Cantaloupe and Watermelons
Summer brings more than 20 different types of delicious, succulent melons to the farmers market. local farmers choose rare and heirloom varieties and let them slowly mature on their vines until perfectly ripe. Melons are relatives of squashes and cucumbers. Although often groped together, most sweet melons fall into two broad categories: watermelons and muskmelons.
Watermelons are easy to identify, but muskmelons come in many varieties including honeydews and cantaloupes. When choosing a melon, you'll use most of your senses: sight, smell, sound, touch and taste. Seek out symmetrical melons with a "filled-out" look. Weight offers hints about taste: a melon that feels heavy for its size hold lots of juicy flesh. Melons don't become sweeter after harvesting, but the texture and aroma can continue to improve.
First look at the stem scar. A smooth, hollowed scar indicates that the melon was harvested ripe. If a piece of the stem remains, it may have been harvested too early. For thinner-skinned melons, exert very gentle pressure on the base of the melon opposite the stem end. If the skin is easy to depress, the melon is ideal for eating. A musky aroma, produced by enzymes that generate more than 200 different esters, also signals ripeness.
A ripe watermelon has dull, not shiny skin and the lighter colored part of the rind, where the melon rested on the ground, should be yellow or creamy, not green or white. A light tap to the rind should produce a hollow sound.
Delicious on their own, melons, add sweetness to salads, cold soups, drinks, and sorbets. although melons are refreshing when served chilled, refrigeration diminishes their flavor so serving at room temperature is ideal. Or try grilling them. Cooking concentrates their sugars. Whatever you chose, enjoy the abundance this time of year!