The Mexicans use the juice of the fruit to make ‘Agua Fresca', their famous traditional and most preferred welcome drink in summer. Even the best of sparkling waters are not as refreshing as watermelon juice.
Fruit and vegetable
Whether you prefer it in the form of juice or as freshly cut slices from a roadside vendor, it tastes like manna from heaven to those who are tired of summer heat.
Watermelon, locally called ‘puchchakaya', is a favourite in summers. While most refer to it as a fruit, there are others who think of it as a vegetable. While they are consumed fresh in most parts of the world like a fruit, watermelons are stir-fried and stewed like a vegetable in some Asian countries.
The rind of the fruit is pickled in Russia. While most think it is a fruit because it is sweet and juicy, others think it is a vegetable because it is a close relative of the cucumber and grows on creepers.
Watermelon vendor K. Seenu has a shop close to Kedareswarapet Fruit Market. He buys the fruit by the tonne and sells them by the piece. Tamil Nadu is one of the sources of the fruit for the city.
But in Andhra Pradesh, the fruit is cultivated on a large scale in East Godavari, West Godavari, Nellore, Chittoor, Kadapa, Mahabubnagar, Ranga Reddy and Medak districts.
In the beginning of the season, a tonne costs Rs. 4,000, but now almost towards the end of the season the price is close to Rs. 8,000. Each tonne will have between 200 and 250 fruits, and depending on the size and demand each fruit fetches between Rs. 30 and Rs. 120, says Seenu.
General physician Srinivasa Rao Pernenkil says that watermelon reduces acidity and is a rich source of potassium, which is very good for people suffering from high blood pressure (hypertension). Potassium replaces sodium, which is a major cause in pushing up the blood pressure. The flesh of the fruit is rich in fibre, but 95 per cent of the fruit is water and, therefore, free from fat and cholesterol, Dr. Srinivasa Rao says.
Other advocates of watermelon say that it is rich in antioxidants and is a cure for kidney stones. It is a good source of Vitamin C, A and B. The seeds are a rich source of protein.