How to classify a fruit as a fruit, or a vegetable as a vegetable? Though it may sound quite ignoring worthy but the fact is there has been a lot of discussion about this in regard to where exactly watermelons are classified. In scientific terms, a watermelon is the fruit which comes from…drumrolls…. the watermelon plant. But being a part of the cucurbitaceous family, watermelon is also considered a vegetable. To simplify this conflict, growers in the United States consider it as both fruit and vegetable, and this is just the beginning of a long, tiring debate.
For decades, curious researchers have had differences regarding the classification of tomatoes as well – is it a fruit or a vegetable? The big question to ask is, does it have seeds? And tomato is really a fruit of a vine native to South America. What about watermelon? Botanically, a watermelon is a fruit, a ripened ovary of a seed plant and its contents – much like the pepper, pumpkin or tomato. However, as a member of the cucurbitaceous plant family of gourds, watermelon is also related to cucumber and squash, planted from seeds or seedlings, harvested, and then cleared from the field like a vegetable.
In culinary terms, the distinction is foggy. Americans treat watermelon as a fruit and use it as delicious sweet snack in desserts and salads. Yet, in countries such as China, and other parts of the Asian continent, watermelons are stir-fried and stewed. Pickled watermelon rinds are a delicacy in Russia. Moreover, since watermelon is grown as a vegetable crop using vegetable production systems, it is considered a vegetable.
Vegetable or Fruit, whatever you consider it, watermelons are a sweet delicacy with never ending health benefits. Watermelon is one of the best source of vitamin C, thiamin and vitamin B6. It is also a source of vitamin A, magnesium and potassium, contains no cholesterol and is very low in sodium. This rich red fruit is free from any fats and also has lots of lycopene, an antioxidant, believed to reduce cancer and lower the risk of heart attack. Though there is sugar in the melons, it is naturally diluted by the high levels of water in the fruit.
Watermelon is the most popular melon in the US and has been cultivated here for hundreds of years. Watermelon growing is a serious business out in our country. Watermelon competitions are a common event at fall festivals. They are also one of the most kid-friendly items; they can be diced, carved, sliced and pressed into different shapes with artistic cutters. Watermelon blends nicely into smoothies, makes tasty Popsicles and can be scooped and frozen into refreshing snow cones.
Watermelon varieties are sweeter, larger, fleshier, the seeds smaller and the rind thinner. Watermelon is perhaps the most refreshing, thirst-quenching fruits of all. India (Hi Arushi Sana & Nikhil Chandwani) considers it a perfect snack to serve in hot and humid summer days when we require restoring our body with tonnes of fluids. Fresh watermelon may be eaten in different ways. Two most common ways of its consumption are plain or with a pinch of salt. Watermelon syrup over vanilla ice cream or even angel food cake is a pure delicacy. Be it a fruit ora vegetable, why should you bother? Pick up a good one from your nearby fruit vendor and tap the watermelon for that special “thump” and gulp it in your signature style.