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Try these ideas for serving up watermelon
Watermelon3
Watermelon is great by the slice, but it can also be made into salsa, filled with vodka or even pickled.

What's so great about watermelon?

  • Watermelon contains higher levels of lycopene than any other fresh fruit or vegetable.
  • Vitamin A found in watermelon is important for eye health, can help prevent night-blindness and boosts immunity by enhancing the infection-fighting actions of white blood cells called lymphocytes.
  • Vitamin B6 found in watermelon is used by the body to manufacture brain chemicals (neurotransmitters), such as serotonin, melatonin and dopamine, which preliminary research shows may help the body cope with anxiety and panic.
  • Vitamin C in watermelon can help to bolster the immune system's defenses against infections and viruses and can protect a body from harmful free radicals that can accelerate aging and conditions such as cataracts.

National Watermelon Promotion Board

How to add vodka to a watermelon: Watch a video on YouTube describing the process.

A big slice of juicy, pink watermelon is one of summer's treats.

But the next time you pick up one of these melons, don't limit yourself to just slicing and eating it.

Instead try anything from watermelon martinis and vodka-filled watermelons to pickled watermelon rind.

We've listed a few different ways to consume watermelon below, but in case you're a traditionalist, we enlisted the help of the 2009 Georgia Watermelon Queen to offer up ideas, too.

"My favorite way to eat is when you cut it into quarters," said Lindsey Maria Mann, who was recently crowned queen. "You can slice across while it's in the rind and then horizontal and then vertically and it cuts it into little cubes. Then you turn it over and they'll kind of fall out and it's little bite-sized chunks. They are great for kids because they can open the fridge and grab a handful; it makes a great snack."

They are also great in smoothies, she said, "And I know some people that like to grill it, actually."

Watermelon as a tomato substitute

Watermelon is a welcome substitute for tomato in certain recipes because of its high water content and sweetness, according to Mann.

"One of my favorite things to do with it is to make salsa because you've got that sweetness of the watermelon and the spice of peppers and onions," she said.

Jarret Barnes, promotion coordinator adviser for the Georgia Watermelon Association, added that Fire and Ice Salsa is a great way to enjoy watermelon.

"Use seedless watermelon in place of the tomatoes," she said. "The salsa is great as a snack with chips or served on grilled chicken or fish. A sweet, cool, yet hot, variation of the typical salsa recipe."

Pickled watermelon rind

As a nice addition to salads, or just eaten alone, pickled watermelon rind is one of the more unusual ways to enjoy the sweet melon.

Pickled watermelon rind can be found at specialty stores or at markets like Jaemor Farms in Alto.

Stephanie Lewallen, a manager at Jaemor, said the watermelon rind tastes a lot better than it looks.

"It's like eating a sweet pickle because they just cut the white part of the watermelon rind out and it doesn't have the hard part ... then it's cut up into cubes and it has a sweet, vinegary (flavor)."

Watermelon at a party

Adding fresh fruit to a cocktail can add a twist to a drink at any summer party.

But what about creating a vodka-filled watermelon?

It's a popular way to enjoy vodka and watermelon and it just takes a couple of steps to make one of your own, according to AJ McClain, co-owner of AJ's Food Fun & Friends in Gainesville.

"It's pretty easy; you just scoop it out, and you can use a melon baller for that," she said. "Cut a section out on the top, probably a circle about 6 inches - for straws or ladles - then depending on the size of watermelon, add a liter or two of vodka or rum. The longer you let it sit the better it's infused."

McClain added that the vodka or rum should be poured into the melon at room temperature.

"If the liquor is already cold, the flavor doesn't absorb as well," she said.

Michael Huffstatler, a bartender at Monkey Barrel in Gainesville, said to try a watermelon martini for something different.

"You would probably want to get a watermelon liqueur and just mix that with vodka ... and a splash of sour and a splash of Sprite," he said. "Drop a piece of watermelon inside it (the glass)."

Or a watermelon margarita could easily be created, McClain said.

Add 6 ounces of tequila, 3 ounces triple sec or Gran Marnier and 16 ounces of watermelon chunks.

"Throw it in the blender then start adding ice until it's the consistency you want," she said.

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