Aug 30, 2013

Watermelon Facts

The watermelon grows on vines on the ground. It is a member of the Cucurbitaceae family and is related to cantaloupe, squash and pumpkin. Some varieties of watermelon come with a variety of rind and flesh colors. The inside flesh of the popular varieties are red or yellow. The watermelon grows in many different shapes. Watermelon has 92% water. Watermelon contains vitamins A, B6 and C. You can eat every part of a watermelon, including the seeds and rinds.

Thought to be the ancestor of the original watermelon, the white-skinned citron first grew in the Kalahari Desert of Africa. Egyptians recorded the earliest harvest of them 5,000 years ago. Watermelons were depicted in hieroglyphics that adorned the ancient walls of their structures. They buried the fruit in the tombs of their kings, because they believed it nourished them in the afterlife.

Watermelons spread by merchant ships to other countries as they traveled to conduct their business. The plants flourished along the Mediterranean Sea, and by the 10th century they made their way to China. Later in the 13th century the Moors helped spread the watermelon throughout Europe.

The watermelon may have made its way to the United States during the African slavery trade via slaves carrying the seeds on the ships. The word watermelon made its first debut in the English Dictionary in 1615. There are five states that currently lead watermelon production in the US - Florida, Texas, California, Georgia, and Arizona. The United States ranks as number four in worldwide production of watermelon. China is number one. 96 countries grow watermelons globally. Chinese and Japanese often give watermelons to the host when they visit. Israelis and Egyptians enjoy salads made with sweet watermelon and salty feta cheese.

Watermelons come in 1200 different varieties. Recent cultivations led to development of several desirable characteristics of the fruit, including seedless varieties and ones with thin rinds.