Nothing says summertime like watermelon.
Packed with water, watermelon is the perfect fruit to enjoy during hot Mississippi summers. Seeded, seedless, and mini watermelons are seasonally available from June until October in Mississippi. They can be found at farmers markets, corner stands, and grocery stores.
When picking out a watermelon, the Mississippi State University Extension Office suggests picking the heaviest watermelon you can find. Look for the spot where the watermelon was lying on the ground. If it’s white, that means the watermelon isn’t ready. Darker yellow means over-ripe. Creamy yellow or a buttery color means the watermelon is ripe and ready.
To store, keep whole, uncut watermelons at room temperature. A ripe watermelon will lose flavor and texture the longer it sits at room temperature. Cut the watermelon within a week of picking or purchasing.
Wrap large watermelon pieces with the rind tightly in plastic wrap. Keep in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days. Use airtight containers with lids to store smaller pieces. Keep in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days.
Children can help prepare watermelons for eating. After selecting a ripe watermelon, cut open the watermelon. Children can use a plastic knife to cut larger watermelon pieces into fun shapes. If you have small scoops, let them help you make mini watermelon balls for a snack.
Serve this savory watermelon salad as a side dish at cookouts, picnics or even backyard barbecues, for a refreshing and standout dish.
Add thinly sliced jalapeños to pack some extra heat into this dish. If you prefer a more mild onion flavor, place the diced onion in a small bowl with ice water, and let stand for 30 minutes. Then drain before adding to the salad.
This watermelon salad, which serves 12 people, can be made two hours ahead of serving.
1 teaspoon grated lime zest
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 cups 3/4-inch cubes seedless watermelon
1/2 cup diced red onion
1/2 cup diced English (seedless) cucumber
3 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
■ In a large serving bowl, mix lime zest, lime juice and salt with whisk until well blended. Add remaining ingredients except feta cheese. Gently toss to coat. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes or until chilled.
■ Gently stir in feta cheese just before serving.