In this installment of our summer series about enjoying in-season organic produce, learn simple tips for highlighting melons in fresh, well-spiced meals!
By Tom Havran
Juicy, fragrant and fleeting, melons come in a variety of glorious flavors and forms when they appear at your summer market. The popularity of the big four — watermelons, muskmelons/cantaloupes, honeydews and casaba/crenshaws — have never waned (for good reasons), but there are also a host of heirloom and specialty melons that you should grab up as well, including galias, charantais and canaries.
How to prepare it: Clean the surface of the melon with a veggie wash and plenty of cool water, and pat dry. Using a heavy chef’s knife, remove a small oval of rind to create a flat spot to stabilize the melon for slicing in two equal halves. The sweetest flesh surrounds the seeds, so very carefully remove them without damaging too much flesh. Melon should be served cool but not overly chilled so that the flavor and aroma nuances are fully available to the senses.
Spices and herbs to complement: Peppermint and spearmint can help to elevate and expand the dewy sweetness of melons. Sweet basil and even thyme and oregano can enhance the complex aromas of melon. Try dusting fresh melon slices with spices such as nutmeg, mace, cardamom and cinnamon to create unexpected and remarkable taste sensations.
Pairs well with: Enjoy with wild cured meats like ham (especially prosciutto), smoked and cured fish (especially salmon) and mild hard and semi-hard cheeses. Mild nuts such as almonds, macadamias and pistachios also pair well with ripe melon.
5 tips for enjoying melons:
- Watermelon is ripe when it feels heavy for its size and has deep, solid tone and a creamy/yellowish (not white) underside.
- Muskmelon is ripe when netting is raised and corky and the blossom end is fragrant and yields to pressure.
- Honeydew is ripe when bright yellow. Minimally handled ripe honeydews will have a velvety, slightly sticky, fragrant rind.
- Try making a melon slushy – cube, freeze and toss melon in blender. Add vanilla, heavy cream or yogurt to make a smoothie.
- For a classic melon dessert, fill half a small cantaloupe with homemade vanilla ice cream.
What are your favorite ways to enjoy fresh melon?
About the author: Tom is communicator of natural living for Frontier, Simply Organic and Aura Cacia brands. In other words, he’s a very imaginative copywriter. A local boy, raised on a farm just down the road from the company’s headquarters in Norway, Tom enjoys drawing, plant hoarding, cooking and living the simple life in the beautiful state of Iowa.