Summer at my daughter’s house can be counted in watermelons. On any hot day, she can be counted on to bring out a giant bowl of cut-up watermelon chunks or slices (which, by the way, when put on top of a vegetable steamer placed in the bottom of the bowl, will not turn mushy).
With less than a week to go, it looks as if this month will top the charts to become the hottest July on record on Long Island, where I live. So it has been a watermelon summer – and not only for the pleasure of the crunch, the hydration, or the sweetness. According to researchers at the universities of Newcastle and Manchester in Great Britain, watermelon can help protect the skin against sunburn and premature aging caused by ultraviolet rays.
The fruit’s protective power comes from the antioxidant lycopene, which gives many foods their red color. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, an ounce of watermelon has 75% more lycopene than an ounce of raw red tomatoes although when cooked, tomatoes have the edge. Never mind. It’s watermelon season.
If watermelon au natural is not for you, here are some things you can do to dress it up.
Cool. Cut a hole into its center. Infuse with your drink of choice, refrigerate and then cut into pieces.
Disgusting. Those hell-bent on diminishing the healthy appeal of the fruit you can (this is not my idea) deep fry it. The mere sound of that makes me cringe, but there is a recipe for everything. Just slice the melon, cut into squares, diamonds or circles, remove the seeds and then coat with flour. Make a batter from 2 egg whites, 7 tablespoons of cornstarch and a little water. Heat 3 cups of vegetable oil to 250°F in a deep fryer, dip watermelon pieces into the batter and then fry until coating becomes firm. Turn off heat; continue frying until pieces are light brown. Remove, drain, and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Chew two Tums and, most likely, say, “Why did I eat that?”
Fun. Rinse and dry pits. Bring out the paints, glitter and glue and let the kids make pit paintings.