It’s August the 3rd – World Watermelon Day! A great excuse to not only eat a lot of this delicious fruit and feed it to the animals, but also to do pointless Google searches like “largest watermelon ever”. (FYI, the Guinness Book of Records says 159kg / 350.5lbs. That could feed the entire pet zoo!!)
Watermelon growing season is just finishing up here. We used to pick them from the fields and smash them on the ground for the animals to eat. They love them! The poultry eat the fruit down the peel, which dries out and is then fed to the compost heap. The rabbits and guinea pigs eat them with rind and all. Yum! Especially in this godawful heat, it is a great way for them to cool off and stay hydrated.
I even have a designated “watermelon smasher”! My neighbours’ 16 year old son, who has Williams’ syndrome, often comes by in the holidays, to see what we are doing. He may not be much practical help, but he is very entertaining company and he loves smashing watermelons for the animals. I save them especially for him. Sadly, the watermelons have all been harvested now, so Itai is out of a job for now, until we can find something else for him to smash. 🙂
OK. I must admit to the extent of my pointless Googling of watermelons. Not only do I know how much the largest watermelon ever weighed, but I have learned many more Fun Facts about watermelon. One is that watermelons are actually surprisingly healthy. Yes, they are 91% water, but the other 9% is full of concentrated good stuff! They contain more lycopene, a powerful anti-oxidant, than tomatoes do. Lycopene is also responsible for the red colouring, by the way. And did you know that the rind of a watermelon is also perfectly edible? (Those rabbits got it right!) And that it’s full of a good amino-acid called citrulline, which is beneficial for heart health and immune system? I didn’t!
About the shape of watermelons. We have all seen those pictures of cube-shaped watermelons from Japan. Now, let me put your mind at rest: They are not genetically manipulated. They are simply grown inside a square container, so the fruit assumes the shape of the box they are grown in. Square watermelons were originally developed for practical reasons: they are stackable and are easier to cut. Japan being Japan though, they did not stop there. If you can grow a watermelon inside a square box, well, then you can also grown one inside a triangular box. Or a heart-shaped one. So, this is the result:
Apparently, these shaped watermelons are a popular trend now in Japan and people pay lots of money to have this novelty on their tables. New shapes are constantly being invented. The sky is the limit! In fact – why stop at watermelons? Surely any fruit and vegetable can be shaped? Let’s have a look!
(Pictures from http://www.buzzfeed.com.)
Oh, yes. It looks like this is indeed very well possible! Who knew that you can even buy special ‘fruit growing molds’? So you can grown your very own star-shaped cucumbers or Buddha-shaped pears? I would try it if I could manage to grow anything at all! (My own cucumbers and tomatoes are all succumbing to several pests and diseases, it seems.)
Growing shaped watermelons is not to be confused with watermelon carving. This is a century-old art which is mainly practiced in Thailand and China. Absolutely breathtaking things are made out of this fairly boring-looking fruit, such as:
(Pictures from http://www.stylisheve.com)
OK, seriously. These people are exceptional artists. They should have their own galleries. Maybe they do, I don’t know. And obviously, this is not limited to only watermelons – any fruit and vegetable can be carved. Incredible!!
I think I will stick to eating it! The normal, boring round ones!
Happy World Watermelon Day to all! 🙂 ❤