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Ingredient Wed Aug 20 2008

Melons, ripe and ready

butterscotch.jpgMelons take a while to come to market, biding their time in the fields and slowly ripening to a sugary crescendo. By August, they're ready to be pulled from the vine.

What should you look for in a melon? The answer depends on the type of melon.

Selling fruit at the farmers markets, I see people thump cantaloupe, smell watermelon, and poke at honeydew. More than any of that, though, I see people shrug and ask me to pick a melon for them.

It's understandable. One vendor may have a dozen melonsĀ -- or more!

Here's a primer:

What we call cantaloupes are a type of muskmelon. All cantaloupes are muskmelons, but not all muskmelons are cantaloupes. These melons should be fragrant, especially at the blossom end. Small cracks at the tip of the melon usually mean the melon is particularly sweet. If you leave a muskmelon on the counter, it will soften and the flavor will intensify, but it will not become sweeter.

Watermelons are a different beast entirely. Stash them in the fridge. There's no advantage to leaving them on the counter. I have eaten and sold a lot of watermelon and I'm still torn on the central watermelon questions of our day: Seeded or seedless? Red or yellow? Whichever you choose, the melon should feel heavy for its size. (Incidentally, did you know watermelon seeds can be roasted like pumpkin seeds?)

Then there is everything else we call a melonĀ -- honeydews, butterscotch melons (pictured), galias, sugarnuts, and any number of heirloom varieties. These melons are the cagiest of the bunch. As a rule, they're not fragrant, won't have any give at the tip and won't benefit from sitting at room temperature. Your best bet with these melons is to buy from a farm you trust.

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
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