In a frying pan on the stovetop, place watermelon seeds on medium high heat and turn until seeds are roasted. In a cup of water, add salt and stir until dissolved. Pour salt water into frying pan and stir occasionally until water has evaporated. Once done, allow seeds to cool completely before shelling and eating.

Watermelon seeds can also be toasted in the oven at 325 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Wash and dry as above. Spray seeds with cooking spray and sprinkle evenly with salt. Allow to cool completely before eating.


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