Author: Zarifa BABAYEVA Баку
The people of the Kalahari Desert inAfrica call watermelon the "lord of the desert."The Kalahari is the ancient homeland of the watermelon, and the watermelon can still be found in its wild form there. Watermelons were often placed in the tombs of the pharaohs as a source of food in the monarchs' afterlives. During the time of the crusades the watermelon was first introduced to Western Europeans.
In an interview with R+ expert on Eastern medicine, doctor of history and candidate of biological sciences Farid Alakbarli said that in the era of the Achaemenid Empire (the fourth to fifth centuries B.C.) watermelonswere cultivated in Azerbaijan. Until the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries watermelon was less popular than the melon in the Muslim East. In the Canonof Ibn Sina and in thePharmacognosy of Al-Biruniwatermelon is mentioned only in passing as the "Indian melon." Later the situation changed.Seventeenth-century author Mohammed al-Mu'minwrites the following about the watermelon: "Watermelon is a choleretic and a diuretic; it quenches thirst.Watermelon juice with honey and ginger is an expectorant,and when combined with milk is a choleretic."Muhammed Yusuf Sirvani [Shirvani] in Tibbnama (1712) wrote of the diuretic, choleretic, and thirst-quenching qualities of watermelon. "These succulent fruits quench the thirst and replenish minerals within the body," the work said.
An array of vitamins
Many associate watermelon with the coming of fall, with an abundance of vegetables, fruits, berries - with the "golden season,"which we should make the most of.However, not everyone knows that watermelon has a large number of medicinal properties and is practically entirely edible - rind, flesh, seeds and all. Watermelonflesh is, of course, the most valuable and tasty. It contains easily-digestedsugars (fructose, glucose, sucrose), pectins, cellulose, and vitamins РР, С, D, В1, В2 and В6. It contains many vitamins, carotene (provitamin A), as well as iron, copper, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, zinc, and folic acid. And, what's especially important, when compared with fruits and vegetables, watermelon has significantly more nutrients. Potasium, phosphorus, iron, and magnesium, in combination with various sugars (more than sixty percent) and its helpful pectins,have many health benefits; they stimulatethe metabolism; do a wonderful job of cleaning the kidneys and liver; flush out heavy metalsand toxins; improve the condition of one's stomach acid;prevent the formation of stones in the bladder and urinary tract; theyhave an anti-sclerotic effect. This is why watermelon is used as an effective treatment forchronic hepatitis, cholecystitis, biliary dyskinesiaand other conditions. In itsironcontent watermelon is second only to spinach and lettuce, and is unsurpassed in its levels of folic acid. As is well-known, folic acid is necessary for theproduction of blood and takes part in many of the body's biochemical reactions.
Watermelon can also be used to treat hypertension,arteriosclerosis, gout, rheumatism, arthritis, obesity, and other conditions. It should also be eaten for good general health.
The presence of lycopenein watermelon enables it to fight many types of cancer cells - those producing cancer of the aesophagus, prostate, stomach, liver, lungs, mammary glands, uterus, pancreas, large intestine, and others. Consumption of watermelon improves vision. Watermelon is especially recommended to those who are aging, because it increases insuline sensitivity.
Oil can be made from watermelon seeds. Watermelon seed oil matches the medicinal properties of almond oil, and tastes like olive oil. Oil from watermelon seeds contains zinc and selenium, which improve the functioning of the prostate gland, preventing inflamation, improving the production of sperm, and increasing the libido while reducing the risk of cancer.
Watermelon rinds are also healthy and edible. They are farricher in vitamins than the flesh of the watermelon, and possess many amino acids. The white flesh of watermelon rinds builds up healthy bacteria in the large intestine. Rinds are used to treat dysbacteriosis in children and adults, as well as colitis. Watermelons are a source of pectins, which are used to flush the body of toxins and heavy metals.
It is recommended to eat watermelon after surgery, especially if it was carried out with anaesthesia. Watermelon has an alkalizing effecton the body, neutralizing excess acids formed during digestion. Watermelon is a good diet food. One hundred grams of watermelon flesh contains only fifty calories. However, it's worth remembering that watermelon, like many fruits, causes fermentation and bloating in the intestines if eaten with other foods. That's why it's best to eat watermelon and melon separately, between meals.
In Azerbaijanthe growing of watermelons, pumpkins, and melons is generally done in the Kura-Araz Basin, in the Aran, Abseron, and Lankaran Districts. The Sabirabad-Saatli region and Zira on the Abseron Peninsula are known for their succulent watermelons and melons. This is connected with the temperatures of these places, since watermelon grows well in warm climates with good sunlight and low humidity.Don't miss the chance to improve your health that comes with watermelon season (late July, August, September) - eat as much watermelon as you want!
Melons are first mentioned in the Bible. Today wild melons are almost nowhere to be found. Cultivated forms of melon were derived by selecting from Asian varieties that grew in fields as weeds. Such varieties can still be found today. The first cultivation of melons may have been in northern India or in nearby regions of Iran or Central Asia centuries before the birth of Christ. Cultivated melons began to spread to neighboring areas: Central Asia and Asia Minor in the west, as far as China in the east. We know that the ancient Egyptians grew melons. Europe first learned of melons in the Middle Ages.
In the words of F. Alakbarli, in Azerbaijan melons are grown everywhere and in an array of varieties - especially in irrigated melon fields in flat regions. Melons have been grown in Azerbaijan since the Bronze Age. One of Azerbaijan's best varieties is the Saray melon, which was once widely grown on the Abseron Peninsula.
From time immemorial melons have not only been eaten, but also used in medicine. Melons are mentioned in the works of medieval pharmacistAli ibn Hussein al-Ansari (1329-1404) as adiuretic andcholeretic, adding that it can flush out bladder stones, cure fevers, severe coughs, and pain in the lungs. Melon should never be eaten with honey - it can have serious consequences. Melon can be used to make a special syrup or "melon honey" (bekmez). Melon can also be dried in the sun and saved up for winter.
A source of beauty
Modern research shows that ripe melons contain water (82-92 percent), protein, fat, sugar, cellulose, up to 45 mg of vitamin C, vitamin P and vitamin PP, provitaminА, folic acid, as well as various microelements (including an especially large amount of iron). Melons are a valuable source of folic acid, since vitamin B9 is effectively completely destroyed when heated, whereas melons are usually eaten in their natural, cold state. Folic acid is essential for pregnant women and those going through menopause, as well as for those who want to increase their memory and get rid of their depression.Vitamin C, which the wonderful melon helps us store up, strengthens the body during the cold of winter. Beta carotene improves the look of our hair and skin.Those who like to tan should include melon in their diet, as it makes a tan more lasting and even. Melons can improve one's mood, get rid of insomnia, fatigue, and irritability thanks to superoxide dismutase enzymes, which prevent the breakdown of the body's tissues.
The microelements present in melons give them a healing power. Melon flesh is rich in silicon, which is vital for the hard tissues, nerves, skin, and hair. The large amounts of iron help melon to prevent anemia.Melon's potassium and magnesium have health benefits for those suffering from cardiovascular complaints.
Melon has health benefits not only for women, whose appearance it can improve, but also for men as well. Melon seeds have been considered a powerful aphrodisiac for centuries, and can increase virility. They can be chewed fresh, but it's best to eat them with honey. It's important, however, to keep it within reason - no more than two grams a day, or else there is no avoiding problems with one's spleen.Melon is recommended to those suffering from bladder stones or gallstones.
The large amount of cellulose found in melon is one of its greatest qualities. In modern medicine the fruit is most often used to clear out the system and clean the intestines. Melon fibers help the body to flush out toxins.
In folk medicine melon juice has long been used to treat severe cough and throat ailments, as well as a vermicide. Melon decoctions are used as a treatment for acne, as well as a remover of freckles and blemishes.
Because watermelons and melons do not ripen all at the same time, they are sold from July to September. Whole watermelons and melons keep for two weeks, and their slices will keep in a refrigerator for two days.
A quite exquisite delicacy. It is served as a side to meat or fish.It's best to use small, half-ripe watermelons for pickling.They should be washed thoroughly, and then a few small holes less than 3 cm deep should be made in each of them. Put the watermelons into a container with brine that you have already prepared (add to a bucket of cold water 400 grams of table salt and 1.2 kilograms of sugar; if you want to make the brinewithout sugar, then use 700 or 800 grams of salt). The water should cover the watermelons. In three days the container should be put in a cold place, and in three weeks the watermelons are ready to eat.
WATERMELON BEKMEZ (HONEY)
Watermelon honey is a fantastic sweet. Washed watermelons should be cut into four pieces over a bowl, with the flesh of the watermelon removed with a knife and pressed through a cloth. The resulting juice should be brought to a boil while constantly stirred, and strained through a cheesecloth folded three or four times.The juice should then be boiled again until a thick, brown honey results.
A seeded melon with rind removed should be cut into pieces. Put the strips into an enameled pan of vinegar in such a way that they are just slightly covered. Cover the pan and let the strips sit for two days. After two days, put the melon in a strainer or sieve to drain the vinegar. Boil the melon in a sugar syrup. For each kilogram of cleaned melon use two kilograms of granulated sugar and two-and-a-half cups of water. When the melon becomes soft, take it out and put it into clean glass jars. Continue to cook the syrup until it thickens; once it does, pour it over the pieces of melon.