Selecting Watermelon

The juicy sweetness of melons gives you the satisfaction of dessert without the hit to your waistline. Melons may come in different shapes, sizes, and colors, but they all have two things in common: a soft, sweet, juicy pulp and superb taste.

That's why it's hard to say no to melons. They offer a decent dose of
, which helps fill you up. The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that most people eat 1.5 to 2 cups of fruit per day. Watermelons are a great-tasting way to fulfill that recommendation.

Watermelons are best served very cold.

Selecting Watermelons

The three most popular melons in the United States are cantaloupe, watermelon, and honeydew. In general, look for watermelons that are evenly shaped with no bruises, cracks, or soft spots. Select watermelons that are heavy for their size; they tend to be juicier.

Choosing a watermelon can be tricky. Watermelons don't ripen much after they are picked, so what you see is what you get. The single most reliable sign of ripeness is a firm underside with a yellowish color; if it is white or green, the melon is not yet mature.

A whole watermelon keeps in the refrigerator up to a week, but cut watermelon should be eaten as soon as possible. The flesh deteriorates rapidly, taking on an unappetizing slimy texture.

Some people like melons only slightly chilled or even room temperature, but watermelons taste best when they're served icy cold. A multicolored melon-ball salad topped with fresh, chopped mint makes a pretty dessert.

In the next section, you'll learn about the many health benefits of watermelons.

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