We generally think of organic watermelon as a summertime snack, but this juicy treat is available year-round.

It may surprise you to learn that watermelon is a vegetable because it’s part of the cucumber and squash family—a classification that remains controversial.

Composed of 92% water and 8% sugar, watermelon has long been recognized as a weight watcher’s BFF. A half-cup serving of diced watermelon has only 25 calories and meets 10% of your daily vitamin C requirement.

Some of the latest research shows watermelon contains high concentrations of lycopene, an antioxidant that may help reduce cancer risk. In addition, a 2007 U.S. Department of Agriculture study cited watermelon’s role in cardiovascular health, with amino acids that help maintain arteries and blood flow.

There are more than 50 U.S. watermelon varieties, available with red, orange or yellow flesh. The four most popular categories are:

  1. AllSweet: 20–25 pounds, red flesh, oblong shape, dark green rind (with or without stripes); best served “as-is,” simply sliced and eaten
  2. Ice-Box: 5–15 pounds, red or yellow flesh, round shape, dark or light green rind; great for cooking/recipes
  3. Seedless: 10–25 pounds, red or yellow flesh, oval to round shape, light green rind with dark green stripes; ideal for beverages and sorbets
  4. Yellow Flesh: 10–30 pounds, yellow to bright-orange flesh, oblong to long shape, light green rind with mottled stripes; use in kebobs and garnishes

One of the newest pairings on restaurant menus is watermelon and cheese, a trend borrowed from Mediterranean cuisine. Tune in tomorrow and Saturday for two such delectable recipes.

In the meantime, enjoy these recipes from our organic blog:

Photo courtesy of the National Watermelon Promotion Board