FARMER FRESH by Deb Morris
Pacific Coast Farmers Market
Take both hands and dig into a big slice of juicy watermelon. Or cooking thick wedges of cantaloupe on the grill! Or cube several varieties of melon, add to a big bowl and toss with goat cheese and herbs for a real taste of summer. Yes, melons are here – and we love ‘em!
California is the number-one melon supplier. There are many new varieties of specialty melons at your farmers’ market now, not just cantaloupe, honeydew, and watermelon. Melon varieties are endless! Cantaloupe, honeydew, casaba, canary, Crenshaw, and watermelon are the most well-known varieties. From Casaba and Crenshaw, to Persian and Canary melons, they’re all tasty, sweet, and packed with lots of vitamins. Look for more specialty varieties at your farmers’ market from Bautista Ranch, Cipponeri Farms, or Guzman Ranch. Remember the following two attributes of a ripe melon. Rely on your nose, and look for a melon with the strongest fragrance, for this will most likely be the best tasting. Next, look for a melon that is heavy for its size, because if you have two melons of equal size, the heavier one is almost assuredly the riper and better tasting melon.
As with most fruit, avoid melons that show cracks, shriveling, or other obvious signs of poor quality. Another good test is to shake the melon. If you hear liquid sloshing inside, the melon is most likely overripe. Most melons will ripen after they are picked, but their sugar content won’t increase, so try to select only ripe melons at your market. Keep uncut melons at room temperature for two to four days or until fully ripe, then refrigerate for up to 5 days. Refrigerate cut melon in a covered container for up to 3 days. It is suggested that you wash melons thoroughly before slicing to remove any potential bacteria.
Easy Cantaloupe Recipes (Other melons can be substituted for cantaloupe – Crenshaw, honeydew, watermelon, etc. will all work.)
- Cantaloupe kabobs – Make balls with a melon baller. Skewer alternating small mozzarella balls, cantaloupe balls and chunked avocado.
- Cantaloupe wraps – Wrap slices of cantaloupe with good quality prosciutto.
- Grilled cantaloupe – Place big slices of cantaloupe on the grill or in the broiler for salads or side dishes. Grilling caramelizes the fruit.
- Cantaloupe salsa – Chop cantaloupe, cilantro, jalapeno, red onion, avocado, and red bell pepper in a bowl. Add squeeze of lime juice, salt and pepper. Serve over fish or shrimp – or get out the tortilla chips!
- Shaved melon salad – Slice melon with a mandolin into thin strips. In a bowl, toss melon with small chunks of feta cheese and sliced red onion. Add a bit of cracked black pepper, if desired. Serve chilled.
Recipes: PCFMA Staff