Food Friday: Melons

31 05 2013

melon

I adore melons. I’ve often remarked in heaven, I plan on eating nothing but cantaloupe and watermelon (ok, and maybe a croissant or two, just for balance). When they are ripe and sweet, there is nothing better.

A favorite since ancient times, and remarkably fantastic for your health and skin, there’s just no excuse not to indulge in a big bowl of melon each morning for brunch, or even as a sweet treat as dessert.

But they are fraught with questions for me… how do I pick the best one? How best to slice it? Is eating an entire melon by myself in one sitting too much?

Here are a few helps to get us all enjoying this summer delicacy.

  • A ripe melon should give slightly when pressing your finger to the skin. Take a sniff. The smell should be slightly sweet, and if all else fails, go with mom’s old trick of picking the heaviest melon in the bin. The theory is, the heavier the melon, the juicier it is.
  • If you can’t find a ripe melon at the store, no need to bring it home. Melons won’t continue to ripen after picking, so if it isn’t picked at the height of perfection, sadly, it never will.
  • Melons will store well in the refrigerator for several days, but a sliced melon will pick up other food odors easily, so wrap it in plastic bags or in an airtight container.
  • Bring your melon, as with any fruit, to room tempurature about 30 minutes before serving to bring out the flavor.
  • Even though you don’t eat the skin, it’s still important to wash thouroughly, since melons are grown on the ground and can easily pick up contaminants. Don’t transfer those nasties from the skin to your knife to the fruit.
  • Get all those seeds out in one scoop — an ice cream scoop, that is! The large scoop is perfect for removing the center seeds.
  • But if you’re not going to eat the entire melon right away, leave the seeds in the half you’re saving for later. They will help keep it moist.
  • Summer is the season, but I’ll have to admit my only qualm with melons is how hard they are to slice and prepare. Practice and a little expert help are all you need. Take a look at this video for a genius new way on how to get to the sweet fruit a little easier.

So much, from sweet to savory pairs well with melon. Here are a few of our favorite flavor pairings.

  • Basil
  • Cilantro
  • Curry
  • Fennel
  • Ginger
  • Mint
  • Tarragon
  • Salt
  • Black or white pepper
  • Chile peppers, powder, and sauce
  • Sugars: white or brown
  • Olive oil
  • Honey
  • Almonds
  • Hazelnuts
  • Macadamias
  • Pecans
  • Pistachios
  • Prosciutto
  • Milk and cream
  • Apricots
  • Blackberries
  • Cherries
  • Grapefruit
  • Lemon juice
  • Mango
  • Tomatoes
  • Red Onions
  • Goat Cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Vinegars: Balsamic, rice, or sherry
  • Champagne

From well-known canteloupe, honeydew, or watermelon, to Persian or Santa Claus varieties, there are many melons to choose from. Which is your favorite?

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