Watermelons are one of the most popular fruits in America. They are grown throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico and South America. Watermelons are known to have many uses including food, beverages, medicine and even energy drinks. There are over 150 varieties of water melon available today with some being grown commercially for their freshness and others for their use as a sweetener or juice.
The watermelon was first cultivated in China around 3000 B.C., and it became common in Europe during the Middle Ages. By the time of Columbus, there were only two types of watermelons: those that ripened from seeds and those that grew from cuttings. When Europeans arrived in North America they brought with them a variety of different kinds of melons, which included cantaloupes (which are now called “watermelons” in the U.S.), pumpkins, kumquats, honeydews and other types of melons.
In the early days of farming, farmers used hoes to dig up the soil and then planted seeds into it. Once these seeds germinated they would grow into new plants. However, as technology improved and more land was available to farm, farmers began planting watermelons directly onto the ground instead of sowing them in rows. This led to the development of the popular seedless watermelons that most people enjoy today.
Watermelons ripen best at temperatures between 75 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit, and they won’t ripen at all if the temperature stays below 60 degrees. When a watermelon is ready to be picked, it will be very heavy for its size and will make a hollow sound when tapped on the ground.
Most watermelons have a thick, green rind and a juicy, sweet interior in red, pink or a combination of red and white. The seeds are black and soft, and most people do not eat them. The flesh of a ripe watermelon will be sweet, and if you bite into it, it should squirt juice onto your chin. The most common variety of watermelon is the large, oblong one with thick green skin. These are the ones you generally see at the supermarket and farmers’ markets.
They range in size from about 3 feet long and 2 feet wide up to as big as 9 feet long and 5 feet wide.
Watermelons will keep fresh for one to two weeks if stored at 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit. To determine if a watermelon is ripe, look for the underline stem at one end of the fruit. If it has a pale yellow or green color, then it is ripe. You can also push against the rind with your finger. A ripe watermelon will give slightly, but an unripe watermelon will not.
There are two types of watermelons: those with yellow flesh and those with red flesh. Yellow watermelons contain the carotenoid called citrol, which is converted by the body into vitamin A. Red watermelons contain lycopene, the pigment that makes tomatoes red and causes cherries to be dark red. These chemicals behave like beta-carotene and can reduce the risk of a heart attack or cancer.
Watermelons should be kept at a temperature of 55 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.
Watermelons are 92 percent water, which is why they make such a healthy snack and why they are great to eat during the hot summer months. They also contain vitamin C, beta carotene, B6 and copper, as well as the minerals potassium, magnesium and manganese.
Watermelons are 95 percent water.
The oldest watermelon weighed 85 pounds (38.5 kilograms) and was grown by Johnny Tapps of Chatsworth, Georgia, in 2012.
Chad Vatter of Flake, Wyoming created the world’s heaviest watermelon in 2008. It weighed 268 pounds (121.5 kilograms).
The National Watermelon Promotion Board began in 1992 and runs a Watermelon Drop on New Year’s Eve. The event was first held in 1907 in downtown Memphis, Tennessee when a watermelon marketer wanted a way to clear the remaining watermelons from his inventory before the new year. Some historians believe that slaves threw watermelons from the roof of a building to celebrate their emancipation on June 19, 1865. The event is held at Beale Street between Union and B.B.
King Boulevard at precisely 12:00 a.m. on December 31
“Watermelon” is a word from an old Native American language meaning “thrown away,” because early settlers in North America would grow too many watermelons for their use, so they would throw them away.
The world’s most expensive watermelon was grown in Japan in 2007. It sold for $10,000. It was a whooping 8.3 pounds (3.8 kilograms) and nearly five feet long.
In China, they hollow out large watermelons and use them as boats. The record is 1,518 passengers were taken for a ride in one watermelon boat that covered a distance of one mile on the White River in Madhya Pradesh, India. The watermelon boat was 46 feet long, 22 feet wide and 6 feet deep.
How much does a watermelon weigh?
It’s amazing how expensive watermelons are in the grocery store. If you buy one that is five dollars, it weighs at least 20 pounds! So you are paying over $200 per pound!
It has been determined that a five-ounce cup of watermelon contains only 42 calories. It also contains vitamin C and potassium as well as some other nutrients, but still not enough to make up for the cost!
How much water do you need to drink to stay hydrated?
The average person needs at least eight 8-ounce cups of fluid every day. Eight 8-ounce glasses makes one gallon of liquid. Most of us get plenty of fluid in our diet, but we sometimes forget just how much we are drinking. Water is not the only liquid that counts, however. Fruit and vegetable juices, milk, coffee and tea are also considered liquids.
Thirst is not a good indicator of how much fluid a person needs to drink. People often mistake thirst for hunger. A person who exercises or is outside in the heat for long periods of time will need more fluid than usual.
If you find that you are not going to drink enough fluids regularly, make sure you have some with you at all times. You can keep a bottle of water in your car or in your classroom. Drink a full bottle every two or three hours. If you carry a purse or bag, always have a bottle of water in it.
How much should you drink during physical activity?
The hotter and more strenuous the exercise, the more you need to drink. You should be drinking about six to eight ounces of fluid every 20 to 30 minutes while you are exercising, depending on how hard you are working. It is better to drink too much than not enough. It is easy to prevent dehydration if you remember to drink plenty of fluids during and after exercise.
The color of your urine is an indicator of how well you are hydrated. If your urine is a dark yellow, you are probably not drinking enough water. If it is a very pale yellow, you are probably drinking too much water. The ideal color is a rich gold color. This indicates that you are drinking just the right amount of water for your body.
What if you are a really active person?
If you are an athlete or someone who is very physically active, you will need to increase your fluid intake. The body loses fluid during strenuous exercise. You may even sweat during routine exercise if the environment is hot. Your heart has to work harder to pump blood to your skin so that you can cool off.
The best way to tell if you are drinking enough is to weigh yourself before and after exercise. For every pound of weight loss, you need to drink 32 ounces of fluid. So, if you weigh yourself before and after practice and you lose two pounds, you need to drink 96 ounces of fluid (two pounds divided by half a pound per ounce)
During football practice in Alabama, players are encouraged to drink a gallon of water after practice. This is two pounds of fluid loss.
How do you prevent dehydration?
It’s easy to become dehydrated if you don’t drink enough fluids. If you are exercising or playing in a very hot and humid environment, you increase your risk of becoming dehydrated. The harder you are working, especially in these conditions, the more water you need to drink.
Drink extra fluids before you exercise or play in the heat. Don’t wait until you are thirsty to begin drinking since this is a sign that you are already becoming dehydrated.
Try to drink small amounts of water every 10 to 15 minutes. This will keep your body supplied with enough fluid so that it can be absorbed into your blood stream and hydrate your cells.
Drink more than eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. Your activity level and the weather conditions will determine how much you need to drink.
What should you do if someone is dehydrated?
If someone is dehydrated, they will need to be treated by a physician. The doctor may treat the person for dehydration or may admit him or her to the hospital for intravenous fluids.
Sometimes, the best thing to do is to have that person drink as much as they can as quickly as they can. Someone who is severely dehydrated cannot absorb fluids very well. The fastest way to re-hydrate them is by putting an IV into their arm and pumping fluids directly into their blood stream.
The IV allows the physician to pump in a liter or more of fluid in just a few minutes. The person is closely watched to see how their body reacts to this treatment. If they respond well, they can continue to receive this treatment until they are re-hydrated.
Can you drink too much water?
It seems that people are always concerned that they might drink too much water. In reality, it’s very difficult to do.
People are more likely to under-drink fluids than drink too much. If you are concerned about your hydration level, just check the color of your urine. A nice, light yellow color is a good indicator that you are drinking enough water. If it’s a dark yellow or even orange color, you need to drink more water.
A general rule of thumb is that children need more fluids than adults because they are constantly sweating. Also, small children and babies need to have their drinks diluted by 50% with water.
Also, if you are really concerned about your hydration level, you can buy hydration test strips that let you check your urine’s specific gravity. In most cases, though, it’s not really necessary. Most of us get plenty of fluids in our diets.
If you are in sustained, strenuous exercise or active work, you will probably need to drink more fluids than usual. Your body will tell you when you need to drink more by making you thirsty. Listen to your body and don’t wait until you become thirsty before drinking. By then, you may already be slightly dehydrated.
What about alcohol and caffeine? Should you avoid them if you’re trying to stay hydrated?
Alcohol can actually cause your body to lose more fluids. Alcohol acts as a diuretic, which causes you to urinate more than normal. While this may seem like it would make you more hydrated, the loss of vital water from your body due to alcohol can dehydrate you faster than just drinking water alone.
Caffeine has a diuretic effect as well. If you’re going to be drinking caffeinated beverages, make sure you are also drinking extra fluids to offset this effect.
It’s important to stay as hydrated as possible during the summer and especially on hot days. Remember, though, that water is not the only way to re-hydrate yourself. Sports drinks and fresh juices can provide your body with valuable electrolytes that are lost when you sweat.
Also, be sure to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables that offer a good source of water in their raw form. You should avoid drinks like tea, coffee and soda, though. These drinks actually have a dehydrating effect on your body. They may not cause you to lose more fluids but they do take away needed water from your system.
By following these tips on staying hydrated, you can bet that you’ll be ready to enjoy the rest of the summer heat!
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Sources & references used in this article:
Honey bee visit numbers and watermelon pollination by WC Adlerz – Journal of Economic Entomology, 1966 – academic.oup.com
Honey bee activity in relation to pollination and fruit set in the cantaloupe (Cucumis melo) by LK Mann – American Journal of Botany, 1953 – JSTOR
Stigma secretion in the watermelon before and after pollination by M Sedgley, PB Scholefield – Botanical Gazette, 1980 – journals.uchicago.edu