Is there anything better than sinking your teeth into a crisp, juicy wedge of watermelon on a hot summer day? No barbecue, picnic or beach trip would be complete with this pink summertime staple. But did you know that not all watermelon is pink? The sweet seasonal fruit also comes in a vibrant shade of yellow. But what is yellow watermelon exactly? And what’s the difference between yellow watermelon and its bright pink counterpart?
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Lacking in Lycopene
On the outside, yellow watermelons look exactly the same as pink watermelons with an identical, striped green rind. So what makes the inside colors different? Traditional watermelons get their signature pink hue from lycopene, the same antioxidant that makes tomatoes and grapefruits red. Yellow watermelons, however, don’t contain lycopene, so they never take on a reddish color.
Surprisingly, the cultivation of yellow watermelons came before pink watermelons. First grown in Africa about 5,000 years ago, yellow watermelons went through generations of selective cross-breeding for texture, color and sweetness before any pink variety ever appeared. As the lycopene content of hybrid varieties increased over time, the fruit naturally became redder and redder. Far from the original watermelon in both taste and appearance, the pink watermelon on our picnic blankets today is the perfect product of centuries of cross-breeding.
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What’s the Difference?
Aside from the obvious color difference, there is a slight difference in taste between yellow and pink watermelons. The yellow varieties usually taste a bit sweeter than the pink and have a more honey-like flavor. Both come in seeded and seedless varieties (also a product of natural cross-breeding) and can be used interchangeably in fruit salads, smoothies, desserts and other summertime treats.
Nutritionally, both varieties contain high levels of vitamins A and C. And although yellow watermelons lack lycopene, they make up for it in beta carotene, a powerful antioxidant that protects against cancer.
Yellow Watermelon Varieties
Interested in planting your own yellow watermelon? Learn more about some of the most common varieties:
- Yellow Crimson: Identical to Crimson Sweet (traditional pink watermelon) on the outside, this variety has bright yellow flesh and tastes even sweeter.
- Yellow Doll: This early-maturing melon only weighs about 5 to 7 pounds but tastes very sweet.
- Buttercup Yellow Melon: This seedless, hybrid variety has dense yellow flesh and a very high sugar content.
- Desert King: This variety is orange like cantaloupe but has the crisp texture of watermelon.
- Yellow Petite: Sometimes considered a personal watermelon, Yellow Petites weight just 4 to 7 pounds each and have a high sugar content.
Can’t get enough watermelon in the summertime? Try some of these delicious seasonal recipes!
Have you ever tried yellow watermelon? Let us know in the comments!