Produce report: January 15
Any untoward weather aside, melons should be plentiful everywhere now. Most varieties have high water content (watermelon, as the name suggests, has 90 per cent) but they contain good levels of vitamin C and potassium too. Rockmelons (also known as cantaloupes) contain beta carotene which converts to vitamin A in the body and watermelons have lycopene (that red colour), so you are getting much more than a thirst quenching drink. All will be in season until March/April.
Melons will soften but not sweeten after harvest and should be stored in the fridge, covered in plastic, when cut. Rockmelons will smell sweet when ripe and their whitish netting should be pronounced. However, they should not be overly perfumed which indicates over ripeness. Still more to learn … look for a slight indentation but not too much softness in the blossom end (opposite the stem end which, incidentally, should have no remnants of where it separated from the vine). Watermelons, which are good diuretics, should be a uniform shape without too much shine - that means they are not yet ripe. Give them a tap. Ripe melons should have a hollow sound and all should feel heavy for their size.
Melons make beautiful ices. Try Celia Hay’s refreshing watermelon sorbet (adults only – it contains sparkling wine). The recipe comes with step-by-step instructions. Despite sounding tricky to make, no icecream machine is needed. This apricot sorbet below from Viva is just as good as a between-course palate cleanser as it is for dessert.
Watermelon goes well in salads as well, lovely with salty cheeses like feta and Viva’s melon, prosciutto and mozzarella salad makes a welcome accompaniment to a summery meal. It uses honeydew and rockmelon.
3 ways with summer produce
For these recipes and more see 50 no-sweat ways with summer produce