By Mira Reverente
The early onset of unusually hot days typically translates to beach and pool outings. When it comes to food, succulent summer fruits are on top of the list.
Last Saturday at the Calabasas Farmers Market, our roving eyes found three melon varieties perfect for this much-awaited season.
Named after the Italian village of Cantalupo where it was first cultivated, this melon variety is typically available year-round. However, their peak season, when they are at their sweetest, is from June to August.
Cantaloupes provide the most beta-carotene in the entire melon family. Also known as muskmelons or rockmelons in different parts of the world, cantaloupes were selling for $3 each at the Oasis Organics Company stall.
“Ripe cantaloupes look slightly golden and usually have a light fragrant smell,” said Raul Ruiz, an employee of the San Diego-based grower.
To enjoy, top sliced cantaloupes with some cottage cheese or yoghurt and top with chopped mint. Also, try slicing in half horizontally then scoop out the seeds and use each half as a fruit salad server.
Known as the green-fleshed cousins of the cantaloupes, honeydews are available year-round but are at their freshest and sweetest from May to October, its peak season.
Known for their creamy rind and pale green flesh, these sweet melons were also retailing for $3 each for the regular-sized variety and $2 for the petite versions at the Oasis Organics booth.
Fat-free, cholesterol-free and low in sodium, many people also turn to honeydews for weight control and blood pressure maintenance.
Ruiz’ tips for choosing the best honeydews: look for ones that have no soft spots and when you shake them from side to side, you should be able to hear the shaking of the seeds inside.
Serve honeydew slices with prosciutto ham and wow your guests with this excellent appetizer.
Around noon, the watermelons at Oasis Organics were almost sold out. Market-goers just couldn’t get enough of this sweet, summer fruit that is synonymous with summer.
“It’s been busy like this since we started carrying watermelons this month,” said Ruiz, of the red, seedless variety priced at $6 each.
Believed to have originated in the Kalahari Desert of Africa, watermelons now come in an assortment of shapes and sizes, including square ones from Asia. However, the seedless, round or oblong ones are still the most popular, according to Ruiz.
Brimming with vitamins A and C, this incredibly healthy fruit is grown in 44 states with California among the top growers.
To find out if the watermelon is ripe, tap it and if you hear a hollow sound, it should be ripe. They are still best refrigerated or stored in a very cool place.
For the freshest picks, get your watermelons between May and August.
The Calabasas Farmers Market is open from 8 am to 1 pm every Saturday at 23504 Calabasas Road, across the street from the Sagebrush Cantina.