Eat Local Spotlight: Watermelon

The Wonder of Watermelon


Refreshing Local Treat

Refreshing and oh so sweet, watermelon is a favorite here in Hawaii where our warm climate enables us to enjoy local varieties past the peak of summer.  At Foodland, nearly all our watermelon comes from Sugarland Growers, Inc. a local business owned by a family whose roots in farming and foraging can be traced back to the time of the Pilgrims. Beginning humbly as Akea Farms on Molokai in 1971, the operation expanded to Oahu in 1994 and became “Sugarland,”  a name inspired by the farm’s location on land that had once been devoted to raising sugarcane.

Committed to growing a variety of crops to meet the needs of Hawaii consumers, Sugarland has been farming watermelon since 1979.  Recognizing that watermelon do not continue to ripen once picked, the farm harvests its crop only at peak ripeness to ensure local shoppers receive the most flavorful product.

What else should you know about watermelons? Here are a few facts from the farmers:

Pick of the Crop: A sweet, juicy watermelon will be heavy for its size and will have a creamy yellow spot on its underbelly where it sat and ripened against the ground.  Thumping the watermelon may help you determine whether it is crispy or juicy so you can purchase the type you prefer.  A lighter sound (similar to tapping your forehead) means that the watermelon will have a crispier texture; a deeper, hollow sound (similar to tapping your stomach) means it will be juicier.

The Name Fits:  Watermelon is about 92% water which makes it not only refreshing, but hydrating too.  In fact, eating watermelon is a great way to stay cool on a hot summer day so cut them into wedges, cubes or spears, then chill and pack them in your cooler for a perfectly cool snack.

Edible, Inside and Out: Every part of the watermelon is edible, from the ruby-red flesh to the rind and even seeds. Pickled watermelon rind is a great treat!  Make it the same way you make pickled mango — even adding a bit of li hing mui for an extra zing!

Perfect Fruit . . . Or Veg: Watermelon is a fruit AND a vegetable!  It’s considered a fruit because it contains seeds and grows from flowers pollinated by bees.  But it is also a vegetable because it’s part of the gourd family which includes cucumbers, pumpkin and squash.

Savor the Flavor: Watermelon is best eaten within a few days after bringing it home (you can leave it on the counter if you’re not ready to cut into it right away).  Extra fruit can be frozen in cubes and used in smoothies or as “ice cubes” in fruit drinks. While freezing changes the texture of watermelon’s texture dramatically, the fruit will still be tasty and flavorful.

Add Some Salt:  Salt is a wonderful complement to the sweet, juicy flavor of watermelon.  In fact, salty and savory flavors like feta cheese or olives go great with watermelon — and they combine to make a tasty summer salad.  Be sure to try our recipe for Spiced Watermelon Cubes!

Did You Know?
Watermelon Patch

Watermelon is believed to have originated in the Kalahari Desert of Africa and the first recorded watermelon harvest — depicted in hieroglyphics — took place in Egypt nearly 5000 years ago.  Watermelon appears to have been a favorite even then as it was placed in the burial tombs of Egyptian kings to nourish them in the afterlife..


Spiced Watermelon Cubes

Watch How to Make It

Spiced Watermelon Cubes
Makes 24 Servings

A perfect summer snack! These refreshingly cool, sweet-salty-savory-spicy bites are easy to make and full of flavor.
  • 1 medium Sugarland Farms seedless watermelon
  • 2 tablespoons agave nectar (adjust amount depending on preference of sweetness)
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon lime zest
  • 2 tablespoons Ono Hawaiian Seasoning brand seasoned salt*
  • 3 tablespoons Feta Cheese, crumbled
  • 4 fresh basil leaves, chopped finely
  1. Remove the watermelon rind and discard (or keep for making pickled watermelon rind).
  2. Cut the watermelon flesh into 1-inch cubes. Refrigerate until nicely chilled.
  3. Combine agave nectar, lime juice, and lime zest together. Toss the watermelon cubes in this mixture until all the cubes are evenly coated.
  4. Arrange the watermelon cubes on a serving platter.
  5. Sprinkle watermelon cubes with Ono Hawaiian Seasoning, and crumbled feta cheese, and basil.
  6. Insert a toothpick into the center of each watermelon square and serve immediately or cover refrigerate until needed.

*Ono Hawaiian Seasoning comes in regular and spicy flavors; the spicy version adds a tasty kick to this recipe, but if you prefer a non-spicy version, use the regular seasoning blend.

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