Nothing sets the summer scene like a watermelon on a plaid picnic blanket. It's the ultimate thirst-quenching snack, synonymous with the Fourth of July, but while red watermelon has dominated recent decades, its yellow-fleshed ancestor was the hydration hero of summers past.
Yellow watermelon was cultivated long before the rise of red varieties, with the first record of harvest depicted in Egyptian hieroglyphics over 5,000 years ago. Dubbed the "desert king," yellow watermelon was a treasured water source that could grow in the arid African climate and be stored for weeks in its hard shell. With more than ninety-percent water content, yellow watermelons were carried like natural canteens by merchants traversing long trade routes or sailors voyaging at sea. They were even placed in ancient Egyptian tombs—including that of the famous King Tut—to nourish the dead on their journey to the afterlife.
Joining yellow watermelons in the afterlife was mint. Melon and mint, the immortal coupling of summer, originally met in the mausoleum, as mint served as an aromatic in Egyptian burial rites to mask unpleasant odors. Mint's sweet smell was certainly legendary and, in some cases, eternal, as told in Greek mythology. A river nymph named Minthe once caught the wandering eye of Hades, god of the underworld, and was transformed into the plant by Hades' jealous wife. Unable to reverse the curse, Hades bestowed Minthe with a sweet aroma so that she would continue to captivate anyone in her presence.
From the tombs to your table, mint and watermelon have given life to the perfect flavor pairing to charm your taste buds and keep you cool and refreshed. Yellow watermelon's subtly sweet taste compliments the soothing flavor of mint, a combination ideal for fruit salads to sorbet and smoothies to gazpacho, so you can beat the heat this summer in timeless style.
Craving more? Download the Specialty Produce App to explore more juicy stories of fruits and vegetables or stop by the Specialty Produce Warehouse to try your own yellow watermelon and mint creation- we promise it's to die for!