Watermelon is summer’s superhero: it’s refreshing, full of liquid and nutrients and heavy enough to provide a workout just by carrying it home from the grocery store. While delicious eaten by the slice for an outdoor picnic or Shabbat meal, there are many more ways to get the most out of watermelon before summer’s over.
The trickiest part to watermelon is finding the juiciest, sweetest one. At the store you often find yourself with a crate full of similar looking melons—so how do you know which one is perfectly ripe? First, take a look at the color. You want a melon that is dark green and dull, not shiny. Next, give it a lift. The heavier the better, as it means that the melon is full of juice. Pick up a few to make sure you are getting the heaviest one you can find. Lastly, look for a yellow spot. This is where the melon was resting on the ground, and you want that spot to be large and a golden color; if it’s pale or small that means it’s not yet ripe. One final trick is to give it a knock. While not the easiest or most foolproof indicator, a good final check is to see if your watermelon sounds hollow.
Now that you know how to pick the perfect watermelon, there are plenty of ways to enjoy it so you can eat it every day without getting sick of it!
Gazpacho is the soup of summer, but did you know it can be made with more than just tomatoes? Throw some fresh watermelon into the blender with your tomatoes to make Watermelon Gazpacho. This no-cook recipe tastes best after an overnight rest in the refrigerator, so it’s perfect to make during the week ahead of your Shabbat plans.
Another chilled soup (it’s summer after all!) is a powerhouse of summer fruit. Balsamic Laced Watermelon Soup is full of fresh watermelon, frozen strawberries and balsamic vinegar to counteract the sweetness from the fresh fruit. A surprising twist to this soup is the addition of sparkling water just before serving for a bubbly pop.
If salads are more your style, watermelon makes for a great addition to chopped salads. You can add it to your favorite Israeli Salad or let it be the star in this Watermelon and Feta Salad with Mint. Summer recipes are all about letting the fresh ingredients shine on their own, and this salad is a perfect way to do that with watermelon. The sweet and juicy slices are paired with tangy feta cheese and brightened by fresh mint and lime juice. The salad can be prepped in advance and arranged on a platter just before serving.
Frozen watermelon cubes are a great poolside treat and can even be added to sangria instead of ice cubes. Another way to enjoy it frozen is with Watermelon Granita. You start by making a mint syrup, then add that to pureed watermelon and freeze everything in a pan. Every 30 minutes you will need to scrape the mixture with a fork, creating a fluffy shaved-ice-style treat that can be kept for months (so make sure to prepare a batch in the last few weeks of summer). Alternatively, have an ice cream maker? Let it do the heavy lifting for Watermelon Sorbet!
You can also stop after pureeing, add some salt (yes, really!) to cut the sweetness and drink it up as Salted Watermelon Juice. Some tequila and lime juice takes it up to margarita status for the 21-plus set, or go for a Sparking Watermelon Cocktail, Mojito or Sandia Smash.
If you compost, you can throw your watermelon rinds in there along with onion skins and potato peels. But you can also eat them if you make Watermelon Rind Kimchi. The white part of the watermelon rind gets thinly sliced and tossed with garlic, gochujang (a Korean red chili paste), ginger, salt and honey. It ferments at room temperature for up to four days, after which you can store in the fridge for several weeks. It’s a great topping for sandwiches, grain bowls or scrambled eggs.
Now that you’re primed with picking tips and recipes, enjoy the last few weeks of watermelon season before its fall cousin—pumpkin—takes over.