While under home quarantine, you find yourself feeling bored and hungry. To alleviate your hunger, you decide to venture into the kitchen. As you open the refrigerator, your eyes are immediately drawn to a large, fresh watermelon. It seems to be calling out to you, begging to be eaten. Succumbing to its temptation, you grab a knife and slice the watermelon into juicy chunks, devouring them with great speed.
But wait, there’s something missing! Something that can enhance the sweetness of the watermelon even further – salt! Yes, you read it correctly, salt! You may be wondering how salt can make a watermelon sweeter. Let’s delve into that together. Have you ever visited the South? If you’ve spent a summer there, you may have encountered the tradition of sprinkling salt on watermelon. While some people, especially those unaccustomed to it, prefer to enjoy their melons plain, there’s an undeniable appeal to the combination of watermelon and salt.
I personally grew up in Southeast Asia and can relate to this practice. In fact, we often add a touch of Tabasco pepper or even sugar cane vinegar with Tabasco pepper to our watermelon. It may sound unusual, but it’s only until you taste it that you realize its unique and delightful flavor. Essentially, when you add something savory to something sweet, it awakens your taste buds and enhances the sweetness. A pinch of salt can intensify the watermelon’s inherent sweetness and create a delightful explosion of flavors on your palate.
Let’s explore more about the watermelon and salt combination. According to Wikipedia, the watermelon is a flowering plant that originated in West Africa and can also be found growing in the wild. Citrullus colocynthis is believed to be a wild ancestor of the watermelon, with its native range extending from North and West Africa to West India. While some may perceive salt as a laboratory or factory-made condiment used solely in the kitchen, Wikipedia explains that salt is processed from salt mines and through the evaporation of seawater (known as sea salt) and mineral-rich spring water in shallow pools. Salt has various industrial applications, including the production of caustic soda, chlorine, polyvinyl chloride, plastics, paper pulp, and many other products. Of the approximately two hundred million tonnes of salt produced globally each year, only about 6% is used for human consumption. Salt also finds use in water conditioning processes, de-icing highways, and agriculture.
What are the health benefits of eating watermelon? According to Health Line, here are the top nine health benefits of consuming watermelon:
- Hydration: Watermelon helps keep you hydrated due to its high water content.
- Nutrients and Beneficial Plant Compounds: Watermelon is packed with various vitamins and minerals, such as Vitamin C, Vitamin A, potassium, magnesium, and vitamins B1, B5, and B6. It also contains important antioxidants like Vitamin C, carotenoids, lycopene, and cucurbitacin E.
- Potential Cancer Prevention: The compounds present in watermelon may help prevent certain types of cancer.
- Improved Heart Health: Watermelon consumption is associated with benefits for heart health, such as lowering blood pressure and reducing cholesterol levels.
- Reduced Inflammation and Oxidative Stress: Watermelon’s antioxidants help combat inflammation and oxidative stress in the body.
- Macular Degeneration Prevention: The nutrients found in watermelon can aid in the prevention of age-related macular degeneration.
- Relief from Muscle Soreness: Watermelon may help alleviate muscle soreness after intense exercise due to its high citrulline content.
- Skin and Hair Benefits: The vitamins and antioxidants in watermelon contribute to healthy skin and hair.
- Improved Digestion: Watermelon contains fiber, which aids in digestion and promotes regular bowel movements.
Now, how do you prepare this simple watermelon and salt combo? In an article shared by the Post and Courier, a story from 1910 offers a response to a local’s inquiry on the best way to prepare watermelon:
“Cut the ripe, pink flesh from a good-sized watermelon, put it into a freezing can, and pack it with salt and ice. Slowly turn the crank until the watermelon is half-frozen. Serve the semi-frozen watermelon in punch bowl glasses at the end of a meal. If desired, those who enjoy wine can add a tablespoon of sherry to each glass.”
As food culture evolves, there’s no harm in reinventing traditional practices. Why not give the watermelon and salt combination a try and judge for yourself if it tantalizes your taste buds? Feel free to share this delightful discovery with your friends and family.