In Season: Melons

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Whether you're a CSA devotee, a farmers' market weekender or consider ketchup a veg, we'll bring you fresh inspiration for how to prepare our local produce.

This week's harvest: Melons

It's time to enjoy the fruity floral spheroids. There are quite a few varieties of melons that you will find at the markets. You might find the dainty French charentais cantaloupe melon (of Cindy Crawford infomercial fame), the webbed muskmelons that we think of as cantaloupes, icy white and light green tinted honeydews, the super summery watermelon and many other variations of skin color, interior color and sweetness - but they're all fleshy and such a quenching treat for the hot weather.

Here's what wiki says about the origin of melons: "The first documented use of the word "melon" was about 1395. John Ayto's Dictionary of Word Origins suggests that the word is derived from Melos (the Greek Cyclades Islands, best known for the Venus de Milo)." Apparently we've been making boob/melon references for decades - and we thought we were so clever.

Here are some of my favorite ways to feast on melons.

​When are melons in season?
June through October.

Selecting, storage and preparation tips:
I know that this is a stressful fruit to select. You're buying a lot of fruit and sometimes spending a pretty penny so you have a lot riding on your powers of selection. Don't fret, here's what you need to know:

All melons should be blemish free and feel heavy for their size. That's my tip for almost every piece of produce -- easy. Then for the not-watermelons, you basically use your nose. If it smells amazing, take it home -- super easy.

For watermelons, you don't need to thwack it with your finger. I don't know what that's about. Here's what to consider: (1) a symmetrical even shape. That demonstrates a non-stressful growing experience -- regular water, regular temps. (2) You want a yellow field spot. It means that the watermelon was left to ripen on the vine. That is good. Watermelons don't really ripen off the vine. So, if it was harvested too early, you're screwed.

Keep your melons on the kitchen counter and eat the watermelons as soon as you can after they come home and the other melons when they have the best perfume.

After you cut it, you can store it in the fridge. Or if you want to serve the melon cold, refrigerate it just a few hours before serving.


Watermelon Juice
I love just chunking up a watermelon, squishing it all into a blender, straining (optional) and serving as a perfect soft and sweet juice.

Watermelon with Fennel Salt
For a fun twist, consider salting your watermelon.

Charentais Frappe
A special exotic blended melon beverage from Gwen Ashley Walters of Pen & Fork

Seared Watermelon
I used to say that you can roast absolutely any fruit or veg -- except for watermelon. It appears I was wrong.

Roasted Pork and Melon Sandwich
Fruit in sandwiches aren't new, but melon in a sammich might be to you.

Oysters with Melon and Sake

Watermelon Cake
Yes, cake!

Vanilla Ice Cream Filled Melon Bowl
Have you done this? Halve a cantaloupe (or other fragrant melon), scoop out the seeds and fill with vanilla ice cream. I did this as a kid and just loved it.

Preserved Watermelon Rind
An alternative to pickling the rind.

Jennifer Woods is a local food advocate with over 10 years working in the AZ food industry, and currently works for Crooked Sky Farms, a CSA produce farm based in South Phoenix.

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