Melon Basics: Picking, Storing, Nutrition and Healthy, Oil-Free Vegan Recipes

Here are Melon Basic Essentials: How to pick, store, and cook healthy, oil-free vegan recipes.  When to choose organic.  Plus, nutrition information on this delicious, healthy antioxidant-rich fruit.

Melons are a healthy, naturally sweet fruit.  Melons are in prime season in the US during the summer.  June through August offers the most varieties of melon, with the sweetest flavors.  Outside of summer, most melons are imported from Mexico or South America

Melons are a healthy, naturally sweet fruit.  Melons are in prime season in the US during the summer.  June through August offers the most varieties of melon, with the sweetest flavors.  Outside of summer, most melons are imported from Mexico or South America

Watermelon comes in a variety of colors, from dark red to golden yellow.  You can find huge seeded melons and small "personal" seedless.  Check out your local farmer's market during the summer to taste all of the organic, heirloom melons

Watermelon comes in a variety of colors, from dark red to golden yellow.  You can find huge seeded melons and small "personal" seedless.  Check out your local farmer's market during the summer to taste all of the organic, heirloom melons

Chef's Tip: Add diced watermelon or cantaloupe to salsa and salad for subtle sweetness and beautiful, healthy color

Chef's Tip: Add diced watermelon or cantaloupe to salsa and salad for subtle sweetness and beautiful, healthy color

Chef's Tip: Enjoy fresh melon for easy, healthy snacking. Toss with other colorful fruit like grapes, strawberries, and kiwi for an enticing dessert

Chef's Tip: Enjoy fresh melon for easy, healthy snacking. Toss with other colorful fruit like grapes, strawberries, and kiwi for an enticing dessert

Chef's Tip:  Use a large spoon to scoop out the seeds of melon.  Try to keep as much juice as possible.  Work over a bowl or a cutting board with a grooved edge to help catch these sweet juices

Chef's Tip:  Use a large spoon to scoop out the seeds of melon.  Try to keep as much juice as possible.  Work over a bowl or a cutting board with a grooved edge to help catch these sweet juices

Chef's Tip: To remove the rind of a melon, stand the melon on one end and cut the rind off from the top to bottom. Work your way around the whole melon, cutting off a strip at at time.

Chef's Tip: To remove the rind of a melon, stand the melon on one end and cut the rind off from the top to bottom. Work your way around the whole melon, cutting off a strip at at time.

 

Quick Reference Pin:

Melon 101 - Helpful pin on how to choose, store, and use peaches plus nutrition and recipe ideas

Melon Basics:

Cantaloupe, Honeydew, Watermelon, Galia, Canary, Santa Clause, and other varieties

Season:  

  • Melons are in prime season in the US during the summer.  June through August offers the most varieties of melon, with the sweetest flavors.  Outside of summer, most melons are imported from Mexico or South America

Choosing: 

  • Your Nose Knows:  The best way to pick a ripe melon is to smell it.  Put your nose on the spot where the stem was attached.  It should smell sweet, like honey.  The sweeter, the better 
  • Heavy:  A melon that is "heavier than it looks" is full of juices.  When comparing melons, choose the one that is the heaviest.
  • Avoid Mold, Blemishes:  If a melon shows any sides of mold, bruising, or blemishes, avoid it.  It was likely picked a while ago and has been stored improperly.
  • Organic? You decide:  Because melons have a rind that you will cut off and toss, you'll also be cutting off pesticides and other chemicals that might have been sprayed.  Watermelon hits the middle of the list of "Pesticide Residue List" while cantaloupe and honeydew rank at the bottom.  However, organic produce is always more sustainable for the earth.  Bottom line: It's up to you if you want to spend the extra money to go organic
  • Muskmelon, Horned Melon, Watermelon:  Melons come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and colors.  You may have seen many of these 25 varieties, which include:
    • Watermelon, Muskmelons or Cantaloupe, Galia, Honeydew, Canary, and Santa Clause

Storing:

  • Cool and dry:  Store ripe melon in a cool, dry location.  A well-ventilated fruit bin in your refrigerator is fine.  
  • How to Ripen:  Leave that melon on the counter, near a couple of bananas.  After a couple of days, the melon will be nice and ripe.  You'll know because it will smell sweeter.  Place in the fridge to stop the ripening.
  • Eat within a week:  Keep ripe whole melon refrigerated and eat within 5-7 days.  For cut melon, wrap in plastic (or store in a plastic container) and eat within 3 days.

How to Clean and Cook:

  • How to Clean: Simply wash melons under running water.  Do this to remove any dirt on the rind.
  • How to peel, seed, and cut Melon:
  1. Cut the top and bottom off the melon to create a stable surface.
  2. Stand the melon on one end and cut the rind off from the top to bottom.  Work your way around the whole melon, cutting off a strip at at time.
  3. Cut the melon and half.  Use a large spoon to scoop out the seeds.
  4. Cut, slice, or dice into desired size.
  • How to Eat and Cook: Enjoy fresh melon for easy, healthy snacking.  Toss with other colorful fruit like grapes, strawberries, and kiwi for an enticing dessert.  Puree melon with fresh basil or mint for a chilled melon soup.  Blend into smoothies or frescas with other fruit like banana, mango, or berries.
  • Cooked melon?  Cooked melon recipes are rare because cooking tends to break down the melon into a mushy, unappetizing texture.  However, you can quickly broil or roast melon for a short time at very high temperature to bring out some of the natural sugars.

Nutrition (help from World's Healthiest Foods)

  • Low Calorie:  
    One cup of melon = 54 calories
    Calories in a WHOLE cantaloupe = about 200 - 250
    • Fat Free, Cholesterol Free, Low Sodium
    • Excellent Source of: Vitamin C, Vitamin A
    • Good Source of: Potassium
    • Also Has: Dietary Fiber, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B3 (Niacin), Vitamin B6, Folate, Magnesium, Copper, Vitamin K
    • Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Polyphenols in Melon: 
      • Vitamin C: Natural antioxidant helps fight free radicals that cause cancer
      • Vitamin A: Promotes bone growth, cell growth, and reproduction.  Promotes good vision.
      • Helps prevent and reduce Metabolic Syndrome because of anti-inflammatory nutrients
      • Contains carotenoids alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lutein, beta-cryptoxanthin and zeaxanthin; the flavonoid luteolin; the organic acids ferulic and caffeic acid; and two cucurbitacins—cucurbitacin B and cucurbitacin E

    ** FDA definitions for nutrients:
    Excellent Source = 20% or more recommended daily value
    Good Source = 10-19% or more recommended daily value


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