How to Safely Cut a Watermelon
Accidents involving fireworks and grilling aren’t the only injuries to watch out for this summer; watermelon wounds are also on the rise. But just because preparing this favorite seasonal fruit can be tricky doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it – you just need to know how to cut a watermelon safely. Read on to learn the best ways to cut a watermelon as well as how to store and enjoy it afterward.
The health benefits of watermelon
No matter how you prepare it, watermelon is healthy, versatile and easily accessible. It’s also incredibly delicious, not to mention surprisingly nutritious. (Nor is it as sugary as you may think!)
In fact, watermelon boasts many health benefits including:
- It’s hydrating, as it contains mostly water.
- It’s packed with vitamins and nutrients like beta carotene, vitamin C, vitamin A and fiber.
- It’s a top source of lycopene. (Watermelon has 40% more lycopene than tomatoes!)
- It may improve blood pressure.
What you need to safely cut a watermelon
Before cutting your watermelon, round up the following items:
- Watermelon: Select a watermelon that has bright skin, feels firm and is completely symmetrical. A ripe watermelon should have a deep, hollow sound – like a knock on a door – when you thump it.
- Cutting board: Use a large, non-slip cutting board that will fit the entire watermelon on its surface.
- Knife: A large, heavy-duty serrated knife with a thick blade is best for cutting watermelon.
- Dish towel: Laying a dish towel flat under your cutting board can help to keep it from slipping while cutting the watermelon. Dampen it for a more secure fit.
How to safely cut a watermelon into wedges
Follow these steps to avoid injury when cutting your watermelon:
- Before cutting, thoroughly rinse your melon to avoid the risk of bacterial contamination from the skin as you slice through the fruit.
- Dry the watermelon, knife and cutting board completely before cutting. (This same suggestion can go for pineapple, spaghetti squash or any food with a tough outer surface, as well as fruits with large pits like avocado and mango.)
- Cut the watermelon in half vertically from one end to the other.
- Then cut each half again vertically so your watermelon has been cut into quarters.
- Cut 1-inch wedges across a quarter of the melon so that you end up with triangle-sized pieces.
A whole watermelon can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. When storing a cut melon, wrap the cut side in plastic and store it in the fridge for up to three to four days. The plastic will prevent the watermelon from absorbing the flavors of other foods and will keep its flesh moist.
How to enjoy watermelon
The options for enjoying watermelon are endless. Here are a few of them:
- Simply slice it and eat it plain, or with a sprinkle of salt and a squeeze of lime.
- Try this classic pairing: watermelon, fresh mint and feta (or goat cheese, for a lower-sodium option).
- Add it to a refreshing summer salad.
- Make watermelon salsa, using watermelon in place of some (or all) of the tomatoes in your favorite salsa recipe.
- Infuse water with it.
- Grill it.
- Juice it.
- Puree it and use it in soups and mocktails like this one.
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Don’t throw out that rind!
Many are surprised to learn that the hard white and green rind that we typically toss after we eat the red and juicy fruit is as rich in flavonoids, lycopene and vitamin C as the flesh itself. The rind can be prepared in various ways; just remove the outer peel before eating it.
Here are a few ideas for things to do with watermelon rinds:
- Pickle it. You can then use the pickled rind as a condiment, use it as a salad topping or add it to your favorite chicken or tuna salad for a delightful crunch.
- Use it in chutney. Dice the rind into small pieces and use this sweet and tangy condiment to compliment chicken or fish.
- Toss it in curry. It just takes a short time to cook in Indian-style curry and does not become mushy.
- Gazpacho. It can be blended with tomatoes and cucumbers to make a cold summer soup.