By Casey Goode, ECNG Produce Manager
During the summer months, we at the Natural Grocery Company carry a wide selection of different types of organic melons. Big or small, yellow, green or white fleshed, we have it all! There is something for everyone here, but how does one pick the right varietal and choose the right melon? Here are a few tips and tricks that I have learned to pick the best melon. We will be getting in more varieties as the summer months progress into fall.
These elongated melons are coming to us from Jeffrey Mettler Farms in Bakersfield Ca. The best way to pick a seeded watermelon (one that has black seeds inside) is to check for the wasp stings! Wasps will sniff out a sweet melon and sting it to release some of the sweet nectar. Look for a line of tiny brown dots on the rind with small drops of black candy seeping out. This method has always worked for me when choosing a seeded watermelon. Watermelons, unlike cantaloupes, have to be harvested when ripe as they do not continue to ripen after being picked.
Our seedless (red fleshed) watermelons are coming from Rundle Family Farms in Fresno.
We also have 2 other types of watermelon coming from Full Belly Farm in Guinda Ca. The other types are “Orchid”, which has a mild, sweet orange flesh, and “Yellow Doll” which has a sweet, slightly stronger flavor and the flesh is yellow in color. When picking a seedless watermelon, there are many different things to look for. These tips can be applied to other types of melon as well. First, pick a dull looking melon. A shiny appearance indicates an under ripe melon. (This also applies to Green Honeydew.) Second, find the field spot. This is the creamy spot on the rind of the melon where it has rested on the ground. This spot should be yellow, not white. The darker and bigger the spot, the longer it was on the vine sweetening up. If the spot is white or nonexistent, put it back as this will be an under ripe melon. Third, knock on it! A dull thud indicates an over ripe melon. You will get a dull thud if the flesh is soft, which you don’t want. Your knuckles should bounce off of the melon and the surface should be pretty hard-firm. Next, pick it up! The melon should feel heavy for its size. Compare it to other equally sized melons. Last, check the shape! Irregular bumps indicate it may have gotten inconsistent amounts of sun or water. These melons will usually have a big crack in the flesh inside.
We have both green and orange fleshed Honeydews right now. They are coming to us from Full Belly Farm in Guinda, Ca. Orange Honeydews are easy to pick because they will give off a strong sweet smell when they are ripe. Green Honeydews are a little trickier. Look for a dull rind that looks more white than green. Also, rub a couple of fingers back and forth on the rind. If it feels sticky or tacky after doing this, then it’s ripe!
With melons that have “netting” on the rind (see image below), always go in for a sniff. These types of melons will always have a sweet scent when ripe. Also, look for the background color. You want this to be yellow, not green. Other types of melons we carry with the netted rind are Galia, (bright yellow netted rind with a very sweet white-green flesh) and Goddess (white netted rind with super sweet orange flesh). These 2 types are a little softer in texture than a cantaloupe.
Piel De Sapo (skin of the frog)
Also known as the Santa Claus melon, these green, oval shaped melons should be a little soft to the touch, especially on the ends. Inside is a white flesh that tastes like mild green Honeydew.
This melon has a sweet flavor and is slightly tangier than green Honeydew. The flesh resembles the white flesh of a pear. When ripe, the rind has a slight waxy feel. The name comes from its bright yellow color, which resembles that of the canary.