Friday, August 8, 2014

Featured Item of the Week: Melons

by Andrea Yoder

Some of the melons grown at Harmony Valley Farm

Melon and watermelon season is finally here! Every year we watch and wait for just the right time to start picking melons—too soon and they won’t be optimally flavorful or sweet, wait too long and we might lose them. Over the years we’ve carefully selected varieties of melons we’ve found to be the most productive, disease resistant, sweet and flavorful varieties that we can grow in our valley. We select smaller varieties that are most appropriately sized for packing in your CSA boxes. In the case of watermelons, our preference is to grow personal-sized seedless varieties. So, here we are in the middle of the season and it’s time to start bringing in the melons. The information that follows will help you identify each variety so you know what you’re eating! You can also refer to the pictures in this week’s “What’s In the Box” email to identify the melons you receive this season.

Sun Jewel Melons:  This is a small melon with a foot-ball shape, bright yellow rind with white stripes and slightly ridged. When you cut it open, you’ll find white flesh that is crisp and sweet. This melon goes well with other fruits in a fruit salad, can be pickled and eaten as a condiment, or you could wrap it with prosciutto and enjoy it as an appetizer.

Sun Jewel Melon
Sweet Sarah Cantaloupe:  Sweet Sarah has a lot going for her. Sarah melons have a more smooth, finely netted rind. The flesh is a typical orange cantaloupe color and has sweet flavorful flesh. We like the flavor of this cantaloupe because it is consistently tasty and doesn’t have much of the “musky” flavor other cantaloupe varieties may have.

Sweet Sarah Cantaloupe 
French Orange Melon:  This is one of our prized varieties that has developed a following over the years. These small melons are a cross between a cantaloupe and a French Charentais melon which is known to be more aromatic. French orange melons tend to be smaller than the Sweet Sarah melons, have a more coarsely netted rind, and sometimes have slightly green striping on the exterior. The flesh of a French orange melon is deeper orange colored, deliciously sweet, and very aromatic.

French Orange Melon
Green Japanese Cantaloupe (aka Ichiba Kouji, it’s Japanese name):  This is a new variety we trialed last year and found that we really like it! It comes in a little later in the season after the Sweet Sarah and French orange melons are dwindling down. The exterior of this melon resembles a Sweet Sarah, but you’ll find the flesh to be honeydew green, smooth and sweet. This is a very flavorful melon that we think you’ll find to be very likeable.

Cantaloupe Horchata
Recipe borrowed from The Best Recipes in the World by Mark Bittman

“The unusual thing about many Mexican fruit drinks is that the seeds are included; they’re blended, so you don’t realize this until you watch them being made, but this is the reason for their wonderfully intense flavors. This procedure works well for cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon, or other melon varieties.”—Mark Bittman.

Serves 4
1 ripe cantaloupe (about 2 pounds)
¼ cup fresh lime juice, more as needed to taste
2-4 Tbsp sugar, to taste (will depend on the sweetness of the melon)
2 cups water

1. Cut the cantaloupe in half; scoop the flesh, seeds and liquid into a blender. Add a couple tablespoons each of lime juice and sugar, along with 2 cups water. Blend until very smooth, adding a little more water if necessary.
2. Taste and add more lime juice or sugar if you like. Serve immediately over ice, or refrigerate for up to a couple of hours before serving.

Melon Sherbet 
Recipe featured on

Melon puree with honey and milk makes a delicious sherbet.
Serves 4-6
1 pound of juicy, extra-ripe, orange-fleshed melon
2 Tbsp mild flavored honey (may need more or less depending on the sweetness of the melon)
½ cup whole milk
Generous pinch of salt

1. Cut the melon flesh from its rind and puree in a blender. You will need 2 cups of puree.

2. Add the milk and salt. Now you want to sweeten to taste. If your honey is in a solid or crystallized state you need to dunk the jar in a bowl of warm water until it is liquid again. This way it will mix easily with the rest of the ingredients. Start by blending in 1-2 Tbsp of the honey and taste. If you think the mixture needs to be sweeter, add more honey. Keep in mind you want the honey to bring out and complement the flavor of the melon, not overpower it or make the sherbet too sweet.

3. Pour into an ice-cream maker, and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Store in the freezer.

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