Step Outside: Celebrate the Fourth of July the right way

By ALEX DEASON STEP OUTSIDE,

July 4th is already here and many friends and families will celebrate Independence Day in various ways but one common item to celebrate with is a fresh watermelon.

Over the past couple weeks watermelon producers across the state have been preparing to bring the fresh taste of watermelon to Mississippi families.

Every year a few thousand acres of watermelons are planted in Mississippi primarily south of I-20 and east of highway 49.

During harvest these melons are graded and sent to markets such as Wal-Mart, Kroger, farmers markets and some roadside vendors.

Since many of us are not out in the field choosing which melon to take home we must take an extra few seconds to get the right one.

Always look for cuts and bruises that might have happened during travel. Be sure that your melon is heavy, firm and symmetrical.

The riper the melon is the heavier it will get.

Another great way to choose a great watermelon is to look at the spot that was in contact with the ground. As the melon progresses the ground spot will turn from white to a deep yellow or creamy color.

Lastly, don't forget to give it a thump, a ripe melon should produce a light hollow thud.

Even though this is more difficult to tell you are able to distinguish a watermelon that is not ready to eat.

Mississippi State Extension Family and Consumer Science Agent, Ann Twiner, says watermelons are packed with vitamins A, B and C as well as antioxidants and amino acids.

The are low in calories but can be high in sugar so be cautious when debating on serving size.

This could also be why there are thousands of ways to enjoy watermelon.

Watermelon goes well as salads, smoothies, ice creams, grilled, and fruit kebabs so go ahead and purchase another one.

Remember when you pick out your watermelon for Independence Day; thank a farmer and salute our troops.

Have a happy and safe 4th of July.

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