• 82°

Today is May 28

6 facts about watermelons

Watermelons provide cooling, juicy refreshment during the warm days of summer. But while they’re most associated with summer, watermelons can typically be found in grocery stores year-round. Watermelons are members of the cucurbitaceae family, which includes other gourds, such as pumpkin, squash and cucumber. Watermelons can be considered a fruit or a vegetable. In some areas of the world, watermelons are considered a fruit used primarily in snacks and desserts. In Russia, watermelon rind is pickled, while some Asian countries stir-fry or stew watermelons. To quench one’s curiosity about watermelons, the following are six facts about this beloved food, courtesy of The Watermelon Board.

1. Washing watermelons before cutting into them will help prevent the transfer of any dirt or bacteria into the fleshy center.

2. An average 15- to 20-pound watermelon offers 90 6-ounce servings.

3. Watermelons grow in warm climates and are harvested from Florida to Guatemala. Residents of the United States who want to enjoy domestically grown watermelons should look for them in June, July and August.

4. Seedless watermelons contain small, white “seeds.” These are actually seed coats that didn’t fully form. Crossing watermelons that are a diploid plant (having two sets of chromosomes) with a tetraploid plant (having four sets of chromosomes) will form a fruit with a triploid seed three sets of chromosomes). It’s the triploid that produces seedless watermelons.

5. Whole watermelons do not necessarily need to be refrigerated. But once cut, any remaining pieces should be refrigerated.

6. Watermelons are 92 percent water, and they’re the perfect carrying case for beverages. Early explorers even used watermelons as canteens.

**

Hamburger Day

Memorial Day BBQ tips

Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of summer. For many, Memorial Day weekend also signifies their first chance to invite friends and family over for a backyard barbecue. While some never put their grills away for the winter, braving the cold so they can keep grilling year-round, many may need a refresher to ensure their Memorial Day BBQ starts summer off on the right foot.

· Stock up on supplies. Before hosting your first backyard barbecue, take inventory of your supplies, making sure you have a spatula, tongs, oven mitts, a sturdy grill brush, and other accessories you may need during grilling season. Check each item to make sure it’s not worse for wear and do the same with the grill as well. Replace supplies that have too much wear and tear in advance of Memorial Day weekend so you have one less item on your to-do list come the day of the barbecue.

· Designate some time to do some cleaning. Even if you cleaned the grill and patio furniture before putting the items in storage for the winter, they likely will need to be cleaned again before you host your first soiree of the season. Remove any dust and check for spider webs or signs of other critters that might have made your furniture home over the cold winter. Droppings from rodents can be dangerous, and spiders can bite unsuspecting grillmasters. Clean patio furniture before putting it out as well.

· Find some new recipes. Hot dogs and hamburgers are perfectly acceptable backyard barbecue fare, but hosts who want to treat their guests to something new this summer can find a host of recipes online. Consider recipes for grilled vegetables so vegetarian guests can enjoy freshly grilled foods alongside your other guests. Just be sure to separate veggies from meat on the grill so vegetarian guests are not hesitant to eat. And while grilled meat tends to be popular at backyard barbecues, don’t overlook recipes for grilled fish that can be both nutritious and delicious.

· Get guests home safe. Memorial Day gatherings tend to be festive, but keep an eye on guests to ensure that no one consumes an excessive amount of alcohol. Keep a list of local cab companies on hand or download a car service app to your smartphone so safe means of transportation are always within reach.

**

Enjoy stuffed burgers this barbecue season

Barbecue season has arrived, so soon people will be bonding in the backyard over hamburgers and hot dogs. Backyard barbecue season begins in spring and continues through summer and, where the weather allows, into fall. Barbecues are a perfect summertime soiree, as they’re usually laid back affairs and make use of the pleasant weather.

While it’s fun to expand your culinary horizons over the open flame of a grill, it’s important that you never forget the basics, especially when entertaining crowds who are no doubt looking forward to grilled burgers. Giving the masses what they want is good hosting, but you can still try your hand at a little experimentation when serving burgers at your next backyard barbecue. The following recipe for “Herb Cheese-Stuffed Garlic Burgers” from Andrew Schloss’ and David Joachim’s “Mastering the Grill” (Chronicle Books) provides the best of both worlds.

Herb Cheese-Stuffed Garlic Burgers

Makes 6 servings

2 pounds ground beef chuck, 85 percent lean

2 tablespoons chopped garlic

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

3 tablespoons herbed garlic cream cheese, such as Boursin

6 hamburger buns, split

Oil for coating grill grate

The Grill

Gas: Direct heat, medium-high 425 F to 450 F; clean,

oiled grate

Charcoal: Direct heat, light ash; 12-by-12-inch charcoal

bed (about 3 dozen coals); clean, oiled grate on lowest

setting

Wood: Direct heat, light ash; 12-by-12-inch bed, 3 to 4

inches deep; clean, oiled grate set 2 inches above the fire

1. Heat the grill as directed.

2. Using your hands, mix the beef, garlic, salt, and pepper in a bowl until well blended; do not overmix. Using a light touch, form into 12 patties no more than 1/2-inch thick.

3. Put a portion (about 11/2 teaspoons) of cream cheese in the center of each of the 6 patties; top with the remaining patties and press together, taking care to seal the edges well. Refrigerate the burgers until the grill is ready.

4. Brush the grill grate and coat it with oil. Put the burgers on the grill, cover and cook for 9 minutes, flipping after 5 minutes, for medium-done (150 F, slightly pink). Add a minute per side for well-done (160 F).

5. To toast the buns, put them cut-sides down directly over the fire for the last minute of cooking.

6. If serving the burgers directly from the grill, serve on the buns. If the burgers will sit, even for a few minutes, keep the buns and burgers separate until just before eating