Saturday, May 7, 2011
Watermelons are members of the same botanical family as other melons (Cucurbitaceae), but are more closely related to plants like cucumbers than they are to cantaloupes or honeydews. If you think of a melon, or of their close relative the squash, the fruit surrounds a hollow core filled with seeds. Watermelons and cucumbers, however, are not hollow, and the seeds are carried in the flesh of the fruit. Watermelons and cucumbers also share the characteristic of being composed primarily of water - in the case of the aptly-named watermelon the percentage is 92% by weight. The preponderance of what remains is sugar (6% by weight). Watermelon is a good source of vitamin C, and has high levels of beta-carotene, and in red varieties lycopenes.
Uruana, in the state of Goiás.
Most of Brazil's watermelons grown in Brazil are commercialized in the domestic market, though there is an export market to other countries further south in South America, such as Argentina and Chile, where climate conditions are less favorable to watermelon cultivation. Most watermelons are eaten fresh, though watermelon juice is popular in the thousands of juice bars that populate Brazilian urban centers.
In the past few years, the newest generation of Brazilian chefs has begun to pay attention to the culinary potential of the watermelon. Flavors of Brazil will post some of their recipes in the next few posts.