Bernie Mason: Versatile watermelon can be used in many ways

2014-07-23T00:00:00Z 2014-09-01T10:47:05Z Bernie Mason: Versatile watermelon can be used in many waysBy BERNIE MASON The Billings Gazette
July 23, 2014 12:00 am  • 

July is National Watermelon Month, so let’s enjoy this wonderful fruit to its fullest.

Watermelon is that sure sign of summer we love. Its naturally delicious sweet taste makes it a popular choice for any summer barbeque or picnic. Besides its great flavor, watermelon has some wonderful health benefits. One benefit is the low calorie content and the fact that it is fat free.

Since watermelon is made up of 92 percent water and electrolytes, it can be counted on to help hydrate the body on a hot summer day. Along with that, it provides the body with a good supply of potassium, vitamins C and A, and also vitamin B6. It also provides a good dose of lycopene to help protect you from the sun’s ultraviolet rays and add to your heart health.

Watermelon is very versatile and can be used in many ways. For a cooling sorbet, put the cubes in a blender or food processor to make a puree. Add cooked syrup made with sugar, water and lemon juice and freeze. At the MSUB Wine and Food Festival this spring, Nick Steen, executive chef at the Lone Mountan Guest Ranch, made several versions of watermelon for his students to sample. Among them were carbonated watermelon with basil, pickled watermelon rind with goat cheese and the sorbet.

Watermelon can be used in a variety of ways to make a refreshing summer salad.

A delicious salad I like to serve with Mexican food is made by combining equal parts of cubed seedless watermelon and jicama, cut into matchstick-thin pieces. Add a little fresh lime juice for a dressing, and stir in some chopped mint leaves for a salad your guests will love.

Watermelon is also a great choice to serve as a salsa.

Fruit Salsa

From “Living Well – More Than a Cookbook”

1 cup chopped cantaloupe

1 cup chopped watermelon

3 tomatoes, seeded and chopped

½ cup chopped red onion

1 jalapeno chili, minced

2 small limes

1 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

Combine the cantaloupe, watermelon, tomatoes, onion and jalapeno chili in a medium bowl. Add the lime juice along with the salt and pepper. Toss lightly to mix together. Serve with tortilla chips.

All parts of the watermelon can be eaten. Try saving the rind to be made into watermelon pickles. The sweet pickles can be processed or made into a fresh refrigerated version. Rather than pickling the rind, the hollowed-out watermelon shell can be shaped into a great bowl for serving a salad. Carve it into a whale-shaped bowl for an extra flair.

When you see the large container of watermelon in the store, think of all the wonderful options and benefits it provides.

After nearly 25 years as the MSU/Yellowstone County Family & Consumer Sciences Extension Agent, Bernie Mason has recently retired. Now she is busy being a “Nana” to her two grandchildren and spending time as a volunteer in activities supporting children and families. She enjoys trying out new recipes and sharing the results with others.

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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