School’s out and watermelons are in the stores. Those are two sure signs that summer is making its way into Far West Texas. In celebration of the season, I bought our first watermelon since last summer, just the other day.
While the Pecos melons are our favorite, the melons currently available at Fort Davis Porter’s are from Mexico, and usually almost as good as the Pecos melons. It’s so hard to tell what the melon will be like until you get it home and slice into it.
Our trick for picking a watermelon isn’t thumping it and listening for some indication of what the inside will yield, and it’s not looking for the ones with the most yellow on the bottom. We look for the most scraped and scratched looking melon in the bin. The scratches and scrapes are where bees hit the flowers when they were pollinating them, or so a man with a truck full of Pecos melons once told us. He said those scrapes mean that the melons are sweeter than those without. That’s the rule I use when selecting a watermelon now. I never knew what I was listening for when I thumped watermelons, anyway.
I loaded the bags of groceries into the back of the car, and carefully wedged the watermelon between grocery bags. It should’ve been safe for the drive home that had no sharp turns and no speeds above about 28 miles per hour, but alas, the groceries were no match for the heavy melon.
When I opened the rear gate of my sport utility vehicle, I watched as our first watermelon of the year rolled out of the cargo area in slow motion, being drawn down by that ol’ invisible gravitational pull to the ground.
Without thinking, and faster than the slow-motion speed that I watched the melon move, I stuck my foot out to protect and cushion the melon before it hit the ground.
After I got over the surprise of the pain inflicted by the lead weight of the melon in motion, I picked it up and limped inside.
When I told my husband what happened, he said, “What did you think would happen when you drop 50 pounds on your foot?!”
Not that the melon actually weighed 50 pounds, although it felt like it weighed about 100 when it landed on those bones across the top of my foot, left exposed by sandals. I think it was like dropping a bowling ball on a bare foot. I might be exaggerating, but it hurt in an unnatural way, without bones breaking.
I cut open said melon, and the color was lovely and red. It was a little riper than I hoped for, but there’s plenty of things to do with an almost-too-ripe watermelon.
You can toss it in the blender for a few seconds and use it as a base for margaritas that help ease the pain of a banged-up foot, or drink it as a juice. Mix some of the blended watermelon with a little sparkling water for a refreshing drink. Aguas frescas is a sweet treat. Combine it with milk, ice cream or other frozen fruit to make a smoothie. How about a watermelon sorbet?
If ever you see a watermelon falling out of a car, or from anywhere, to the ground, please heed my words… just let it go. Chances are, it’s going to be just fine. Better to bruise the tough melon than the top of your foot.
Easy Watermelon Sorbet
1 cup pure cane sugar
1 cup water
8 cups cubed seedless watermelon
2 tablespoons lemon juice
In a small saucepan, bring sugar and water to a boil. Cook and stir until sugar is dissolved; set aside.
In a blender or food processor, process the watermelon in batches until pureed. Transfer to a large bowl; stir in the sugar syrup and lemon juice.
Pour into a 13-in. x 9-in. dish; cover and freeze for 8 hours or until firm. Scoop and serve.
1-1/4 cups watermelon juice
2-1/2 tablespoons lime juice
5 tablespoons silver tequila (5 T = 2-1/2 ounces)
Sea salt for rimming the glasses
Fill a large blender full of cubed ripe watermelon (with or without seeds) and blend until it’s juice.
In a cocktail shaker, add watermelon juice, lime juice, tequila and a handful of ice and shake to combine, or stir it all together in a pitcher. Sample a small amount, and adjust flavor as needed, adding more watermelon juice for sweetness, lime juice for acidity, or tequila for kick.
Line the rims of two serving glasses with lime juice and sea salt, add ice and pour the watermelon margaritas.
Best when fresh, but leftover watermelon juice will keep covered in the refrigerator up to 3 days.