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Botanical name: Citrullus lanatus




Melons belong to the vegetables, as they are the fruit of an annual plant. However, we eat them as a fruit and they are often designated as such. The watermelon was originally native to the African steppes; today it is grown in the tropics and subtropics.



Melons are sold throughout the year, but they are in greatest supply during the period from June to September.


Appearance, taste, characteristics

Watermelons are only distantly related to the other melons. They belong to the same family, but they are not the same genus and species. Watermelons are large, round fruits that can weigh up to 20 kg. Their thick, smooth rind is green, sometimes striped. Beneath it lies the cherry-red, in some varieties also yellow, pulp. In contrast to other melons, the seeds are not in the middle of the fruit but are distributed throughout the pulp. Watermelons taste watery-sweet and have no distinct aroma.



Watermelons are characterized, as their name implies, by their high water content. They contain an appreciable amount of the secondary plant substance lycopene (ca. 3.5 mg %), which belongs to the carotenoids and is normally thought of in connection with tomatoes.


100 g contain:


Watermelon, fresh

Energy (kcal)


Water (g)


Protein (g)


Fat (g)


Carbohydrates (g)


Fibre (g)


Vitamin C (mg)


Vitamin A (RE) (µg)


Folic acid (µg)


Potassium (mg)


Sodium (mg)


Calcium (mg)


Magnesium (mg)


Iron (mg)



Quality criteria, optimal storage conditions

Melons do ripen after being harvested, but their sweetness does not increase. Therefore, you should buy ripe fruits.

Knock on the melon with your flat hand; if the sound is hollow, the melon is ripe. A further sign of ripeness is a slight vibration of the melon when it is knocked on. Fruits that are already bruised or show signs of decay should be left in the store; even if the decayed areas are cut out, the healthy-looking pulp often no longer tastes good.

Watermelons must be handled carefully. Their rind may be thick, but it is not very robust. If they are improperly handled the rind may crack.

Cut-open melons are also sold in shops; be sure that these are freshly cut melons. Grainy, swollen-looking pulp is often mealy and flavourless. The cut surfaces in particular are favoured by micro-organisms. Therefore, already-cut melons should be eaten without delay.


Form of consumption, use, processing, practical tips for preparation

Watermelon is highly recommended as a refreshment on hot summer days. Not only in the tropics, but also in Germany it serves as a thirst quencher, thanks to its high water content. It tastes best when it is well-chilled.

To eat it fresh, cut the fruit into segments and remove the seeds. These may also be eaten, however.


For fruit salads or added to fruit punch, the pulp can be cut into pieces, but ball-shaped pieces are nicer looking and can be formed with a special cutter. The melon is an enhancement not only for sweet dishes; it is also excellent with ham, poultry or in savoury salads. In many countries people drink watermelon juice or nectar.

The melon seeds can be eaten roasted, and in some countries they are used to extract oil.






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