For many people, watermelon is an undeniable symbol of summer. Bursting with juice and sweetness, few things are more refreshing on a hot summer day. In our mind, no summer cookout is complete without a watermelon or three. Perhaps the best way to eat watermelon is to simply cut it into big slices and eat the flesh straight off the rind, but the fruit also makes a wonderful ingredient in the kitchen.
When you think of a watermelon, you probably think of a large, juicy, green-rind watermelon like the Crimson Sweet. But there are tons of other varieties to explore, so don’t be afraid to branch out at the farmers’ market. Some types to seek out include the tiny, pink-fleshed Little Baby Flower; Moon and Stars, an heirloom watermelon that can reach 40 pounds; and the Yellow Doll, which boasts soft fruit and a golden rind.
Once you lug that watermelon home, try teaming the sweet fruit with briny, crumbly cheeses, such as feta or cotija. And don’t relegate the watermelon rinds to the compost heap. Bathe them in vinegar to create delicious pickles—they make an excellent foil for smoked or grilled meats. Lastly, take note that juicy watermelon makes a great canvas for summer cocktails—the mellow, sweet flavor pairs well with all kinds of spirits. Find all this and more in our collection of best watermelon recipes below.