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Watermelons, cantaloupes and honeydews are perhaps the most iconic melons in the United States. If you like those, you’ll love meeting more of the Cucurbitaceae botanical family! There are dozens of melon varieties, each with a distinctive flavor and sweet, fleshy fruit.
Melons are easy to prepare in many culinary ways! Melons are known for their thick rinds that protect the firm, sweet flesh and seeds inside. Some rinds are inedible, like that of cantaloupe. Other rinds are primed for pickling, like that of the watermelon.
In general, many varieties of melon seeds are edible either raw or cooked. Each variety is different, and some seeds may only be safe to eat once they’ve been cooked to improve texture and remove certain naturally occurring chemicals that can be toxic. Seeds may be roasted or boiled.
Melons can be eaten raw in slices, or enjoyed in salads, smoothies, shakes and sorbets. They may also be cooked through grilling, boiling, baking and more! Heat brings out melon’s natural sugars, giving them even more unique and complex flavor.
How to prepare your melons will depend on the recipe you’re using. Here are the most common ways to prepare melons for just about any recipe.
Melons come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but the basic approach to slicing them is similar. To slice melons more safely, always use a sharp chef’s knife and a heavy cutting board, secured with a wet towel underneath to keep the board stable. Here are some basic ways to cut a melon:
- Melons tend to have a thick, sometimes waxy peel with softer, dense fruit on the inside. Start by slicing away ½ inch of the peel at the end of the melon where it was cut from the vine. Then, turn the melon to sit upright on this flat surface. Slice away the rind in strips perpendicular to the cutting board, all the way around the fruit, leaving no bitter rind on the melon flesh. Finish by slicing away the remaining round top of the rind.
- Cut the melon in half from top to bottom. Set one half aside.
- Depending on the melon, their seeds may be interspersed throughout the fruit, or they might be neatly arranged in the center.
- If seeds are found throughout the fruit, like a watermelon, the seeds are likely to be hard and inedible, but excellent for annual summertime seed spitting contests.
- If the seeds are in the center of the fruit, like a muskmelon or cantaloupe, these are inedible too and should be scooped into the compost bin.
- Lay the long, flat surface of the melon on the cutting board, and cut the fruit into ½” or 1” slices and serve.
Melons are loved by people of all ages around the globe. And with so many species to choose from, these botanical berries add fresh, crisp sweetness to tons of different recipes. These fruits can be eaten raw, even pickled or fermented. Heat makes the natural sugars of melon even more pronounced, which is why so many varieties are used in grilling, roasting, baking and candy making.
- Grilling: These summer fruits are begging to be sliced, skewered and caramelized at the next barbeque. You can also grill thick slices of melons along with your peaches and plums for a unique, grilled fruit salad.
- Baking: Melons can be baked into cakes, breads, and delicate tarts.
- Confection: Sweet, crisp melons are delicious in jams, jellies and candy making.
Melons are a diverse group of fruits, with endless potential to add fresh, crisp sweetness to drink recipes. These fruits can be sipped in juices, water, cocktails, batch drinks, smoothies and liqueurs. Here are some easy ways use melons in your drinks:
- Juicing: Melons should have their rind and seeds removed before feeding the flesh into an electric juicer. Melon juice is delicious on its own or with other fruits and green vegetables.
- Smoothies: If you’re wondering what to do with ripe melons, smoothies are a fantastic option. To prepare your melons for smoothies, slice the fruit into chunks and reeze them on a cookie sheet with space in between each piece. Once frozen, store them in an airtight container in the freezer. You can easily pop frozen melons cubes into smoothies!
- To make delicious alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, cook your melons into a basic syrup and stir it into your drinks.
Many melons have a generous shelf life and can be stored whole on the countertop even after they are ripe. Depending on the melon, it should last over a week this way. Those who live in warmer or more humid climates may find better melon storage success by keeping them in the fridge. Cut or ripe melons should be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days.
To freeze melons, wait until they are fully ripened and slice the melon to remove any inedible seeds or rind (depending on the variety). Freeze sliced melon on a cookie sheet with space between each piece. Once frozen, store the fruit in an airtight container in the freezer for up to three months.
Do you feel like a melon eating expert now? Show us your favorite ways to prepare and eat melons by tagging us in your culinary masterpieces on Instagram @Fruitstandcom!