Thursday, 25 August 2011

Can you manage a melon?

The perfect antidote to sultry summer heat
One of the reasons I love shopping at markets is the sheer abundance of variety you find, whereas produce found at the supermarket has been carefully picked and bred, not for taste or variety, but for shelf life, and looks.It has been said that Melon, like wine, can not support mediocrity.Knowing what to look for when buying it and how to care for it once you´ve got it home will spare you mediocre melon, and believe me, I´ve learnt the hard way. A good melon is hard to find and when you do its usually melondipity.
Because melons must be eaten at the moment they reach, in the words of Brillat-Savarin, "the perfection which is their destiny." recognising ripeness is the key to fulfilment. Cantaloupes. like many other summer fruits, have virtually no starch reserves before they ripen, so they don´t get any sweeter once they´ve been picked. In fact, the cantaloupe has a built in system that halts the development at exactly the right time.When the sugar content reaches saturation, a separation layer develops where the stem meets the fruit, preventing further nutrients from entering the melon. The layer in the stem then pulls away, which is why ripe melons are so easy to pick. If a Cantaloupe is damaged at the end of the stem, it´s obviously been picked too early.
Choose cantaloupes that are heavy for their size and have a sweet, musky fragrance. The "netting" should be thick and well-raised and the colour behind it golden rather than green.The melon should give slightly when pressed with the thumb at the stalk end, and a smooth patch should surround the opposite end. Avoid melons with soft spots, scaly irregularities, shrivelled skin, cracks, or an overly strong odour.
Though their sugar content won´t increase, cantaloupes will get juicier and softer if left for a few days at room temperature. After that, they should be refrigerated- either wrapped in plastic wrap or tightly sealed in a plastic bag, as their aroma tends to permeate
everything around it and you certainly don´t want melon flavoured milk.While on the subject of flavoured milk, have you tried the new Casa Rosada melon and ginger smoothie?
Try also cold cantaloupe and mint soup, cantaloupe in port jelly or try chumming it up with some presunto or bacon in a summer salad or sandwich.

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