The most interesting about watermelons

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Sweet watermelons, grown in abundance around the world, in Latin call Citrullus lanatus. This large, forming lashes up to 3 meters long belong to the pumpkin family. The closest wild related species are still found today in southern Africa, and the history of watermelons, as a cultivated plant, has been around for more than one thousand years.

The features common to all varieties of watermelons are the presence of long, powerful lashes covered with pubescent pinnate-lobed leaves with a noticeable bluish tinge. For fixing on the horizontal and vertical surfaces watermelons use antennae, coarsening and drying in the process of development of the plant.

Pale yellow single flowers are located in the leaf axils. When pollination occurs, a large fruit forms at the site of the flower. It is because of this false berry with a hard surface layer and a juicy pith that the watermelon is grown. In the early stages of development, fruits, like stems and foliage, are covered with stiff hairs, which disappear as they grow and are considered one of the signs of ripeness of watermelon.

A ripe, round and oblong, with a diameter of up to 60 cm, watermelons have:

  • smooth hard peel, usually with a dark green or striped color, but there is a peel of white, yellow, marble and spotted color;
  • juicy, sweet pulp of pink, dark red, orange, yellow or white shade with numerous brown or dark brown seeds.

Watermelons are thermophilic and grow comfortably only at temperatures not lower than 20–25 ° C.

At the same time, for many decades, selection work has been carried out to obtain varieties, both drought-resistant and possessing good resistance to diseases, and differing in early ripening periods.

Therefore, the northern boundaries of cultivation over the past hundred years have seriously shifted. More and more people know about watermelons not only by hearsay, but also regularly eat sweet berries. And on the beds there were fruits ripening already 65–75 days after the first shoots appeared.

The origins and history of watermelonsIt was in these countries that the largest number of genetic forms of watermelons were revealed, giving fruit with bitter, sweet and slightly sweet flesh.

In ancient times, the wild ancestors of modern watermelons were practically the only source of moisture for animals, for local tribes, and for travelers in the desert.

It was then that the history of watermelon began as a culture used in food. If bitter, high-glycoside-free plants were ignored, more edible varieties came to northern Africa 4,000 years ago and were of interest to the peoples inhabiting the Nile Valley. Hence the culture, as the history of the watermelon says, spread to the Mediterranean, to the Middle East, and further down to India and China.

Read also: How to plant strawberries?

The British Encyclopedia tells about the cultivation of watermelons in Egypt during the early kingdom. It also mentions the presence of frescoes, which tells about the collection of these recognizable fruits on the banks of the Nile.

The seeds of a watermelon or its distant ancestor are found in the tombs of the pharaohs of the XII dynasty.

There is written evidence of the cultivation of a variety of wild watermelon in India in the VII century AD.Even today, the small fruits of Citrullus lanatus, varieties of fistulosus in India are used as a vegetable.

In the 10th century, watermelons hit China, a country that today is the main supplier of this type of melon to the world market. And on the territory of Europe, or rather on the Iberian Peninsula, watermelons came with Moorish warriors.

In the X – XII centuries, the plant is cultivated in Cordoba and Seville, from which, according to medieval history, watermelons fall into other parts of the continent. But due to climatic restrictions to obtain stable yields somewhere, except in the south of Europe, did not work, and watermelons were used as exotic plants in gardens and greenhouses.

It is interesting that the gourd culture very quickly acclimatized on the shores of the New World, where watermelons fell in two ways at once: with European colonists and slaves brought from the African continent.

It is reliably known that the history of watermelons in America began in 1576.In this distant summer in Florida, watermelons planted by Spanish settlers were already bearing fruit.

A little later, plantations of melons and gourds appeared on the territory of South America. Watermelons were enjoyed by the Indian tribes of the Mississippi Valley, as well as by the local population of the Pacific Islands, including Hawaii.

On the territory of Russia, watermelons were imported, apparently along the Great Silk Road, but because of the complexity of the climate, until the middle of the last century, culture was spread only in the southern regions, for example, in Little Russia, the Kuban and in the steppe regions of the Volga region. Learn about the history of watermelons, everything will not work, so much time the plant lives next door to a person. Today, even the roots of a cultural species grown in many regions of Russia on country beds are not known for certain.

But this does not prevent people from working on improving the plant and obtaining new varieties. At the moment in the world there are several hundred varieties and hybrids of cultivated watermelons. Thanks to this and the development of greenhouse technologies, it has become possible to grow sweet fruit even where people have never heard of a giant berry before.

In this case, breeders are no longer limited to the breeding of new varieties with traditionally green bark and scarlet pulp.

In the beds ripen watermelons, in which under the white, black, spotty or yellow peel hides not only red or pink, but also white and yellow flesh.

And for the most sophisticated gourmet farmers in the Japanese province of Zenzuji, putting the ovary in a special case, have mastered the cultivation of first cubic, and now curly watermelons.

Read also: What diseases haunt our favorite watermelons?

The chemical composition of watermelon

What makes people all over the world love watermelons? The most obvious answer is the sweet, refreshing taste of ripe fruit. But what is the full energy and chemical composition of watermelons, and in which substances can have a beneficial effect on human health?

100 grams of fresh scarlet watermelon pulp contains:

  • 0.61 grams of proteins;
  • 0.15 grams of fat;
  • 7.55 grams of carbohydrates, 6.2 grams of which are sugar;
  • 0.4 grams of dietary fiber;
  • 91.45 grams of water.

With this composition, the caloric content of watermelon does not exceed 30 kcal, but the benefits of eating fruits do not end there. A 100-gram slice has a mass of vitamins, including 10% of the daily intake of ascorbic acid, as well as at least 4% of the amount of beta-carotene needed by a person, vitamin B1, B2 and B3, B5 and B6, choline and essential micro- and microelements. These are calcium, magnesium and iron, potassium and phosphorus, manganese, sodium and zinc.

An important place in the chemical composition of the pulp is lycopene, which in 100 grams contains up to 4530 micrograms. And in the crust of watermelon there is such a valuable amino acid as citrulline.

How long to keep a watermelon?

In order to maximize the benefits of watermelon, you should eat ripe fruits grown in compliance with agricultural practices. And as far as storage, watermelons also lose some vitamins, moisture and sugar. This means that the question of how long to store a watermelon is of paramount importance. The answer to it depends on the variety and method of storage.

If the pulp of Spark or Krimson Sweet watermelon loses its juiciness and becomes grainy a couple of weeks after being removed from the stick, the juicy fresh fruits of the Chillie variety, which are stored for up to 5 months, can be a pleasant surprise on the New Year's table.

At room temperature, away from heating devices, sunlight and moisture, watermelon should not be stored for as long as one month. Under conditions of a ventilated cool basement or cellar, whole watermelons, on average, remain tasty for 2 to 4 months.

  • If you want to save watermelon longer, the pulp or juice can be frozen.
  • Slices of watermelon dried, getting a kind of chips. Natural chewing candies are made from dried juice.
  • As well as watermelon pickled, salted and pickled, make their juice and pieces of fruit jam, jam and candied flavored.

When using these methods, the shelf life of a watermelon is extended to one year. But cut watermelon can not be stored for a long time. Even in the fridge for a day, pathogenic flora develops in the wet, wet pulp, and bacteria that lead to fermentation settle. In the heat, this process begins in a couple of hours.

Signs of ripe watermelon

To be able to recognize a ripe watermelon ready to eat, it is important not only to the buyer at the counter, but also to the summer resident who has received a rich harvest. From the correctness of the choice depends on how long the watermelon is stored, and what useful substances have accumulated in its pulp. Without cutting the fruit, you can determine the ripeness by the appearance of the watermelon and the whip on which it is located.

Read also: There are several useful properties and contraindications to the use of goji berries

There are several signs of ripe watermelon:

  1. The crust of ripe watermelon has a hard smooth surface, it is difficult to damage with a nail, which only a scratch on the peel. If green bark is matte, then a ripe watermelon is as if covered with a waxy coating.
  2. The spot located on the lower surface in contact with the ground should have a warm yellowish tint. If the watermelon is ripe on the spot there are no stripes or another pattern, the bark is dense, dry and without damage. It is believed that the brighter and richer the color of the spot, the sweeter and more ripe the fruit.
  3. A sign of a ripe watermelon can be a dry stalk and tendril, formed near the sinus, from which the fruit stem leaves.
  4. It will not be superfluous to knock on the bark of a watermelon. The ripe fruit will respond with a deep booming sound. As well as mature, ready-to-harvest fruits float when submerged in water.

Norm of nitrates in watermelon

Like other plants, watermelons are able to accumulate not only useful substances, but also compounds that adversely affect human health. It is known that the rate of nitrates in watermelon can be seriously exceeded if during the growth period of a watermelon a plant:

  • experienced a lack of heat, which was expressed in slowing down the development process;
  • received an excess amount of nitrogen fertilizer;
  • has been exposed to pesticides, leading to the accumulation of harmful substances;
  • suffered from a lack of moisture in the soil and air;
  • was deficient in the soil molybdenum, sulfur, cobalt or potassium;
  • was in the soil with high acidity or salt content.

The maximum allowable rate of nitrates in watermelon is 60 mg / kg. And here it is important to remember that the greatest amount of harmful substances is concentrated closer to the surface, and especially in the crust.

For an adult, the permissible amount of nitrates ingested is determined at the rate of 5 mg per kilogram of weight. The limiting amount of nitrite is even smaller and should not exceed 0.2 mg per kilogram of human body weight.

When the nitrate in watermelon is exceeded, these substances in humans cause metabolic disturbances, and if excessive amounts of these dangerous compounds are regularly ingested, it is possible that cancers, cyanosis, severe damage to the nervous system and digestion, and heart and vascular pathologies develop. Extremely negative nitrates and nitrites affect the development of the fetus during pregnancy.

In order to know everything about watermelon intended for food, and to be confident in its safety, it is important to adhere to the rules of agrotechnics when growing and use means of rapid analysis.

How to choose a sweet and ripe watermelon - video

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