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Sweeten summer with symmetrical watermelons

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Watermelon is a summertime staple, crisp, sweet, juicy and refreshing on a sunny Hawaii day. And a bonus: Most of the watermelon in our markets is grown right here in the islands.

Those big melons at the supermarkets that weigh in at 10 to 20 pounds come from Sugarland Farm in Kunia, the primary source in Hawaii. These watermelons are perfect for those summer picnics at the beach and backyard barbecues where you can just split them open and let the family dig in.

Looking for something smaller? The "icebox" or "Thai" watermelons from Aloun Farm in Kunia are perfect for small families, weighing in at about 5 pounds. This variety is equally sweet and juicy.

Choose watermelons that are symmetrical in shape, whether they are oblong or round. Listen for a hollow thump when you slap the side of a watermelon, a good indication that the melon is ripe. Small white seeds usually mean the fruit is immature, or it could be a "seedless" variety. While some might think those black seeds are a bother, it’s really part of the fun of summer watermelon eating.

Try these ideas:

» Cut and seed chunks of chilled watermelon and puree in a blender for a thirst-quenching drink.

» Cut and seed chunks and place in a salad bowl. Combine with fresh arugula and chunks of feta cheese. Dress with a light oil and vinegar-based dressing and toss together for a delicious salad.

Hawaii food writer Joan Namkoong offers a weekly tidbit on fresh seasonal products, many of them locally grown. Look for "Fresh Tips" every Wednesday in the Star-Advertiser.


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