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Watermelons aren’t just round and red. They’re also yellow. But the yellow color is only flesh-deep. The outside of the yellow melon is still green, similar to a regular watermelon.
Some of us are surprised when cutting a regular watermelon ends up in a yellow flesh instead of the pinkish-red watery pulp. But that’s nothing to be surprised about because yellow watermelons have been around way before the regular watermelons we eat today.
You can find both seeded and seedless varieties of yellow watermelons that look exactly the same on the outside as their red counterparts — Green-striped rind.
But why exactly are they such a vibrant hue of yellow and what do yellow watermelon taste like? Let’s find out!
What is a yellow watermelon?
Yellow watermelons are botanically known as Citrullus lanatus, and they are members of the Cucurbitaceae family, which makes them related to pumpkins and squashes.
Yellow watermelons were first cultivated around five thousand years ago in Africa, and it is believed that the fruit underwent natural cross-breeding to define its flavor, color, and texture.
When the presence of a plant ingredient called lycopene became visible, the watermelon's insides turned pink and then red. The fruit eventually began to change from yellow to pink.
On the outside, yellow and red watermelons look nearly alike, and when mature, they taste almost the same. But they vary in size. The yellow watermelon weighs around 5-7 pounds, significantly less than the red variety.
Yellow watermelons are challenging to find in commercial marketplaces, despite their extensive history and cultivation, and are generally available only through specialty fruit stores. The vividly colored fruits are still dominated by their red-fleshed kin, but social media exposure has helped them gain a reputation during the last decade.
Why are they yellow?
Yellow watermelon gets its color from the lack of Lycopene, a plant pigment that imparts red color to tomatoes, grapefruits, and carrots.
However, a lack of lycopene doesn’t negatively affect the fruit’s nutritional value. It has much more to offer that we will discuss later.
What does yellow watermelon taste like?
The yellow watermelon is quite similar to the red watermelon that almost all of us are familiar with. It simply lacks lycopene, the pigment that gives ruby-toned watermelons, tomatoes, and papayas their vibrant colors.
Watermelon is a bright yellow fruit that is sweet and fragrant, with a honey-like flavor. You can expect it to have a taste between honey and apricot. This flavor is subtle and may not be noticeable, but the fruit is yum in any case.
The yellow watermelon has a juicy and water-loaded, crispy flesh with either some dark seeds or completely seedless. The flavor of yellow watermelons is subtle, delicate, and pleasant.
Ripe watermelon is great on it's own but also wonderful used in fruit salads, drinks, desserts, and more.
Where do yellow watermelons come from?
Although the true origin is unknown, botanists trace them back to having originated in Africa. Since then, five thousand years have passed while these yellow watermelons get their share of land.
Traders introduced the fruit into the Mediterranean via trade routes between 400 BCE and 500 CE, and they kept traveling from the Middle East to Asia.
The initial yellow-fleshed variety lacked the sweet flavor and high sugar content of modern cultivars, but growers deliberately developed the fruits for better flavor throughout time.
Farmers found out that the watermelons with red flesh are sweeter than the yellow-fleshed fruit, so they started growing red watermelons more. That resulted in the limited cultivation of yellow watermelon in the world.
In the 14th century, one of the first accounts of red-fleshed watermelons appeared in a medieval European manuscript.
Yellow watermelons are now considered a specialty variety available in Asia, Africa, Europe, Australia, North America, and South America through local farmer's markets and select supermarkets. In warm climates, such as Africa, Mexico, and Southern California, people cultivate this variety in their home gardens.
Where to find yellow watermelons?
With a superior taste profile and a similar nutritional profile as the red watermelons, yellow watermelons too must be mainstream. However, they are not commonly available despite all their benefits and appealing colors.
If you want one, you will need to visit local farmer’s markets in the areas where this variety is cultivated. You might get lucky and find them in a local grocery store during the summer months.
Still, there’s no way to differentiate between red and yellow types by only looking at their outsides.
Typically, there are five yellow watermelon varieties that you can find, but the problem remains the same. You cannot tell most of them apart from their red brothers. For example, a ‘Yellow Crimson’ looks exactly like the red ‘Sweet Crimson’ variety.
Only the desert king watermelon variety has a distinct pea-green rind and an oblong shape that makes it different from regular red and yellow watermelons.
Yellow watermelon nutritional benefits
Yellow watermelon has many health benefits. With roughly 46 calories per cup it's an excellent snack. Yellow watermelon is abundant in vitamin A and vitamin C, which can help the immune system and skin health, just like red watermelon.
Despite the lack of lycopene, yellow watermelon has more beta-carotene than red watermelon which is incredibly effective for preventing eye illnesses.
An amino acid called Citrulline present in the yellow pulp and rind of the yellow watermelon helps maintain blood pressure and improves your heart health.
Additionally, yellow watermelons contain vitamin B6, which instigates antibody formation in the body. These antibodies fight against diseases, so watermelon indirectly strengthens your immunity.
This vitamin works to break down proteins in the body, allowing for better absorption. Furthermore, Vitamin C, which prevents free radical damage and prevent illnesses, is present abundantly in yellow watermelon.
Yellow watermelon varieties
There are several varieties of yellow watermelon. Here are a few of the most popular:
- Yellow Doll - A smaller size, sweet watermelon.
- Desert King - This variety is a little more orange in color.
- Yellow Crimson - Bright yellow flesh and similar in taste and texture to a traditional watermelon.
- Yellow Petite - Another small size variety. These melons weigh about 4 pounds.
- Buttercup Yellow Melon - This is a seedless variety.
- Only cucumbers defeat watermelon in water content; they are 96% water, while yellow watermelons are 92% water (what a close chase, though)
- You can eat the rinds of any type of watermelon, including yellow watermelons.
- The first American published cookbook (1776) had a watermelon rind pickle recipe in it (hence proving that you can eat watermelon rinds)
- Egyptians placed watermelons in their kings’ tombs (there’s no way of verifying the color of the fruit, though, because they are mummified)
Yellow watermelon recipes
A gorgeous, delicious take on a margarita. Made with yellow watermelon and tequila, this cocktail has a wonderful sweet taste.
Watermelon wedge salad with diced cucumber and parsley. Super colorful, fresh and flavorful.
This fresh salsa is perfect for summer. Made with watermelon and tomatillos. Try serving with chips or tortillas.
Yellow watermelons are a specialty produce that is hard to find in regular markets.
If you want to try one, you’ll have to visit a local farmers’ market and especially ask for a yellow-fleshed watermelon.
However, both yellow and red watermelons are loaded with nutrients, so the red would certainly work even if you can’t find a yellow one.