We were standing around the melon bin at last week’s CSA pick-up, and I was explaining to my mom what I knew about picking out a good canteloupe.
- It should feel heavy for its size.
- Its blossom end should have some give. (Which end is the blossom end? One side will be where the fruit broke from the thick vine, and you’ll be able to see the outline of where the vine was. The other end is where the fruit grew from the flower, and that’s where you’ll want to press to see if it’s a little soft.)
- It should smell like you want it to taste – fruity and a little sweet.
So people started gathering around, looking at me and looking down at the melons in their hands. I kept repeating myself, and soon there was a small group of us standing around sniffing and hefting and poking and nodding and shrugging.
Though my 3-point list let me pretend to be a candidate for mayor of Melonville, as often as not, I end up with a tasteless melon from our CSA share. At the store, I ask for a taste of melons before I buy them, and if I can’t have a taste and end up with a dud then I’ll return it for a refund. But you can’t do that at the farm, and that’s why I’ve been working on ways to use those less-than-perfect ones. Here are a couple of my latest favorites.
Spicy Honeyed Canteloupe
Serves ~10 (adjust as necessary – we were having a dinner party and so wanted a big platter)
- 1 whole canteloupe, seeds removed, sliced
- 3 T. honey
- 1 t. hot pepper (I used Aleppo, which has a great texture and is mildly hot. You could sort of fake it with 1/2 t. sweet paprika and 1/2 t. hot pepper flakes)
- sprinkle of kosher salt
- Put melon on platter, drizzle honey over, then sprinkle pepper and salt.
- Serve either cold or at room temperature.
- cubed flesh from one canteloupe, pureed in blender with 2-3 T. water
- 2 c. lemon juice
- 3/4 – 1 c. sugar, depending on whether the melon is at all sweet
- water as needed
- For a smooth lemonade, strain the canteloupe through a mesh strainer, add water as needed to get to 6 cups total liquid. If you don’t mind some texture, you can skip the straining and just add water as necessary to get to 6 cups.
- Mix together canteloupe, lemon juice and 3/4 c. sugar. Stir well to dissolve sugar, then chill and serve.