Cool and refreshing, melons embody the taste of summer. Find new ways to prepare melons. They\’re delicious pickled, and as pancake and tart toppers.
A fresh, bright red slice of watermelon is an iconic way to refresh your palate on a hot summer’s day. Melons, packed with health benefits, are at their peak in August, making now the perfect time to indulge in this seasonal treat.
Botanically classified as a berry, melons are part of the gourd family of plants, which also contains cucumbers and squash. Although watermelons, honeydew melons, and cantaloupes are the most widely recognizable melons in local grocery stores, there is an array of other varieties to taste. This time of year, farmers’ markets overflow with varieties that include slightly spicy Crenshaw melons, bright yellow Canary melons, and sweet, buttery-tasting Persian melons, to name just a few.
Melons are packed with a plethora of nutritional benefits. Thanks to their high water content, melons are not only thirst quenching, but also very low in calories as compared to other popular summer fruits.
Melons are also the perfect way to incorporate more colour into your diet. Red melons, such as watermelons, are a rich source of lycopene, which has been shown to decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease. Yellow and orange melons, such as cantaloupe, get their colour from carotenoids that convert in the body to vitamin A. Melons in general are also good sources of fibre, vitamins B and C, folate, and potassium. So this summer, sink your teeth into something sweet!
Whether eaten out of hand or incorporated into your favourite summer recipe, embrace this season’s bounty of melons and get ready to start wiping the juices from your chin.
- Grilled Chicken and Watermelon Sandwich
- Pickled Melon
- Zucchini Pancakes with Melon Raita
- Salmon and Honeydew Carpaccio
- Mixed Melon Tart
Pick of the patch
A perfectly ripe melon will not only be at its most tasty, but also be at its peak nutritionally. Picking the ideal melon can sometimes be a challenge, as oftentimes they are picked while still unripe to make it through the shipping process. To make sure you are getting the most health benefits, consider these tips for picking a prized melon.
- A melon should feel heavier than you would expect it to. The water content will typically increase with a melon’s ripeness.
- When gentle pressure is applied at the stem of a melon, the spot should give way very slightly. If it feels soft or even squishy, the melon is probably overripe.
- Ensure that the skin of the melon is not bruised or damaged.
- Smelling the end of the melon where the blossom grew should result in a pleasant melon aroma.
- Take note of the ground spot on the melon. This is the spot where it was resting on the ground. If it is white or green, the melon is still probably immature. A ripe melon will have a ground spot ranging in colour from creamy white to creamy yellow.
At home, it is best to store ripe melons, whole and uncut, in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. If they’re not yet fully ripe, you can leave whole melons at room temperature, away from direct sunlight, for a couple of days. Once ripe, melons should be refrigerated for no longer than three to four days. When ready to serve, for the best flavour, allow whole or cut melon pieces to come to room temperature before enjoying.
Fruit bowl friends
You can speed up a melon’s ripening process by storing it along with some ethylene-producing fruits such as apples, peaches, pears, bananas, or papaya.