4 Summer Melon Recipes

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North Carolina melon production is as reliable as our state’s summer heat. Melons require many days with temperatures over 80 degrees to develop their sweetness. No problem here.

Our most popular muskmelons and watermelons have taken long journeys to get to our tables, originally hailing from Persia, Africa, India and Japan. Watermelon has been around for more than 5,000 years. Ancient Hebrew texts mentioned the large oblong melons, and pictures of them appeared in Egyptian tombs. Early melons were tough and green inside – no North Carolina sweetness there. They were grown as a source of water, a nice thing to leave for anyone journeying the long road toward afterlife.

Cantaloupe is the common name for muskmelon. Honeydews, casabas, crenshaws, sprites and many others belong in this category. The word “musk” means perfume.

While taking in the fruit’s musk is one good buying practice, another is checking to see if there is a stub left on the melon from picking. A ripe and sweet melon will naturally slip off the vine, freeing the fully ripe fruit. That thumping thing? I can’t really tell what to listen for, even after having it explained several times. I just spent a longer period of time than I care to admit watching YouTube videos about it. My conclusion is that I’m better off looking for gashes and bruises. Another good buying tip: The pale area on the bottom of a watermelon not ripened by the sun should be a rich yellow color.

And there are plenty to pick from. You can enjoy the grapefruit-sized sprite as a snack and win state fair honors with its huge, 200-pound-plus watermelon cousin. Melons can possess ripe and juicy soft orange pulp, heavenly and quenching red flesh that yields to a slight bite or pale green honey sweet innards that announce summer flavor. Eat melon now when it’s ripe and versatile.

Here are a few recipes using this summer fruit. Serve these seasonal melon offerings within a few days. Fragile melon, with its high water content, loses its punch more quickly than heartier produce.

Vinegar or citrus work with honey or sugar to bring melon flavors out fully. I don’t think of them as enhancers as much as I do coaches. Like good coaches do, they bring unexpected qualities to the surface and highlight strengths in each of these recipes.

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Watermelon Basil Ice

Watermelon Basil Ice combines two favorite summertime flavors for a fresh, healthy take on frozen desserts.

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