I am a bonafide watermelon lover and recently bought a nutritious and delicious 25 pounder for two bucks at the produce stand. Aside from the amazing flavor, juiciness and an incredible fragrance, I love that watermelons are rich in potassium, vitamins A and C, and lycopene (a powerful antioxidant thought to help lower the risks of many types of cancer). According to the National Watermelon Promotion Board, this favorite summer fruit has “higher concentrations of lycopene than any other fresh fruit or vegetable. In fact, fresh watermelon contains higher levels of lycopene than fresh tomatoes - a 2-cup serving of watermelon contains and average of 18.16 mg and one medium-sized tomato contains 4 mg.”

My eyes were bigger than my refrigerator, though, so I needed to whittle the massive melon down a bit and decided to make sorbet (ala Cook’s Illustrated, July/August 1995 p. 24-25). I trimmed the rind off of five pounds of sweet smelling pink flesh (not bothering to remove the seeds – they are edible and contain zinc and iron), pureed the chunks in the blender in two batches and drained it into a large bowl through my handy-dandy All-Clad stainless steel strainer (I love it because it's shiny and sits securely on the top of almost any size bowl). Into the juice I stirred 1/2 cup raw sugar and 1/4 cup vodka and ended up with about 90 ounces of liquid.

CI’s watermelon sorbet actually calls for 2.5 pounds of watermelon, 1 cup minus 1T sugar, 2T lemon juice and 1T vodka or Campari, but I’ve tweaked this fabulous recipe with the help of my Aunt Carol’s son Scott who concluded that lowering the sugar and upping the alcohol made a far smoother, tastier sorbet. At the last minute, I decided to forgo the sorbet and instead made watermelon popsicles! To do this, I divided the liquid into 15 eight-ounce paper cups, covered them with plastic wrap and stuck in a popsicle stick.

They were certainly a refreshing way to use part of the fleshy, fragrant fruit. Now, I’m thinking about doing the same with a cantaloupe or another canary melon (which was absolutely luscious, by the way!)  (See Cook's Illustrated p. 25 for a list of alternate sorbet suggestions)

Thank you to the National Watermelon Promotion Board for the nutritional information.  Check them out for more interesting facts, recipes and more:  http://www.watermelon.org/ 

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