Watermelon: What Makes It Distinct and Why Many People Love It

So it is summertime.

It is hot inside and boiling outside, and your feeling of thirst piles up quickly after your last glass of water. You think of some watery summer fruits to stay hydrated and get some refreshment. Sweet, ripe, and nourishing. That is precisely what you are looking for.

Among the tens of famous summer fruits, watermelon is a whole other thing. Whether it is its size, beautiful colours, tenderly sweet taste, super watery content, or nutrients, just viewing a cool slice of watermelon on a hot summer day, let alone consuming it, is as satisfying as it is transforming for so many people, myself included.

In this article, we are going to explore, in some detail, what precisely is watermelon, why it is distinct, and what makes it the entire planet’s favourite fruit.

So let’s hop into it.

Watermelon

Watermelon is one of the most famous, largely produced, and widely consumed fruits worldwide. Such popularity could be both the reason for and the result of more than 1,000 watermelon varieties now grown everywhere in the world.

Contrary to the common belief, watermelon is not the largest fruit, but the Atlantic giant pumpkin is. And unlike what many kids may think, most probably because it has green skin, watermelon is not a vegetable but rather a fruit.

What makes watermelon fruit is that it is the flower of a tree. But a round, green, super large and heavy flower too. Vegetables, on the other hand, come from other parts of the tree.

With hard, green skin on the outside, watermelon is red and mushy on the inside. But it is not that ‘fleshy’, if you know what I mean. Compared to that of a melon or a cantaloupe, watermelon flesh is not as hard at all.

History

Humans have grown watermelon since prehistoric times. It is believed its cultivation was started in Northeast Africa around 3500 BC. This was known by the seeds archaeologists found in Libya and dated back to that time. Gradually, over thousands of years, watermelon was introduced to Europe, Asia, and everywhere else in the world.

Our ancestors cultivated watermelon basically for its high water content, not only to hydrate during the summer but also as a way to store water for the winter. In this context, watermelon may be the first water flask in history!

That round water flask, however, was not sweet but bitter. It was also hard to open, somehow like a coconut, and the inside was white to yellow.

Planting watermelons in different countries, weathers, soils, along with many years of laboratory modifications allowed differences to emerge to the fruit until we got the sweet, bloody-red watermelon of today. Not only that, but such changes could produce over 1,000 varieties of watermelon, and we will look more into that later.

Uses

watermelon LearningMole

I pretty much love to think of watermelon as a jack of all trades but also a master of all. 

Besides its mere nature making it many people’s favourite fruit, watermelon is incredibly flexible to be used and consumed in a variety of ways.

The most common way to consume watermelon is to cut it into triangular slices or to peel it completely and cut the flesh into small cubes. Yet, watermelon can be consumed as a drink, a juice. Combined with other seasonal fruits, watermelon can be used to make healthy refreshing smoothies or fruit salads. Some like to eat watermelon alongside cheese and bread (yes, sweet and salty).

Watermelon seeds can be dried or toasted and then consumed as a healthy snack while watching TV or staying on the porch in the late afternoon of a breezy summer day. The seeds can also be ground and turned into flour. This flour is super healthy as it is gluten-free, has a small content of carbohydrates, and a high amount of protein and nutritional fat, making it perfect for weight loss.

Surprisingly, some people even like to make chilled watermelon soup. This might sound odd to some, myself included, but it is shockingly delicious. It uses multiple other ingredients, such as olive oil, lime juice, and vinegar, alongside the sweet taste of watermelon to make the perfect sweet/sour soup.

What might not be very common is consuming watermelon rind. Rinds are the green skin of the watermelon, which we usually throw away. But they are actually edible. Interestingly, the rind is sometimes referred to as cucumber, probably because it is green.

Watermelon rinds make up about 40% of the total mass of the fruit. They have a good content of fibre and a high level of nutrients which makes throwing them away such a big waste.

But why do many people not like to eat the rind?

Well, most probably because it is not sweet. In fact, it is either mild or tasting like a carrot and a cucumber combined. And indeed no one likes to eat a carrot and a cucumber combined after the sweet chilly flesh of a watermelon.

That is why many people like to pickle the rind and consume it with other main courses. Others turn it into candy. The rind can also be added to smoothies with other ingredients.

Production

Watermelon is usually grown in tropical regions. These are located around the equator and do not experience defined seasons as other places. For instance, they are characterised by hot weather and rain all year long.

That said, watermelon can also grow in temperate places where rain is moderate, happening only for a certain period of the year, and is usually followed by drought. Unlike tropical regions, temperate areas experience summer and winter. Summer is typically warm, while winter is cool to cold.

In 2020, global watermelon production reached 101.6 million tons. China is currently on top of the watermelon-producing countries with an annual production exceeding 60 million tons. In contrast, no other country, not even the United States, produces even one-tenth of that.

Varieties 

Farmers are familiar with a practice called breeding, which they do with animals and plants. Breeding can be boiled down to this: one species is combined with another close species to come up with a new species.

And because plants can grow differently based on the planting conditions, endless varieties can be produced by combining different types of plants.

For watermelon, varieties are not, however, endless. They are 1,200, which is still a super large number! Can you even imagine that after what you ate last summer, you still have another 1,199 types of watermelon to try? Types that are different in taste, size, and colour?

Those 1,200 watermelon varieties can be as small as 1 kg, as large as 90 kg, or anything between them. They range in flesh colour from red and pink to yellow and orange. Some watermelon types even have white flesh—you can guess what these taste like already.

Many experiments have been done to adjust the characteristics of watermelons. Some try to make them sweeter. Others aim to change the flesh or skin colours or reduce the number of seeds inside. For example, India produces dark green, almost black-skinned watermelons that look like giant blueberries.

Another interesting watermelon variety was the one produced by the New York-based Henderson Seed Company back in 1926. It is called the moon and stars watermelon. Its skin is dark green (but not as dark as that variety from India) with bright yellow speckles of ranging sizes. So the watermelon does look like a night sky with sparkling stars.

Interestingly, this moon and stars watermelon variety is not limited to the regular round shape but can also be prolonged or pear-shaped. In addition, it is now produced in many different places worldwide.

Varieties are not only concerning size, taste, and colour. But they can also be about other characteristics of watermelon as a plant. For instance, charleston is a watermelon type that was bred especially to resist most, if not all, watermelon diseases. You may think of it as a disease-proof fruit.

Interestingly, the changes the regular watermelon underwent to become a charleston made it prolonged and grey instead of round and green.

Cube watermelon

One of the most interesting, and maybe even odd, watermelon varieties is the square or cube watermelon. Well, yes, that is correct, a cube.

Though some might not quite understand the purpose of creating bizarre varieties of fruit, especially watermelon, this cube variety was made for rational reasons: to fit in the fridge and not roll while cutting! Are these not two things watermelon lovers struggle with?

The cube watermelon was ‘created’ by a Japanese graphic designer. I am not sure if he dealt with it as a fruit or a work of art but he did introduce it in an art gallery in Japan in 1978.

The thing with such supposedly innovative but rather bizarre varieties of something is that the cost of producing them usually comes at the expense of other essential features. This applies to the cube watermelon too.

First off, producing a cube watermelon is costly. To obtain the cube shape, watermelon must be grown in a container. Yet, to retain that cube shape, watermelon has to be harvested before it is ripe, which makes it inedible.

That means those who buy cube watermelons are either unaware they are inedible or are aware of that but just like to keep them as antiques until they go rotten. And those who buy cube watermelons are typically wealthy because it is super expensive. For instance, one cube watermelon cost $200 in the US in 2014.

Nutritional value

The high production, as well as consumption of watermelon, is not just attributed to its sweet taste and refreshing hydrating effect. But watermelon is full of nutrients that are essential for maintaining good health. With moderate consumption, watermelon makes a great treat to satisfy one’s sweet tooth without spiking their blood sugar.

Every 100 grams of watermelon include

  1. Calorie: 30
  2. Carbohydrates: 7.55 grams
  3. Fibre: 0.4 grams
  4. Fat: 0.15 grams
  5. Protein: 0.61 grams

Watermelon also has a high content of amino acids, vitamins, and minerals, including Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Vitamin B6, as well as choline, calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium.

Health benefits

All these nutrients provide great benefits to the body, which include

  1. Promoting heart health.
  2. Improving blood cycle.
  3. Protecting against heart attacks.
  4. Protecting against inflammation.
  5. Helping the skin stay smooth.
  6. Helping relieve muscle soreness.
  7. Improving digestion.

Conclusion

And so we come to the end of today’s lesson about watermelon.

In this article, we discussed summer’s most famous and probably everyone’s favourite fruit, watermelon, a little about its history, and how it was cultivated thousands of years ago mainly as a water source.

We then demonstrated how watermelon can be consumed, from slices or cubes as a dessert, juice, and smoothies to fruit salads and savoury soups. We also explained how the not-very-popular rind can be consumed; one of those ways is by pickling.

After that, we moved to the varieties of watermelon, which exceed 1,200. We discussed some of those varieties that revolve around different flesh or skin colours, sizes, sweetness levels, and even how many seeds are in the watermelon. One of the most famous, most expensive, and yet inedible varieties is the Japanese cube watermelon.

Finally, we looked into the nutritional value of watermelon and its great health benefits that make it an indispensable part of a healthy diet.

We hope you liked today’s lesson as much as we enjoyed writing it for you. If you want to learn more about fruits, vegetables, and many other interesting things, keep coming back to our website.

Watermelon: What Makes It Distinct and Why Many People Love It

watermelon LearningMole

So it is summertime.

It is hot inside and boiling outside, and your feeling of thirst piles up quickly after your last glass of water. You think of some watery summer fruits to stay hydrated and get some refreshment. Sweet, ripe, and nourishing. That is precisely what you are looking for.

Among the tens of famous summer fruits, watermelon is a whole other thing. Whether it is its size, beautiful colours, tenderly sweet taste, super watery content, or nutrients, just viewing a cool slice of watermelon on a hot summer day, let alone consuming it, is as satisfying as it is transforming for so many people, myself included.

In this article, we are going to explore, in some detail, what precisely is watermelon, why it is distinct, and what makes it the entire planet’s favourite fruit.

So let’s hop into it.

Watermelon

Watermelon is one of the most famous, largely produced, and widely consumed fruits worldwide. Such popularity could be both the reason for and the result of more than 1,000 watermelon varieties now grown everywhere in the world.

Contrary to the common belief, watermelon is not the largest fruit, but the Atlantic giant pumpkin is. And unlike what many kids may think, most probably because it has green skin, watermelon is not a vegetable but rather a fruit.

What makes watermelon fruit is that it is the flower of a tree. But a round, green, super large and heavy flower too. Vegetables, on the other hand, come from other parts of the tree.

With hard, green skin on the outside, watermelon is red and mushy on the inside. But it is not that ‘fleshy’, if you know what I mean. Compared to that of a melon or a cantaloupe, watermelon flesh is not as hard at all.

History

Humans have grown watermelon since prehistoric times. It is believed its cultivation was started in Northeast Africa around 3500 BC. This was known by the seeds archaeologists found in Libya and dated back to that time. Gradually, over thousands of years, watermelon was introduced to Europe, Asia, and everywhere else in the world.

Our ancestors cultivated watermelon basically for its high water content, not only to hydrate during the summer but also as a way to store water for the winter. In this context, watermelon may be the first water flask in history!

That round water flask, however, was not sweet but bitter. It was also hard to open, somehow like a coconut, and the inside was white to yellow.

Planting watermelons in different countries, weathers, soils, along with many years of laboratory modifications allowed differences to emerge to the fruit until we got the sweet, bloody-red watermelon of today. Not only that, but such changes could produce over 1,000 varieties of watermelon, and we will look more into that later.

Uses

watermelon LearningMole

I pretty much love to think of watermelon as a jack of all trades but also a master of all. 

Besides its mere nature making it many people’s favourite fruit, watermelon is incredibly flexible to be used and consumed in a variety of ways.

The most common way to consume watermelon is to cut it into triangular slices or to peel it completely and cut the flesh into small cubes. Yet, watermelon can be consumed as a drink, a juice. Combined with other seasonal fruits, watermelon can be used to make healthy refreshing smoothies or fruit salads. Some like to eat watermelon alongside cheese and bread (yes, sweet and salty).

Watermelon seeds can be dried or toasted and then consumed as a healthy snack while watching TV or staying on the porch in the late afternoon of a breezy summer day. The seeds can also be ground and turned into flour. This flour is super healthy as it is gluten-free, has a small content of carbohydrates, and a high amount of protein and nutritional fat, making it perfect for weight loss.

Surprisingly, some people even like to make chilled watermelon soup. This might sound odd to some, myself included, but it is shockingly delicious. It uses multiple other ingredients, such as olive oil, lime juice, and vinegar, alongside the sweet taste of watermelon to make the perfect sweet/sour soup.

What might not be very common is consuming watermelon rind. Rinds are the green skin of the watermelon, which we usually throw away. But they are actually edible. Interestingly, the rind is sometimes referred to as cucumber, probably because it is green.

Watermelon rinds make up about 40% of the total mass of the fruit. They have a good content of fibre and a high level of nutrients which makes throwing them away such a big waste.

But why do many people not like to eat the rind?

Well, most probably because it is not sweet. In fact, it is either mild or tasting like a carrot and a cucumber combined. And indeed no one likes to eat a carrot and a cucumber combined after the sweet chilly flesh of a watermelon.

That is why many people like to pickle the rind and consume it with other main courses. Others turn it into candy. The rind can also be added to smoothies with other ingredients.

Production

Watermelon is usually grown in tropical regions. These are located around the equator and do not experience defined seasons as other places. For instance, they are characterised by hot weather and rain all year long.

That said, watermelon can also grow in temperate places where rain is moderate, happening only for a certain period of the year, and is usually followed by drought. Unlike tropical regions, temperate areas experience summer and winter. Summer is typically warm, while winter is cool to cold.

In 2020, global watermelon production reached 101.6 million tons. China is currently on top of the watermelon-producing countries with an annual production exceeding 60 million tons. In contrast, no other country, not even the United States, produces even one-tenth of that.

Varieties 

Farmers are familiar with a practice called breeding, which they do with animals and plants. Breeding can be boiled down to this: one species is combined with another close species to come up with a new species.

And because plants can grow differently based on the planting conditions, endless varieties can be produced by combining different types of plants.

For watermelon, varieties are not, however, endless. They are 1,200, which is still a super large number! Can you even imagine that after what you ate last summer, you still have another 1,199 types of watermelon to try? Types that are different in taste, size, and colour?

Those 1,200 watermelon varieties can be as small as 1 kg, as large as 90 kg, or anything between them. They range in flesh colour from red and pink to yellow and orange. Some watermelon types even have white flesh—you can guess what these taste like already.

Many experiments have been done to adjust the characteristics of watermelons. Some try to make them sweeter. Others aim to change the flesh or skin colours or reduce the number of seeds inside. For example, India produces dark green, almost black-skinned watermelons that look like giant blueberries.

Another interesting watermelon variety was the one produced by the New York-based Henderson Seed Company back in 1926. It is called the moon and stars watermelon. Its skin is dark green (but not as dark as that variety from India) with bright yellow speckles of ranging sizes. So the watermelon does look like a night sky with sparkling stars.

Interestingly, this moon and stars watermelon variety is not limited to the regular round shape but can also be prolonged or pear-shaped. In addition, it is now produced in many different places worldwide.

Varieties are not only concerning size, taste, and colour. But they can also be about other characteristics of watermelon as a plant. For instance, charleston is a watermelon type that was bred especially to resist most, if not all, watermelon diseases. You may think of it as a disease-proof fruit.

Interestingly, the changes the regular watermelon underwent to become a charleston made it prolonged and grey instead of round and green.

Cube watermelon

One of the most interesting, and maybe even odd, watermelon varieties is the square or cube watermelon. Well, yes, that is correct, a cube.

Though some might not quite understand the purpose of creating bizarre varieties of fruit, especially watermelon, this cube variety was made for rational reasons: to fit in the fridge and not roll while cutting! Are these not two things watermelon lovers struggle with?

The cube watermelon was ‘created’ by a Japanese graphic designer. I am not sure if he dealt with it as a fruit or a work of art but he did introduce it in an art gallery in Japan in 1978.

The thing with such supposedly innovative but rather bizarre varieties of something is that the cost of producing them usually comes at the expense of other essential features. This applies to the cube watermelon too.

First off, producing a cube watermelon is costly. To obtain the cube shape, watermelon must be grown in a container. Yet, to retain that cube shape, watermelon has to be harvested before it is ripe, which makes it inedible.

That means those who buy cube watermelons are either unaware they are inedible or are aware of that but just like to keep them as antiques until they go rotten. And those who buy cube watermelons are typically wealthy because it is super expensive. For instance, one cube watermelon cost $200 in the US in 2014.

Nutritional value

The high production, as well as consumption of watermelon, is not just attributed to its sweet taste and refreshing hydrating effect. But watermelon is full of nutrients that are essential for maintaining good health. With moderate consumption, watermelon makes a great treat to satisfy one’s sweet tooth without spiking their blood sugar.

Every 100 grams of watermelon include

  1. Calorie: 30
  2. Carbohydrates: 7.55 grams
  3. Fibre: 0.4 grams
  4. Fat: 0.15 grams
  5. Protein: 0.61 grams

Watermelon also has a high content of amino acids, vitamins, and minerals, including Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Vitamin B6, as well as choline, calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium.

Health benefits

All these nutrients provide great benefits to the body, which include

  1. Promoting heart health.
  2. Improving blood cycle.
  3. Protecting against heart attacks.
  4. Protecting against inflammation.
  5. Helping the skin stay smooth.
  6. Helping relieve muscle soreness.
  7. Improving digestion.

Conclusion

And so we come to the end of today’s lesson about watermelon.

In this article, we discussed summer’s most famous and probably everyone’s favourite fruit, watermelon, a little about its history, and how it was cultivated thousands of years ago mainly as a water source.

We then demonstrated how watermelon can be consumed, from slices or cubes as a dessert, juice, and smoothies to fruit salads and savoury soups. We also explained how the not-very-popular rind can be consumed; one of those ways is by pickling.

After that, we moved to the varieties of watermelon, which exceed 1,200. We discussed some of those varieties that revolve around different flesh or skin colours, sizes, sweetness levels, and even how many seeds are in the watermelon. One of the most famous, most expensive, and yet inedible varieties is the Japanese cube watermelon.

Finally, we looked into the nutritional value of watermelon and its great health benefits that make it an indispensable part of a healthy diet.

We hope you liked today’s lesson as much as we enjoyed writing it for you. If you want to learn more about fruits, vegetables, and many other interesting things, keep coming back to our website.

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