Watermelon inside a watermelon

Is it safe to eat cut watermelon that has mold on the top half that has been in the fridge?

I majored in medical microbiology and spent 7 years working in the field. This background means that I don’t immediately get hyper when my once-a-week grocery food starts looking less than perfect: Bad spots developing on tomatoes, for instance, are a constant problem this year. Fruits, veggies, breads and dairy products that start to mold or deteriorate are a common problem for anyone that doesn’t eat all of their take-home food promptly. Although you can’t see them, mold spores, like bacteria, are everywhere. Those spores floating around in the air eventually settle on everything, including edibles. Most of them are not dangerous. Molds are tough little organisms, able to survive cold, heat, and drought. Given enough time and moisture, mold will start to grow on almost any food substance.

Not everyone has the income to be able to throw away and replace food with some mold spots. Hence the many questions on Quora whether it’s safe to eat different products that show signs of mold. The general answer is yes. Please see my detailed answer about using up the non-molded portions of veggies. Will I suffer any effects from eating a cucumber that had a few white mold spots on it, and a semi sudsy/bubbly coating (it was wrapped in food grade plastic wrap from the store and had been in the fridge for a couple of days)?

Always cut off or spoon off or otherwise dispose of the mold and the area immediately around it. This is more for esthetics than safety and to prevent you from accidentally eating the mold. Once your knife, spoon or whatever you used has contacted the mold, don’t let it contact any other area of the food in question or you will spread the mold spores. Use multiple spoons or knives if necessary. Then taste a small portion of the remaining food to see if it seems “off” in any way in regards to taste, texture and smell. If anything seems off, throw it out. Although you might not see any mold, the by-products of mold growth can change the composition of the remaining food to make it taste bad. If the produce (including bread and diary) passes the taste/texture/smell test, it’s most likely safe to eat.

Big caveat: Don’t use this on technique on moldy meat (unless you’ve deliberately acquired aged meat as a delicacy). Once you’ve kept meat long enough to start growing mold, it’s far beyond its useful life as an edible.

Watermelon Hollow Heart: What To Do For Hollow Watermelons

Slicing into a watermelon picked fresh from the vine is like opening a present on Christmas morning. You just know there’s going to be something amazing inside and you’re eager to get to it, but what if your watermelon is hollow inside? This condition, known as watermelon hollow heart, strikes all members of the cucurbit family, but a cucumber missing the center of its fruit is somehow less disappointing than when hollow heart in watermelons appears.

Why is My Watermelon Hollow?

Your watermelon is hollow inside. Why, you ask? It’s a good question, and one that’s not exactly easy to answer. Agricultural scientists once believed that hollow heart was caused by irregular growth during key parts of the fruit’s development, but that theory is losing favor among today’s scientists. Instead, they believe that a lack of seed initiation is the cause of hollow watermelons and other cucurbits.

What does this mean for growers? Well, it means that your growing watermelons may not be getting properly pollinated or that seeds are dying during development. Since hollow heart is a common problem of early cucurbit crops and in seedless watermelons in particular, it stands to reason that conditions may simply not be right in the early season for good pollination.

When it’s too wet or too cold, pollination doesn’t work correctly and pollinators may be scarce. In the case of seedless watermelons, many patches don’t contain enough pollinating vines that set flowers at the same time as the fruiting plants, and a lack of viable pollen is the end result. Fruits will initiate when only a portion of the seeds are fertilized, but this usually results in empty cavities where seeds from unfertilized parts of the ovary would normally develop.

If your plants seem to be getting plenty of pollen and the pollinators are very active in your patch, the problem may be nutritional. Plants require boron to establish and maintain healthy seeds; a lack of this trace mineral may cause spontaneous abortion of these developing structures. A comprehensive soil test from your local university extension can tell you how much boron is in your soil and if more is needed.

Since watermelon hollow heart isn’t a disease, but rather a failure in the seed production process of your watermelons, the fruits are perfectly safe to eat. The lack of a center may make them hard to market though, and obviously if you save seeds, this can be a real problem. If you have hollow heart year after year early in the season but it clears up on its own, you may be able to correct the situation by hand-pollinating your flowers. If the problem is consistent and lasts all season, try adding boron to the soil even if a testing facility is unavailable.

The false watermelon fact you always thought was true

Watermelons that were further from their pollinizers had a higher likelihood of hollow heart, and bad weather early in the growing season only increased that risk. “It occurs in poor weather conditions, and oftentimes in the early watermelons,” Johnson said. “That’s because we’re more likely to have cold nights or stormy conditions, particularly cold nights, where those early flowers are the most affected.” With inadequate pollination, he explained, “there is reduced release of the plant hormone that controls the development of storage tissue leading to hollow heart.” And since there isn’t a quick fix for hollow heart disorder, like pesticides or fertilizers, chances are good that you’ll cut into a watermelon with hollow heart at some point during the year, especially in those early season melons.

Bottom line? Watermelons with hollow heart might not make for the prettiest slices, and you might not get the ideal Instagram-worthy shot out of one, but according to Gardening Know How, they’re perfectly safe to eat. That’s because hollow heart isn’t actually a disease of the fruit, but a “failure in the seed production process,” and it’s actually this failure (and the concentration of sugar it causes) that, some say, make the flesh even sweeter. Almost makes you hope for a watermelon with hollow heart now, doesn’t it?

Are Yellow Watermelons Natural: Why Watermelon Is Yellow Inside

Most of us are familiar with the popular fruit, watermelon. The bright red flesh and black seeds make for some sweet, juicy eating and fun seed spitting. But are yellow watermelons natural? With over 1,200 varieties of watermelon on the market today, from seedless to pink to black rinded, it should be no surprise that, yes, even yellow fleshed types are available.

Are Yellow Watermelons Natural?

Yellow flesh on your watermelon might come as quite a surprise since the exterior doesn’t look any different than the red variety. The flesh of watermelons turning yellow is a natural mutation. In fact, the originator of our commercial variety, which comes from Africa, is a yellow- to white-fleshed fruit. The fruit has a sweeter, honey-like flavor as compared to red-fleshed melons, but many of the same nutritional benefits. Yellow watermelon fruit is now widely available and a fun alternative to traditional watermelons.

Produce shopping is more fun than ever when purple kale, orange cauliflower and blue potatoes frequent the produce aisle. Many of these foods have

been manipulated and bred to produce their outrageous colors but yellow watermelon fruit is different. There are many naturally occurring hues of melons.

These plants hybridize easily with each other and produce some unique forms and colors, with a wide range of flavors and sizes. A large field of melons may find that some watermelon is yellow inside, while other plants are producing red fruits. Once discovered, someone is going to maximize on the difference, collect seed and, voila, a new hued melon is born.

How to Grow Yellow Watermelons

So you are now sold and want to try a crop of your own? Yellow watermelon seeds are available from reputable seed merchants. Their growing conditions are the same as a red melon and there are several varieties from which to choose. Some varieties to opt for might be:

  • Yellow Crimson
  • Desert King Yellow
  • Yellow Doll
  • Buttercup
  • Yellow Flesh Black Diamond
  • Tastigold

The original fruits, Citrullus lanatus, have become a botanist’s playground, with the flavor and flesh the primary characteristics, while size and rind color may be manipulated. If your watermelon is yellow inside, chances are it is a derivative of the parent and has been carefully bred to enhance certain other traits.

Watermelon is a hot season fruit that requires well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter in full sun. Yellow watermelons need consistent moisture until fruit is the size of a tennis ball. Thereafter, water when soil is dry several inches down. A week before the fruit is ripe, withhold water to intensify the sugar in the flesh.

These plants need plenty of room to spread. Space 60 inches apart and avoid overhead watering, which can cause foliar diseases. Harvest your yellow melons when the rind becomes dull green and a good rap on the fruit results in a dull thud. Store melons for up to 3 weeks in a cool area.

Now that you know how to grow yellow watermelons, enjoy their golden fruits as a fun surprise to spring on friends and family.

Before you write off the humble watermelon, take another look. Give it a good long study, maybe a sniff and keep in mind that this fruit has been titillating eaters all over the world for centuries. Now that you have it down, read on for 10 fun facts you should know about the good ol’ Citrullus lanatus.

  1. Watermelon comes from Africa.
    Though we think of watermelon as mainly an American food item, especially in the Southern states, the fruit actually hails from Africa, namely Egypt. Scientists have found evidence of the watermelon in this country not only from seeds discovered in tombs, but also depicted in hieroglyphics dating back to the 2nd millennium B.C. The ancient Egyptians are thought to have cultivated this melon from a wild strain that grew in the area. Over time, the watermelon spread to the Mediterranean and Europe before landing in America. This migration is believed to have come due to the slave trade, which is why the fruit is such a staple in Southern cuisine. Now, even though watermelon is grown in 44 states, the U.S. is only the fifth-largest producer. Today much of the watermelon we eat gets harvested in China.

  1. It’s a berry.
    That’s right: Even though watermelon belongs to the fruit category, it’s technically a form of berry called a pepo. A pepo comes from the family Cucurbitaceae, a variety that has a hard outer rind as opposed to the soft, easy-to-chew one found on a blueberry.
  1. Most watermelons you buy are hybrids.
    Right now approximately 300 types of watermelon exist, though only about 50 are eaten regularly. Some examples are the small and sweet Sugar Baby, a variety of icebox watermelon developed in 1955; the Little Baby Flower, one of the smallest types, capping at four pounds; the giant Jubilee, which can grow up to 45 pounds; and the Crimson Sweet, a cross between the Charleston Gray, Miles and Peacock varietals.
  1. Cook this fruit.
    Don’t just eat watermelon raw — give it a good blast of heat to really bring out the flavors. “A lot of times when food is cold, the flavors are very restricted,” says Travis McShane, chef and partner at Adele’s in Nashville. “By lightly grilling an ingredient, you open up some of those natural flavors. Also, by grilling melon you bridge the gap of savory and sweet.” Plus, it tastes darn good as those sugars caramelize and seal the moisture in. At the restaurant, McShane serves grilled watermelon topped with marinated lamb and a Meyer lemon–castelvetrano olive tapenade. You can also cut up the cooked fruit and make a savory-sweet feta and olive salad or add it to kebabs for a refreshing twist.

Watermelon and pork tacos make a perfect summer meal! (Photo: Cookbookman on Flickr.)

  1. There actually is a lot of water in the watermelon.
    “Watermelon is 92 percent water, so it is a great way to help meet your fluid needs while enjoying a sweet treat,” says Elizabeth Somer, author of Eat Your Way to Happiness. That’s right, honest to goodness real water.
  1. Not all watermelons are red.
    While everyone recognizes the lush red inside the average watermelon, some of these fruits are a golden yellow-orange or pale green. There’s the supersweet and tender Yellow Doll and the Yellow Baby, a Mountain Dew–hued melon on the sweeter side. For an emerald shade you have the Cream of Saskatchewan, a creamy melon that is said to have arrived on the continent with Russian immigrants to Canada. It’s not common by any means — you would be lucky to see one. Then, of course there is the Golden Midget, a watermelon with a yellow rind developed in 1959 by well-known breeders Elwyn Meader and Albert Yeager at the University of New Hampshire.
  1. Giant watermelons exist.
    So far, according to Guinness World Records, the world’s heaviest watermelon weighed nearly 270 pounds. It was grown by Lloyd Bright of Arkadelphia, Arkansas, in 2005.

Seeded or seedless, you’re in for a treat. (Photo: Iqbal Osman on Flickr.)

  1. How seedless watermelon came to be
    For over 50 years the seedless hybrids have remained one of the most popular varieties. Sure, you can’t have a seed-spitting contest with these melons, but you can easily cut one up for a smoothie, feed it to a small child, use it for a quick salsa or simply eat without worrying that you’ll break a tooth on a petrified seed. Based on information provided by the National Watermelon Promotion Board, this sterile watermelon grows because farmers have crossed male pollen holding 22 chromosomes per cell with a female watermelon flower containing 44 chromosomes per cell. “When this seeded fruit matures, the small white seeds inside contain 33 chromosomes, rendering it sterile and incapable of producing seeds,” they wrote. “This is similar to the mule, produced by naturally crossing a horse with a donkey. This process does not involve genetic modification.”

  1. Watermelon water is being touted as an alternative to coconut water.
    As more and more innovations occur in the beverage industry, one notable discovery is that cold-pressed watermelon can yield a water that’s high in electrolytes, nutrients and of course water. Several companies have come to market with a watermelon water that’s being touted as a healthier, less sugary alternative to Gatorade and other thirst-quenching drinks.
  2. This fruit is darn good for you.
    Beyond the water content, this is something you should be eating for a wealth of reasons. “Watermelon is loaded with antioxidant-rich vitamins such as vitamins A and C, minerals such as potassium, phytonutrients, and is almost free of cholesterol, fat and sodium,” says Somer. “It’s also a good source of arginine and citrulline, amino acids that maintain healthy blood vessels.” And for you athletes out there, the Journal of Agricultural Food and Chemistry recommends downing a cup of watermelon juice before you work out to help reduce heart rate and muscle soreness. This is due to L-citrulline, an amino acid that the body converts to the circulation-promoting L-arginine. That extra blood flow means it’s also supposed to help in the bedroom department, and on that note, watermelon proves a great source of lycopene, that antioxidant linked to the prevention of prostate cancer.

This post has been updated from an earlier version.

Crunchy watermelon bite lands family in hospital

Choose your fruit carefully. The Phalkes, a seven member joint family residing in Ghatkopar, were shocked to know that a watermelon landed their entire family in hospital for food poisoning.

Nalini Phalke, one of the six hospitalised said, “I had brought the watermelon from the market. Generally, in summers we eat watermelon after food. We never had any problem. Like any other day, the family sat down to eat watermelon after dinner last night. This morning we all woke up with loose motion and vomiting. We rushed to hospital.” While six were hospitalised, one was given medicines and asked to rest at home. “My sister was discharged. Now I will think twice before eating watermelon,” said Karthik, Nalini’s 14-year-old son.

Dr Nilesh Shinde, the doctor treating the patients said, “We have given the stool for testing. Anything could have lead to food poisoning. May be the knife they used for cutting the watermelon was not washed properly and was infected. Sometimes people use injections to give the watermelon some colour. That can also create problems. However since the food poisoning case came from only one family, we have to wait for the results.” The injected fruits have different taste and that is how one can differentiate it from the normal ones.

Dr S Bhoir, assistant medical officer, Rajawadi hospital said, “We have kept them under observation for 24 hours. Their condition is stable now. People should be very careful while eating fruits. They should avoid the cut fruits. At home, they should ensure fruits are not cut and kept open for a long time. The fruits and knife used for cutting should be washed properly.”

Agreeing with Dr Bhoir, Dr Pratit Samdhani, consulting physician, Jaslok Hospital said, “ It is impossible to predict food poisoning happening because of fruits, unless it has happened in one family. Salads and fruits always look to be a healthy option but people should be very careful while having them. Only freshly cut and properly washed fruits and salads should be eaten. In this particular case, may be the watermelon got infected when the vendor must have cut the melon to show its red colour.”

Watermelon is a great snack to enjoy on a hot summer day. Unfortunately, it’s easy to get carried away and buy way more than we can use before it goes bad.

We’re super excited and buy a big one. We get home, cut it into slices, and only then it hits us that it’s way too much. Now we’re nervous and start wondering how long does it last. Or if you can freeze some of the leftovers.

If you’ve bought too much watermelon and wonder what happens next, this article is for you. In it, we go through storing the fruit, its shelf life, and going bad. We also touch upon freezing it in case you need to store it for a prolonged period.

Image used under Creative Commons from Steven Depolo

How To Store Watermelon

Like pretty much all fruits, watermelon retains the quality best if you store it whole. Thus, it makes sense to cut it up only right before eating.

When you bring the fruit home, you can store it either in the pantry or in the fridge. Generally, the longer you expect to store it, the cooler the area should be.

If you plan to cut it up the same day you buy it or the next day, it can sit on the counter for that time. If you’re not quite sure when you will eat it, best to put it in the fridge.

Once you cut up the watermelon into slices, you should store the leftovers in the fridge.

If you expect to keep it in the refrigerator for more than a day, wrap it tightly. If it’s a half or a quarter, use plastic or aluminum wrap. For smaller pieces, you can use airtight containers or resealable bags instead.

Info

Wrapping protects the flesh from drying and picking up strong odors from the fridge. Watermelon pieces are always sold in plastic wrap for this exact reason.

(credit: Elena Koycheva)

Can You Freeze Watermelon

If you have more watermelon than you can handle, you can freeze the leftovers.

Freezing and thawing alters the texture of the fruit. Because of that, eating it raw after thawing won’t be as pleasurable as eating it fresh. However, it works really well in smoothies and other applications where the texture isn’t that important.

To freeze watermelon, start with cutting it into fairly small pieces, so they will easily fit into freezer bags. Now remove all the seeds and skin so the watermelon will be edible right away. Once that’s done, follow my guide to flash freezing.

Once you take the frozen pieces from the freezer, transfer them in freezer bags, add labels if needed, and chuck them back in. The fruit can easily last in there for a few months.

When it comes to defrosting, it’s best to do it in the fridge overnight. If it’s for a smoothie, you can throw it in frozen if your blender can handle ice.

(credit: Joanna Kosinska)

How Long Does Watermelon Last

Like other fruits, watermelon doesn’t last that long. A whole one should keep good quality for about a week in the pantry, and maybe up to 10 days or so in the fridge.

Once you cut it up, the timer starts ticking. The fruit should retain freshness for about 3 to 5 days. The fresher it is, the longer it will last, obviously.

As usual, it’s best to eat all of it right after cutting it open, but it’s not always an option. Please bear in mind that wrapping is super important if you want to keep the leftovers for more than a day in the fridge.

If you would like to store the watermelon for longer than that, freeze it following the guidelines above.

Pantry Fridge
Watermelon, whole 7 days 10 – 14 days
Watermelon, cut up 2 – 5 days

Please note the periods above are estimates and for the best quality.

(credit: Inbal Cohen)

How to Tell If Watermelon is Bad

Let’s start with buying the fruit. Try to pick one that’s bruise-free and feels heavy. If it has some dark spots, that can indicate mold, but that’s only a possibility.

My sister can tell if a wrapped or whole watermelon is good just by sniffing it, but I cannot explain how that works. Unfortunately, I also can’t perform that trick, so I can’t share with you how to do it.

After cutting it open check for any slime or discoloration on the inside. If it’s mushy or doesn’t look very fresh, it is best to discard it. Same thing it has a sour or foul odor.

While these are all telltale signs that it has spoiled, sometimes you can’t always tell by sight, smell, or taste. If the watermelon has gone way past the recommended storage time, throw it out. Even if it still passes all the tests.

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