Today’s melons are way beyond your standard cantaloupes, honeydews and watermelons (though they are delicious this time of year). Exploring the produce section, I came across some newer variety melons I hadn’t seen before. Luckily, they were sampling. Here are some varieties that you might want to sample for yourself:
- Sugar Kiss– Round with netted skin and light salmon-colored flesh. The texture is soft, juicy and sweet like candy.
- Golden Kiss– This is a very flavorful Charentais variety. You can spot it by the netted skin and distinctive green ribs. The flesh is firm and a deep orange color with very sweet, intense melon flavor.
- Honey Kiss– This melon is a Hami variety, developed in China hundreds of years ago. It’s oval in shape and the skin is golden with netting. The flesh is a pale salmon color, with crisp texture and a honey sweet flavor. These are specialty melons, so they may be a bit challenging to locate, but worth the effort! Dulcinea Farms is a year-round grower of premium fresh fruits where you can link to a retailer near you.
- Galia – These melons were originally developed in Israel but are grown in the U.S. It looks like a cantaloupe on the outside with yellowish netted skin but the flesh is pale green and very juicy. Some call it ‘the dessert melon’ because it’s so sweet and satisfying.
- Golden Honeydew– Smooth, bright yellow skin with pale green flesh, Golden Honeydews have a sweet, mild flavor and are one of the juiciest melons available.
Keep in mind that different melon growers may have different names for their melons. If you can’t find one of the varieties mentioned, no worries. Just experiment! All melons are high in fiber and low in calories at about 60 calories per cup.
To pick the perfect melon, first check the aroma. It should be sweet and perfumy, practically filling the room. It’s a little hard to pick the perfect smooth-skinned melon, but the rough-skinned melons such as cantaloupes and muskmelons that have netting on the skin offer more clues. The netting itself should be raised above the peel. The background color should be golden, not green. Give a gentle squeeze at the stem end– it should give slightly. If you hear the seeds sloshing around when you give it a shake, the melon should be eaten right away.
Melons offer essential vitamins and minerals:
- Vitamin C is an antioxidant vitamin that plays an important role in the growth and maintenance of all tissues in your body. A one cup serving of cantaloupe provides 65 mg of vitamin C. One cup of casaba melon provides 37 mg of vitamin C, and honeydew provides 30 mg.
- Vitamin A plays a role in promoting healthy teeth, skin, bone, mucous membranes and vision. Vitamin A is also important for boosting the immune system. Cantaloupe and other deep orange flesh melons like Charentais are high in vitamin A, with more than 25 percent of the recommended daily amount in a one cup serving.
- Potassium— Consuming adequate amounts of potassium in your diet may lower blood pressure and reduce the impact of high-sodium foods. Cantaloupes and honeydews supply nearly 10 percent of your daily potassium needs per one cup serving.
- Lycopene— The red color in watermelon is lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that may be associated with preventing cell damage and reducing rates of certain cancers. A one-and-a-half cup of watermelon contains approximately 9-to-13 mg of lycopene. Watermelon contains about 40 percent more lycopene than a serving of raw tomatoes.
My recipe for Melon Balls with Mint & Prosciutto (from The AGE BEAUTIFULLY Cookbook) is a refreshing dish for breakfast, lunch or as an appetizer when entertaining. It’s included in the cookbook as an appetizer, but you can leave out the mint syrup and turn it into a great summer breakfast with tons of benefits, including:
Melon Balls with Mint & Prosciutto
1 ½ cup cantaloupe melon balls or cubes
1 ½ cup honeydew melon balls or cubes
¼ lb. thinly sliced prosciutto
2 Tbsp. crumbled ricotta salata or Manchego cheese
10-12 whole mint leaves
¼ cup raw sugar
¼ cup water
- Make the mint syrup – In a small saucepan, combine 5 or 6 mint leaves, the sugar and the water. Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the leaves and discard. Simmer the mixture another 5 minutes until thick. Set aside until cool.
- Place the melon balls on a platter. If using the mint syrup, dress the melon. Arrange the prosciutto, sprinkle on the cheese and garnish with the rest of the mint leaves.
My friends at Delicious Living http://deliciousliving.com/ and Mega Food® http://www.megafood.com/ have teamed up for some amazing recipes including Cucumber Melon Salad, which delivers sweet heat perfect for summer picnics.
Cucumber Melon Salad
1 medium cucumber (about 12 oz.), peeled
3 cups cantaloupe chunks (about ½ medium cantaloupe)
10 large fresh mint leaves, torn
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon or lime juice
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
¼ tsp. ground Chile powder
- Cut cucumber in half lengthwise and discard seeds
- Cut cucumber into ¼ inch slices
- Mix in a bowl with cantaloupe, mint, lemon juice and olive oil
- Add a few pinches of salt to taste
- Chill thoroughly
- Sprinkle with Chile powder just before serving
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