Honeydew Melons

French MelonHoneydew melons always remind me of summer mornings in my grandparents’ kitchen. It is their smell more than the taste that brings up the memory. My grandfather would be long gone by the time I woke up, but the aroma of his breakfast of coffee, toast and sliced melon would still hang in the air.

My grandfather had a vegetable garden in the back yard that was perfect for growing melons. The area was in full sun with plenty of air circulation and room to sprawl. Each spring, after the ground had warmed up he would sow seeds in small hills of soil amended with compost and well rotted manure. With consistent moisture, a mid-season application of fertilizer and plenty of pollinating insects the vines would produce fruits by late July. Once the flowers set fruit he would water only during extended dry periods because he found that too much water during this time would dilute the sweet flavor. To keep the melons from rotting on the bottom granddad would set them on top of overturned coffee cans.

My grandparents lived in a region where the growing season was long, which is ideal for melons. Gardeners in cooler climates can also grow melons but it takes a little more effort. You are probably better served buying melons from a local farmer’s market. When selecting melons at the grocery or farmer’s market always go for those that smell the best; fragrance is the key to good flavor. The melon should also be heavy and with some give when pressed. If you can hear the seed rattle when you shake them, they’re over ripe.

If you don’t plan on preparing them immediately you can select unripe melons, just store them in a cool, dry location and move them to the refrigerator once ripened.

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