Watermelon is a vine-like 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 (usually green with dark green stripes or yellow spots) and a juicy, sweet interior flesh (usually deep red to pink, but sometimes orange, yellow, or white).
The fruit was likely first cultivated for its ability to hold plentiful water in a desert landscape, especially since the wild melon was bitter or tasteless. Seeds and art found in tombs of Pharaohs are substantial evidence of the watermelon’s value. Cultivation and breeding brought out the better qualities of sweet and tender fruit we enjoy today.
Watermelons can grow enormous, and you will find competitions across the country which award prizes each year for the largest one. The Guinness Book of World Records states that the heaviest watermelon weighed 262 pounds. To learn more refreshing watermelon facts, check out www.watermelon.org.
Five Food Finds about Watermelons:
• By weight, watermelon is the most-consumed melon in the U.S., followed by cantaloupe and honeydew.
• Watermelon is 92% water.
• The first recorded watermelon harvest occurred nearly 5,000 years ago in Egypt.
• Watermelon’s official name is Citrullus Lanatus of the botanical family Curcurbitaceae. It is cousins to cucumbers, pumpkins and squash.
• Early explorers used watermelons as canteens.
HOW TO OBSERVE
Enjoy a slice of Watermelon today and celebrate with the rest of the country! Post on social media using #NationalWatermelonDay.
Our research was unable to find the creator and origin of National Watermelon Day.
Layered Watermelon Ice Pops
Prep Yield Level
25 m 6 frozen pops Intermediate
• 3 cups seedless watermelon, cubed and chilled
• 1/2 cup superfine sugar
• 2 tablespoons mini chocolate chips
• 1/4 cup coconut milk
• 1 ripe avocado, diced
• Juice of 1 lime
1. Special equipment: six 3- to 4-ounce ice-pop molds with wooden or plastic ice-pop sticks (without guards)
2. Puree the watermelon with 1/4 cup of the sugar in a blender. Pour into a medium bowl and freeze, stirring every 30 minutes, until the puree resembles a slushy mixture, about 2 hours.
3. Fold the chocolate chips into the watermelon slush and pour into six 3- to 4-ounce ice-pop molds, filling them about three-quarters full. Insert wooden or plastic (without guards) ice-pop sticks. Freeze until the mixture is just slightly set, about 30 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, mix the coconut milk and 2 tablespoons of sugar in a small bowl and refrigerate.
5. After 30 minutes, pour the coconut milk mixture on top of the watermelon mixture, leaving a 1/4-inch headspace at the top. Freeze until the mixture is just slightly set, about 30 minutes.
6. Right before the coconut milk mixture is just set, puree the avocado, lime juice, 1/4 cup of water and the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar in a blender until smooth and creamy. Top the coconut layer with the avocado mixture and freeze until solid, about 4 hours.
7. Let sit at room temperature for about 5 minutes before unmolding.