Nothing refreshes you more during the summer than a big chunk of ripe watermelon. This week the Fethiye market is full of them for less than a lira per kilo in most cases.
One true sign of summer in Fethiye is when you notice the melon man tooting his horn and slowly driving his truck past your property in Turkey selling his honey and water melons. Make shift stalls start springing up all over town piled high with these massive tasty fruits, even the likes of Migros and Tansas (supermarkets in Fethiye), stack them high by the doors tempting shoppers to make the most of them whilst they are in season.
So what are the health benefits of watermelon?
Watermelons, as the name would suggest, are mostly made up of water (92 percent). They are relatively low in calories (around 152g or a cup equates to around 40 calories) and surprisingly rich in antioxidants and nutrients. According to the National Watermelon Promotion Board, watermelon contains vitamins C and B-6, magnesium, potassium, zinc, copper, thiamin, manganese, niacin, selenium and more lycopene than any other fruit or vegetable.
Almost all fruits and vegetables have certain health benefits, their nutrients reducing the risks of all sorts of health conditions and illnesses. According to the websites Life Science and Medical News Today, studies have suggested that incorporating a regular intake of watermelon to your diet can help you live longer, decrease the risks of obesity, heart disease and diabetes. It is also fabulous for clearing up your complexion, increasing your energy levels and helping you stay slim.
How to tell if a watermelon is ripe.
I have often watched those buying watermelons slapping, prodding and poking them in an attempt to choose the ripest and tastiest one available. This is indeed the way to tell according to the Watermelon Board. Ripe melons should sound hollow and feel heavy when lifted. The ‘field spot’ or the spot to one end that would have sat on the ground, should be yellowish and noticeable, not small, pale, cream or green. Also, if there are scuffed patches on the skin, this doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s rotten or should be discarded, simply stick to the above and you should come away with a great fruit.
How to incorporate it into your diet:
The most common and cheapest watermelon you find around Fethiye is the seeded variety with the notable stripes along the skin. In some supermarkets, for a little extra, you can also find the non-seeded version, normally rounder in shape with a darker green skin and few or no stripes along it’s length…I guess it’s personal preference as to which you prefer. In the following recipe adapted from the website ‘Do It Delicious’, the no seed variety was used:
WATERMELON, FETA, BASIL AND RED ONION SALAD
1/2 Small Seedless Watermelon (or 1/4 of a large one)
1/2 Red Onion
Handful of Fresh Basil Leaves
1/4 Cup (2oz) Crumbled Feta
2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Dash of Balsamic Vinegar
Fresh Lemon or Lime Juice
Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste
Using a large spoon, ice cream scoop or melon baller, scoop out bite-size pieces of melon into a large serving bowl.
Thinly slice the red onion and scatter across the watermelon.
Crumble the Feta cheese over the salad.
Mix the lemon/lime juice with the olive oil and a dash or two of balsamic and drizzle over the dish for a sensational salad.
(Recipe image from Do It Delicious website, main image by Miroslav Vajdic on Flickr)