Sinking your teeth into a fresh watermelon wedge signals that summer has arrived. It's sweet, it's juicy, and it offers a ton of nutritional benefits. Watermelon is high in lycopene, amino acids, beta-carotene, and vitamin C.
How to choose them
Like most produce, watermelons start to deteriorate once they're picked, so buy local if you can. A locally grown watermelon is more likely to have spent less time traveling from the farm to the market.
The first thing to look for when choosing a watermelon is how shiny it is. A high degree of shininess indicates that the melon is under-ripe, so your best bet is to go with a dull-looking melon. You may notice people knocking on the fruit to see if it's ripe; it should be firm enough that your fist bounces off of the surface. Last, select a melon that's heavy compared to others its size. Heaviness equates to a higher water content, which means a juicier fruit.
How to use them
One of my absolute favorite summer salads is a watermelon panzanella, which combines the sweetness of the fruit, cubes of bread, and a variety of refreshing vegetables and herbs. Grilling is another savory preparation that's sure to please. Fresh watermelon can also be used to make cocktails like sangria and mojitos taste dangerously delicious. For a vibrant non-alcoholic treat, mix up a watermelon cooler.
How to store them
The best way to keep a watermelon fresh is to store it in a shady spot on your countertop until you're ready to cut it open. If you store it in the fridge, it stops producing carotene and lycopene, two beneficial antioxidants. At room temperature, a watermelon should last about a week or so.