Home Posts tagged 'watermelon'

Posts Tagged ‘watermelon’


Simon

Late Summer Mouthwatering Melons

Vacation is defiantly the highlight of the summer months; for some of us, fresh-picked summer fruit is a close second.  In June we had fresh local sweet red cherries, July saw big, juicy yellow peaches, and in August mouthwatering melons.   Everyone has a fruit from their childhood that screams summer – for me hands down it’s watermelons! Unfortunately, for most of my youth I only knew watermelons, Cantaloupe, and Honeydew. Luckily at Bi-Rite Markets, we spend a majority of the late-summer months celebrating all the mouthwatering, vine-ripe melons that come from our favorite local farms, with anywhere from 7 to 10 varietals on our shelves at any given time!

OrchidwatermelonFull Belly Farm is nestled in the heart of Yolo County and they grow a wide range of organic veggies, fruit and flowers.  Melons happen to be one crop that they love to grow, and it shows in their flavor and texture.  Each week we order up to 5 different varieties (each with something unique to offer) to share with our guests and let our chefs get creative in the kitchens with their melon salads. The Orchid watermelon makes heads turn: at first glance it looks like your everyday watermelon, but when you crack this bad boy open a bright yellow/orange flesh brightens your day.  It’s a very juicy melon with a sweet sherbet-like flavor.

SharlynwcaptionFor folks who prefer a cantaloupe-like variety give the Sharlyn melon a try. This cantaloupe/ honeydew hybrid has a soft light-orange flesh and nicely balanced sweet/floral flavor.  It will take any fruit salad to the next level of goodness.  The green-fleshed Galia melon is a muskmelon hybrid with a succulent flesh and a sweet tropical flavor.  Full Belly just started harvesting the Canary melon.  The bright yellow skin almost looks like a winter squash, but once you cut it open the pineapple/banana aroma takes over.  The flavor of this melon is a balance of pairs well with ginger, citrus and pretty much all other summer fruit! Sweet/tangy and the crisp flesh!

PielDelSapoHappy Boy Farms located just in the heart of Watsonville is known for their greens and tomatoes, but their melon game has been on point the past five years.  The two melons they are growing right now might be the best of the season and easily the most interesting.  The Piel De Sapo “Toad Skin” melon is football shaped with a bright green-yellow striped skin.  Its visual appearance defiantly stands out, and the extra-sweet and smooth flesh with a little bit of crunch is what makes it a Bi-Rite Staff favorite.  The Charentais melon is a gourmet French variety that’s been farmed for over 100 years.  Usually the size of a grapefruit, the Charentais has a tan-green skin with dark-green seams when perfectly ripe.  Don’t let this melon fool you, the uglier it get the better is tastes.  The aroma that comes off this melon is almost as enjoyable as the rich, sweet flavored orange flesh.  This is the ideal melon to wrap in prosciutto.

The past couple years we’ve even dialed in our melon growing on the Bi-Rite Farm in Sonoma.  Since we work directly with a handful of local farms that grow delightful melons, we’ve decide to grow more unique varieties on our farm.  The Ginkau melon is a small, oval shaped Korean melon with a golden skin and crispy, smooth white flesh.  The Lambkin melon is an early Peil De Sapo variety with very sweet, crisp white flesh.  Later this month will be harvesting the Crane melon which originated in Sonoma County and is a super sweet, fine flavored melon.MelonLineup

How to Pick and Store your Melons:
One of the main reasons we buy our melons straight from local farms is that they let the melons ripen on the vine, and pick them at the prefect level of ripeness. Most of the larger farms grow varieties that can handle being shipped long distances and are harvested early, before the sugars have fully developed.  At the Bi-Rite there’s always a melon that’s ripe and ready to eat.

Picking out the perfect melon can be a challenge. For muskmelons and other specialty varieties, smell the butt-end of the melon were the stem was attached and if it has a sweet and/or floral scent its ready.  Also, when you are looking at a display of specialty melons the ones that have brighter color skin coming are ready (usually the greener skin indicates a less ripe melon).

These techniques do not work for watermelons – it’s much harder to pick a ripe watermelon.  Try tapping on the side of the watermelon and if it sounds hollow when you tap, it’s ready (a not hollow sound usually means it’s unripe).  Your best bet is to ask the produce clerk which watermelon tastes best! If you purchase a melon that is ripe and ready to eat, either take it to the park and eat that moment or take it home and put it in the fridge for a few hours to chill the flesh before you eat it.  When you bring a melon home that is still a bit green, let is sit on the counter at room temp until it ripens up.  If you’re not ready to eat your ripe melon store it in the fridge.  However, watermelons store best at room temp. Cold temperatures can turn the flesh of watermelon to mush!


Simon

We’re Mad for Summer Melons

We can’t get enough of sweet summer melons and this glorious sunshine!  Now you can share our house-made Watermelon Salad with Queso Frescoavailable daily from our delis – with friends near and far.  Simple, refreshing, delicious, it’s sure to impress at your picnics and barbecues.  Enjoy!

Watermelon Salad with Queso Fresco


Stephany

Cool as a Cucurbit: Cucumbers & Melons

The cucurbits (or cucurbiticae) are a plant family that includes cucumbers, melons and gourds of many kinds. They peak in sweetness and flavor during the summertime. At Bi-Rite we’re lucky to work with a number of local farms that grow unusual heirloom varietals in this family.

A few of my favorites:

Armenian cucumbers, which are botanically considered a melon. We have been getting the ‘Painted Serpent’ varietal, which is long and snakelike, with dark and light green stripes, from Full Belly Farm, Oak Hill Farm and County Line Harvest. You can use these like the more common English cucumber. The skin is very thin and not at all bitter, and the seeds are not yet formed, so no need to peel or seed–just slice them right up. They don’t need to be rock hard; the ones that are a bit bendy will still be crisp. Armenian cucumbers will make the prettiest garnish for your summer gin and tonic.

Lemon cucumbers are small, round and yellow with large but tender seeds. They’re great for slicing into salads, and make beautiful sandwich-sized pickles. They’re lovely sliced up and dressed with a little soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar or lime juice and a pinch of sugar or honey, perhaps over some arugula or baby lettuces.

Watermelons, in mini and huge, seeded, seedless, yellow and red varietals. Orchid and Yellow Doll are two of the yellow-flesh varietals we get from Full Belly Farm. These should be picked when they are ripe and do not really keep ripening like muskmelons do. They should be firm and feel heavy for their size, although there is no surefire way to tell if they are ripe.

Muskmelons have netted skins and get very fragrant when ripe. These include cantaloupes, galia and goddess melons. These will smell very sweet and floral as they ripen, and can get a bit soft (though they shouldn’t be squishy). The more fragrant the stem end is, the sweeter the melon will be.

Recipes!

SaladGoodCucumber Melon Salad with Feta & Olives

This isn’t so much a recipe as a useful guide. Try using what you have and taste as you go. It’s a bit of a riff on a Greek salad and a wonderfully refreshing addition to a barbecue or summertime supper.

  • A mix of your favorite melons, cut into large dice. I like watermelon, galia, cantaloupe & piel de sapo or snow leopard.
  • A mix of your favorite cucumbers, diced or sliced as you like. I like Painted Serpent Armenian cukes and lemon cukes.
  • Red onion or scallions, thinly sliced. I soak the red onion after slicing in cold water for a few minutes to take the edge off, which also sets the color and prevents it from bleeding into the salad.
  • A nice feta, not too salty. Our French feta is the perfect balance of tangy and salty.
  • Kalamata or another fruity olive, pitted. I usually cut them in half, but they can be whole or cut into rings.
  • Fresh herbs. Cilantro and mint are great, but parsley, basil and chives all work. I would recommend to staying away from herbs that are too woody or heavy like thyme and rosemary. Fresh, bright herbs work better to highlight the delicate flavors in the melons. I like to chiffonade them (stack up the leaves, roll into a tight “cigar”, and slice into thin ribbons), but you could chop them or pick the leaves and toss them in whole.
  • Fresh or dried coriander seeds, toasted until fragrant and lightly crushed.
  • Olive oil
  • Red wine vinegar or lime juice
  • Salt to taste

Toss everything together in a large bowl or arrange on a platter. Dress to taste with olive oil, red wine vinegar or lime juice and salt. A sprinkle of toasted, crushed coriander seeds wakes up all of the flavors. This salad is best dressed right before serving, though you could certainly do it ahead of time.

Cucumber Raita

Really popular all over India, this is somewhere between a salad and a condiment, and I often use it as both. Awesome in the summer next to grilled meats such as lamb or chicken, or dolloped on top of a sandwich or rice bowl. Also delicious with pita or Dosa chips as a dip!

  • 1-2 cucumbers, unpeeled, shredded on a coarse grater.
  • 1 cup greek yogurt (you could use regular plain yogurt, but it will be less thick).
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds.
  • Salt, sugar, lime juice to taste.

Place the shredded cucumbers in a bowl, salt them and set aside for a few minutes. The salt will draw out the water. Squeeze as much of the water out as you can – a lot will release! Mix it up with some gin and tonic water and have yourself a cocktail, or discard. Place the drained cucumber in a bowl.

Add yogurt to drained cukes and stir. Heat up a small pan over medium to high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of neutral-flavored oil such as canola. When the oil is hot, drop in the cumin seeds. The seeds will darken in color and get really fragrant. Dump the spice oil into the yogurt mixture (this is a technique used commonly in India to quickly add lots of flavor to any dish by making a spice oil, called a tarka). Stir it around, season to taste with salt, lime juice and a pinch of sugar for balance.

Melon Agua Fresca

Again this is less of a recipe and more of guide. The proportions will vary depending on the fruit being used.

Cube up your melon and place it in a blender. Add a handful of sugar (or a squeeze of honey or agave) and cover with water. Blend until smooth. Add more sweetener to taste if necessary, or a squeeze of lime to perk it up. Super refreshing with basil or mint added!


Matt R.

Featured Summer Cocktail: What-a-Melon No. 3

HEhrmannNothing really screams, ‘Summertime!’ like peak-of-the-season fresh watermelon! Juicy, and dripping with sweetness, freshly-sliced watermelon is a natural addition our Featured Summer Cocktail, the What-a-Melon No. 3, H. Joseph Ehrmann‘s take on a classic Margarita.

H. Joseph Ehrmann is a 3rd generation Mixologist, barkeep, and owner of Mission District neighborhood saloon, Elixir. He’s gifted at integrating California seasonal produce into well-balanced cocktails that maintain a saloon-like feel. His What-a-Melon No. 3 is a blend of Tequila, watermelon, mint, lime juice, agave, and St. Germain Elderflower liqueur. It’s summery, refreshing, and the perfect refreshment on a sunny afternoon!

WhatAMelon

Espolon Blanco Tequila  –  $27.99
Epsolon
Espolon is 100% Blue Agave based Tequila from the Los Altos region of San Jalisco. Tequilas from the Highlands (Los Altos) tend to have sweeter aromas and more floral components compared to more herbaceous qualities found in Tequilas from the lowlands. The Espolon’s smooth texture and round finish make this a Tequila that’s sippable on the rocks, or mixed into your favorite Tequila-based cocktail.

 

St. Germain Liqueur  –  $37.99
StGermain
St. Germain is a truly special liqueur infused and distilled with wild-foraged elderberry flowers. Each Spring, the wild blossoms are foraged fresh from the Alps, often delivered on bicycle by individuals harvesting on their own. The fresh flowers are then gently pressed, extracting the light floral and tropical qualities without any of the bitterness associated with using frozen or freeze-dried flowers. St. Germain has enticing floral aromas and a lightly sweet quality that can be used in a variety of cocktails, from the classic combination of sparkling wine, St. Germain, and club soda to H. Joseph’s summery What-a-Melon No. 3!

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