It's melon season, and they are arriving at the supermarkets and farm stands by the truck and trailer loads. Watermelons are the big guys, with cantaloupes and honeydews showing up, too. The big shocker this season is price, which is perhaps a reflection of fuel costs for getting a heavy crop from the field to the consumer. This makes it even more important to choose a great melon.
There are several ways to lessen the risk of picking one that is underripe and minimize the chances of getting a bad melon. It can be a bit of a hassle to lug the thing back to the seller, but save your receipt just in case. Most reputable vendors will tell you to bring it back, especially local growers you have known over time. Buying off a trailer or roadside truck could be a little harder to return. Do check the seller's license plate or just ask where he or she is from.
The nearest melon growing area to our home north of Enid is the Ringwood and Cleo Springs area. The same Cleo Springs farmer sold Black Diamond watermelons and cantaloupes just down the highway from our home for a number of years. It was always nice to see him waiting by his truck to help you pick a good one. He offered to take any back that weren't good, but we never had to take him up on his offer.
Recently, I ran across another indicator for picking a great watermelon. Since applying it a few weeks ago, I haven't gotten a bad one. The old thumping test is a bit subjective. You stand there thumping and patting on melons trying to compare their sounds. I still thump, but other indicators are easier to discern than the watermelon bongo drum approach that can lead to confusion.
What to look for
Here are some factors to consider when choosing a watermelon: The stem end should be dried up if there is a stem attached to the melon. There should be no soft spots. The melon should have a good shape with no lopsided traits. There should be a white spot on the bottom of the watermelon that did not get exposed to sunlight. That spot should have a yellowing effect, which indicates a good ripe melon.
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Minty Melon Dressing
Here's a great way to sweeten up a melon that might be slightly less than perfect: Add a bit of mint and honey. This dressing works well with any melon or combination of melons. Other seasonal fruits or berries can be added to the melon.
6 to 8 cups melon chunks
¼ cup honey
¼ cup fresh-squeezed lime juice
¼ cup water
¼ cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves, removed from stem.
• Place liquid ingredients in blender jar, blending until well combined.
• Add mint leaves and pulse until leaves are finely minced.
• Pour over melon chunks and toss to coat and distribute evenly.