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Archive for September 1st, 2010

This article in the Washington Post (By Jane Black Washington Post Staff Writer) answers a question I’ve had all summer…What happened to watermelons with seeds? I have had discussions with people about this. 🙂  I don’t like the seedless variety.  They are not as sweet!  Oh! Why do people have to mess with something so good? 

I have not printed the whole article, just a few snippets.

The iconic, black-studded watermelon wedge appears destined to become a slice of vanished Americana. If that sounds alarmist, try to remember the last time you had to spit out a grape seed.

Still, as the end of summer looms, I can’t help but mourn the inevitable disappearance of the black-dotted red watermelon. In part, it is a wistfulness for a classic American fruit and its traditions. Without seeds, there can be no seed-spitting contests such as the one in Luling, Tex., home to an iconic watermelon water tower, or the one in Pardeeville, Wis., where the rules are strictly enforced: No professional tobacco spitters. Denture wearers must abide by the judge’s decision if their teeth go farther than the seed.

Though there is some debate about it, the flavor of old-time watermelons might also be in jeopardy. And what a flavor to lose! In “Pudd’nhead Wilson,” Mark Twain described the true Southern watermelon as “a boon apart . . . when one has tasted it, he knows what the angels eat.” Convenience, whether it’s a smaller size, a fruit without seeds or year-round availability, always seems to extract a price. And if that sounds alarmist, try to remember the last great tomato you bought at a supermarket.

I see the trend at local grocery stores. I haven’t found any seeded melons at my local Safeway this summer or at the nearby Whole Foods Market, though a staff member there told me that they sometimes carry organic watermelons with seeds.

The most reliable place to find old-school watermelons is the farmers market. That is not because of any bias in favor of old-fashioned varieties. It’s because seedless watermelons are more difficult and expensive to grow. Their seeds are most successful when germinated in a greenhouse rather than outdoors, and farmers must buy hybrid seeds for the pollinator plants. More than half of the watermelons grown at Montross, Va.-based Garner Produce, a regular at Washington markets, are seeded. At Spring Valley Farm and Orchard in Morgan, W.Va., 60 percent of the melons have seeds. “It’s easier,” said Joe Heischman, a co-manager of the farm. “But I think the seeded ones also taste better. When we put out samples of both, people always say the seeded ones are sweeter.”

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