Magazine article Sunset

Watermelon Weather

Magazine article Sunset

Watermelon Weather

Article excerpt

Time to enjoy the biggest, juiciest fruit of all-the very symbol of summer

It's watermelon weather; that summer kinda weather,

When people get together and sing. ...

For it's the sweetheart kissn' season and all the world's in rhyme

When it's watermelon sweet love tellin' time. Watermelon casts a magical spell on summertime. There's something about a cold slice of the fruit in August that makes you, well, want to sing.

Admittedly, it's the water in watermelon-or, more precisely, its juice-that clinches the fruit's status as the quintessential summer treat. A typical watermelon is 92 percent water. On a hot day, that's a refreshing bite of trivia. An icy glass of watermelon agua fresca or bowl of watermelon-tequila sorbet cools like no other food can.

These days, watermelons are available year-round. In the West, farmers in California, Arizona, and Hawaii harvest the fruit from May through September. And from October through April, melons imported from Mexico, and sometimes Central America or the Caribbean, are available in markets.

But summer is the time when the most varieties and colors fill grocery store bins and farmers' market stalls-and at the lowest prices. Large melons-- round or oblong, from 16 to 45 pounds-are known as "picnic" types. Markets often cut them up to sell in more manageable pieces. Smaller round "icebox" melons, from 5 to 15 pounds, are usually sold whole. Both categories include seedless varieties, as well as round yellow- and orange-fleshed types in the 10- to 30-pound range (see "Color-blind," page 106).

Grilled Watermelon anti Swordfish Skewers

PREP AND COOK TIME: About 50 minutes

NOTES: Thai sweet chili sauce is sold in some well-stocked supermarkets and in Asian food markets. If it's unavailable, increase watermelon juice to 11/2 cups and sugar to 3 tablespoons; add 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger and 1/2 teaspoon hot chili flakes to watermelon juice mixture and reduce to 3/4 cup as directed in step 1.

MAKES: 4 servings

1 cup watermelon juice (see recipe, at right)

1/2 cup Thai sweet chili sauce (see notes)

1/4 cup lime juice

2 tablespoons sugar

About 11/4 pounds seedless watermelon

11/4 pounds boned, skinned swordfish or halibut Salt

1. In a 11/2- to 2-quart pan, bring watermelon juice, chili sauce, lime juice, and sugar to a boil; stir often until reduced to 3/4 cup, about 15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, cut and discard rind from watermelon. Cut fruit into 1-inch cubes.

3. Rinse swordfish and pat dry; cut into 1-inch squares.

4. Thread swordfish and watermelon alternately onto 6 metal skewers (at least 12 in.).

5. Lay skewers on a lightly oiled barbecue grill over a solid bed of very hot coals or a gas grill on high heat (you can hold your hand at grill level only 1 to 2 seconds); close lid on gas grill. Brush frequently with watermelon juice mixture and turn as needed to cook evenly until fish is opaque but still moist-looking in center (cut to test), about 8 minutes.

6. Push watermelon and swordfish chunks from skewers onto plates. Add salt to taste.

Per serving: 276 cal., 21% (58 cal.) from fat; 29 g protein; 6.4 g fat (1.6 g sat.); 26 g carbo (0.9 g fiber); 213 mg sodium; 55 mg chol.

Watermelon juice

PREP TIME: About 12 minutes

NOTES: If making up to 1 day ahead, cover and chill.

MAKES: 4 to 6 Cups

Cut and discard rind from about G pounds seedless watermelon. Cut melon into 1-inch chunks. In a blender or food processor, whirl a portion at a time until smooth. Pour through a fine strainer into a bowl or pitcher.

Per cup: 76 cal., 12% (9 cal.) from fat; 1.5 g protein; 1 g fat (0 g sat.); 17 g carbo (0.9 g fiber); 4.7 mg sodium; 0 mg chol.

Watermelon agua fresca. In a pitcher, stir together 1 quart watermelon juice (see recipe, page 105), 1/4 cup lime juice, and 1 teaspoon sugar. …

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