Originally from Africa and categorized as both a fruit and vegetable, watermelons are hydrating, sweet, and rich in nutrients. A yellow watermelon is basically the same as one of any other color — it just has yellow flesh on the inside instead of the more common pink or red color. The fruit is generally grown in warm regions and, depending on the variety, can be as large as 30 lbs. (13.6 kg) once fully grown. People use the yellow fruit the same way they’d use any other type, although watermelons of this color can be more difficult to find.
Why Is It Yellow?
Watermelons that are pink or red on the inside contain a powerful antioxidant called lycopene, which is perhaps best known for making tomatoes red. Yellow watermelons do not contain this antioxidant, so they don't have the same reddish tint.
Yellow watermelons are known for their extremely sweet taste, which some people say tastes a bit like honey. Not all melons will share this sweetness, however, and the flavor often depends on the conditions in which they were grown. Watermelons grown in poor conditions may not taste as good or as sweet, and those that are picked before they are fully ripe often have a weak flavor.
Like its pink and red cousins, a ripe yellow watermelon should feel firm and have a smooth, blemish-free surface, free of cracks and bruises. The rind will become deeper green as the melon ages, so shoppers may want to choose fruit that appears a little paler. Yellow or white areas on the outside are where the fruit rested on the ground and don’t affect its quality.
Not all shoppers are interested in buying a full-size watermelon, so many sellers offer packaged slices, quarters, or halves. This is most common at grocery stores, which have the ability to keep cut produce cold and slow spoilage. Although melon sold in pieces is usually more expensive, buyers sometimes prefer portions because they can more easily see how fresh and ripe the fruit is.
Types, Size, and Yield
Yellow Flesh Black Diamond, Desert King, Yellow Crimson, Yellow Doll, Buttercup and Tastigold are just some of the varieties of yellow watermelon available. Smaller ones are often called "icebox" melons, because they can usually fit easily in most refrigerators. They typically don’t grow bigger than 5 to 18 lbs. (2.3 to 8.2 kg), half the size or less of a regular watermelon.
Many people enjoy eating yellow watermelon plain, served in slices or chunks, particularly on hot summer days. It can add variety, interest, and color to a meal when served as a side dish or for dessert. Cooks who are a little more adventurous can find ways to use the melon in soups, kabobs, salads and salad dressings, salsa, and cakes. Many people find it to be a great addition to smoothies, cocktails, and other drinks. Although most people toss the rind into the trash, it's just as edible as the flesh, and can be used in relish or pickle recipes.
After it has been picked, an uncut watermelon will keep for up to two weeks in a cool, dry environment. Slicing it reduces its storage time by half, so people usually do not cut one until just before serving it. Once cut, the pieces can be stored in the refrigerator in a sealed container — glass containers usually work best. Plastic bags don't work as well because they tend to sag against the flesh, trapping ethylene gas released by the melon, which causes it to decay. Storing the pieces by themselves usually extends their life, since keeping them with other fruit increases the amount of ethylene they are exposed to.
Yellow watermelon contains vitamin A and C, several B vitamins, potassium, magnesium, iron, calcium, and phosphorous. These nutrients keep the immune system strong and have benefits for the heart. They also fight free radicals that damage cells and cause cancer, although yellow varieties, because they don't contain lycopene, may not provide as much of a benefit as red ones do. Watermelon also contains a lot of water, so it's a good choice for people who are trying to stay hydrated.
A 1 cup (152 g) serving contains about 45 calories. The exact number depends on the variety, however, because some have a higher sugar content than others. Consumers often prefer sweeter watermelons, but they do have more calories. The high amount of sugar is why many diet experts recommend that people who are trying to lose weight limit the amount of watermelon they eat, as should people with diabetes.
Where to Buy and Price
Yellow watermelons are not as common in the United States as red and pink are, especially in northern states where the growing season is shorter. In addition, melons that aren't labeled correctly might confuse a shopper, who could think that the color is an indicator that the fruit is unripe or spoiled. Farmer’s markets are more likely to carry yellow watermelons, but they can be found in some supermarkets, agricultural co-ops, and organic food stores.
Generally, it is no more expensive to buy a yellow watermelon than a pink or red one because they require the same amount of growing space, fertilizer, and time to grow. Seedless varieties tend to be more expensive than seeded ones, however, mainly because they need other plants for pollination. Buying a melon outside of the typical growing season also increases the cost, since the fruit must usually be shipped in or grown in a greenhouse.
Despite the name, watermelon isn't a "true" melon because it doesn't belong to the Cucumis genus. Most people use this term anyway, and watermelon is often included in lists of melon types.
Most people call watermelon a fruit, which is technically accurate because it is the ripened ovary of a seed plant. It's a member of the Citrullus lantus family, however, making it a relative of cucumbers and pumpkins, so some people consider it a vegetable. Growers also use the same types of production systems to grow these melons as they do for vegetables, adding to the debate.
At a minimum, a yellow watermelon plant requires about 1 square yard (0.9 square meters) of well-drained ground space to grow in, although larger varieties need up to double this. The seeds prefer temperatures between 70° and 85°F (21° to 29°C) to sprout, so the fruit is often grown in warmer regions, such as California or Mexico. The growing season in such areas is between May and October, with plants sprouting four to six weeks after planting.
Gardeners who grow watermelons need to pay attention to whether the variety they produce is seeded or seedless. Seeded varieties produce pollen, but seedless don’t. This means that the farmer has to have a pollinizer, another plant that can provide pollen, or the plants won't produce any fruit. Gardeners should harvest the melons when the vines near the stem of the fruit turns brown or dies.
People sometimes think that yellow watermelons are the result of recent plant breeding experiments, largely because they are not as common as other varieties, but yellow and white varieties are actually older than pink and red. Experts believe that the yellow versions originated somewhere in Africa, although they haven’t been able to prove this conclusively.