Prev Next >>
Election Nomination Information
& General Merchandise News
Medicine for Summer Fun
More than the
Sum of Its Parts
& Fish: What You Need to Know
Profile: Cedar Grove Cheese
the Midwife: Chocolate and Pregnancy
& Drink Recommendations
Street Park: The Stage is Set for Summer Fun
WSGC Produce Team Member
June has arrived, which means there is an abundance of tasty melons in
the Willy Street Co-op produce department. This delectable fruit can be
a refreshing treat, a perfect way to end a meal, or the main course itself.
Here is a practical tour of the wonderful world of melons.
Origins and Seasonality
As members of the gourd family, Cucurbitaceae, melons grow on vines and
contain many seeds. Watermelons are native to tropical Africa, while most
other melons are indigenous to central Asia. Melons are now widely cultivated
in warm climates around the world, with a peak season from June through
September. We can look forward to delicious local melons from Tipi, Yesteryear,
and West Star farms in August and September.
Varieties and Ripeness
Cantaloupes are beige in color with a fairly dense orange-pink flesh and
scaly skin. Netted melons, such as cantaloupe and muskmelon, are ripe
when they give off a sweet and fruity odor. Honeydews have pale green,
sweet flesh and smooth, green-yellow skin. They mature slowly in storage
and are ripe when yellow in color and fragrant. Galia melons are a hybrid,
with characteristics of cantaloupe on the outside and honeydew on the
inside. Choose firm melons with ends that yield to pressure and which
emit a sweet fragrance.
Watermelons have crisp, pink-red flesh with smooth, green, mottled or
striped skin. The sugar baby is a smaller, ultra-sweet, seedless version
of watermelon. Although many try thumping, tapping, shaking, or smelling
a watermelon, its appearance is the best indication for ripeness. Watermelons
should be picked ripe since they do not continue to ripen after removal
from the vine. Choose a watermelon with a smooth rind and yellow to creamy
colored underside. A ripe watermelon usually has blunt ends, as pointy
ends may indicate the melon is still maturing.
Storage and Safety
Cut or ripe cantaloupe, honeydew, and galia melons should be stored in
refrigeration. Watermelon can be stored for two weeks at room temperature,
but is best enjoyed chilled.
Salmonella grows naturally on the rinds of melon, specifically cantaloupe.
The salmonella can be transferred to the flesh by the knife cutting it.
Our health department recommends sanitizing your cutting board and knife
with bleach, as well as washing whole uncut melons in a solution of bleach
water. Use just a capful of bleach in an entire sink of water and let
the melon air dry.
Here at Willy Street Co-op, we follow this same procedure for our cut
melons. To protect the organic integrity of our fruit, we rinse our melons
off before cutting them to dilute the level of bleach to four parts per
million or less, same as our drinking water, according to Dave Engel,
program director for the WI Chapter of OCIA.
I’ve heard that one should consume melons apart from other foods.
My research led to differing opinions. Paul Pitchford, author of Healing
with Whole Foods, recommends eating melon alone since they digest very
rapidly. According to Pitchford, consuming melons with other foods slows
their digestion, causing fermentation. Jeremy A. Safron, author of The
Raw Truth, disagrees. Safron states that in making melon soups, he has
found that they combine quite well, providing great taste and ease of
digestion. I suppose we all need to decide for ourselves what our individual
digestive systems prefer. If you choose to combine melons, here is a recipe
from The Raw Truth:
blend 1/2 of a large cantaloupe (seeded), 2 peaches (pitted), 1 1/2 cups
of freshly squeezed orange juice, and 1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg. Serve
in scooped out cantaloupe bowls.
However you consume them, melons pack a punch nutritionally. Although
watermelons are 96% water, they have tremendous health benefits, including
a positive influence on the heart, bladder, and stomach. Watermelon also
builds body fluids and can treat edema, canker sores, and kidney and urinary
tract infections. It is rich in the antioxidant lycopene and a good source
of vitamins A and C.
Although usually not consumed, the seeds and rind of watermelon are also
very beneficial. Watermelon seeds act as a general diuretic and benefit
the kidneys. They contain the compound cucurbocitrin, which dilates capillaries
to help reduce high blood pressure. Next time you enjoy a piece of watermelon,
try chewing the seeds well and swallowing them as opposed to engaging
in a seed-spitting contest.
The rind of watermelon is rich in silicon and chlorophyll. Silicon improves
pancreatic function, is essential for efficient calcium utilization, and
increases bone strength. Chlorophyll is the substance that makes plants
appear green. It has antibacterial, anti-fungal, detoxification, and anti-inflammatory
properties. In addition, it builds blood, renews tissues, activates enzymes,
and promotes healthy intestinal flora.
Both the seeds and the rind of a watermelon can be juiced along with the
fruit to obtain these health benefits. Try juicing watermelon in combination
with red grapes or a lemon to create a refreshing, nutritious summer beverage.
Willy Street Co-op: Your Melon Headquarters
If you’re in a hurry or want to enjoy melon on the go, look to our
supply of cut melons, which we will aim to keep well-stocked throughout
the season. And, as always, our produce staff is ready and willing to
help you leave with the best produce possible. So next time someone says
to you, “hey baby, nice melons!” tell them thanks, and that
you got them at the Willy Street Co-op.
Return to top