Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Coolness of the Melons

Melon season has begun in Northern California and the outlook is good for a sweet and plentiful harvest which will continue all summer. Not a single cantaloupe or honeydew I've tasted in the last ten days has been anything less than superb, and the prices are right. Melons are an excellent source of quality nutrients and their cooling properties make them ideal for warm weather eating.

Selecting the perfect melon requires a bit of philosophy and a small leap of faith. There are no guarantees when it comes to guessing what's on the inside of any piece of fruit but there are a few guidelines to keep in mind as you peruse the pyramids of melons at your local produce stand.

The first is fragrance; shop with your nose. If a melon has no perfume, chances are it will never develop much flavor. Color is the second important factor; cantaloupes should show a golden color between the beige netting. If the rind is predominantly green, move on to the next melon. Honeydews should also have a slightly golden hue; small brown speckles indicate a high sugar content. The outside of a very sweet honeydew may even feel a little sticky to the touch.

Allow melons to continue ripening at room temperature until very fragrant. Ripe melons will keep well in the fridge for several days; allow to return to room temperature before serving for best flavor. Cut melon into chunks and store in glass jars in the fridge, ready for quick snacks. Or make spectacular fresh smoothies by simply blending melon with other ripe summer fruits like strawberries, raspberries or blackberries.

Melons grow while resting on the ground, and it's important to wash them before slicing. Scrub the rind gently with water and a vegetable brush and blot dry.


"Coolness of the melons
flecked with mud
in the morning dew."

(1644- 1694)