Bright colors, delicate flavors, and refreshing juiciness characterize melons. As a group, melons are low in calories and sodium and high in fiber and Vitamin C.
Select melons of good color and shape for the variety. The rind should give slightly at the stem end when ripe.
Ripe cantaloupes have a bright orange flesh. Buy cantaloupes with a smooth, rounded, depressed area at the stem end. They should be completely covered with a cream-colored netting over a creamy yellow or creamy white background. A fragrant aroma is a sign of good quality.
Round or oblong, whole watermelons should be firm, symmetrically shaped, and have good rind color and a dull, waxy rind texture. However, the underside should be creamy yellow in color. Therefore, if you buy a cut watermelon, look for bright red flesh color and black seeds. Melons showing streaks of white inside should be avoided.
The flesh of honeydew melons is green even when ripe. The rind should feel smooth and velvety, with a creamy white or yellow color. A rind which is stark white tinged with green indicates an unripe honeydew.
To remove soil and bacteria, rinse melons in running water before slicing or peeling. Always store fresh, peeled melons in the refrigerator. Cut a small melon in half and remove the seeds, then top with a scoop of cottage cheese, ice cream or sherbet, chicken salad, fresh fruit salad, or enjoy the melon by itself.
1 head green lettuce
Cut a honeydew melon in wedges, then remove the rind. Alternate wedges with
avocado slices, arranged on crisp green lettuce, for a real green salad.
1 cantaloupe, cubed
1 cup vanilla yogurt
½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts
Gently mix ingredients and put in individual serving dishes. Chill at least 1 hour.
(Makes 1 gallon)
2 cups sugar
5 cups water
1 ¼ cups lemon or lime juice (fresh/frozen)
1 large watermelon
Orange juice, if needed
Mix sugar, 3 cups of water, and ¼ cup of lemon or lime juice in a saucepan. Boil 3 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Add remaining water and lemon or lime juice.
Cut top off of watermelon. The large part of the watermelon will be used as the punch bowl. Remove all pulp from both sections of the cut watermelon and reserve; drain juice and re-serve with pulp.
Decorate the edge of the watermelon shell bowl. To keep watermelon shell from rocking, cut a small, flat piece out of the bottom.
Extract juice from the watermelon by pressing pulp against the sides of a fine sieve. Measure juice. Add 10 cups of juice to the sugar-water mixture. If you do not have 10 cups of water-melon juice, you may substitute orange juice for part of the watermelon juice.
If you have extra juice, freeze it to use as ice cubes in the punch. Chill punch.
To serve, put ice cubes in bottom of water-melon rind punch bowl. Pour chilled punch into bowl.
Because of their high water contents, melons do not freeze well. They also lose their crisp textures during canning.
However, here is a nice way to use watermelon rinds.
Watermelon Rind Pickles
(About 4 or 5 pints)
Pare rind and all pink edges from the watermelon (need 3 quarts or about 6 pounds). Cut into 1-inch squares or fancy shapes as desired. Cover with brine made by mixing ¾ cup salt with 3 quarts cold water. Add 2 quarts (2 trays) of ice cubes. Let stand 3 to 4 hours. Drain; rinse in cold water. Cover with cold water and cook until fork tender for about 10 minutes (do not overcook). Drain. Combine 9 cups sugar, 3 cups white vinegar, 3 cups water, 1 tablespoon whole cloves and 6 cinnamon sticks. (Spices should be tied in a clean, thin, white cloth.) Boil 5 minutes and pour over the watermelon; add 1 thinly sliced lemon. Let stand overnight in the refrigerator.
Heat watermelon in syrup to boiling and cook slowly 1 hour. Pack hot pickles loosely into clean, hot pint jars. To each jar, add a 1-inch piece of stick cinnamon from spice bag; cover with boiling syrup to ½ inch from top. Remove. Process 10 minutes in a boiling water bath at altitudes up to 1,000 feet. At altitudes between 1,001 and 6,000 feet, process for 15 minutes. air bubbles. Wipe jar rims. Adjust lids.
More instructions for freezing, canning, and pickling vegetables and fruits are available at the following website: www.clemson.edu/hgic.