If the taste and fragrance of a fresh slice of melon makes your mouth water, you are in good company.

Melons have been a favorite fruit for many centuries and they appear in Egyptian tomb paintings dated to 2400 B.C. Melons are a good source of potassium and vitamin C and the orange fleshed varieties like cantaloupe have exceptional amounts of beta carotene.

Deciding which melon to buy is not an easy task. Traditional methods of thumping and shaking have not been proven to be accurate. It is important to know that melons will not ripen further once they have left the vine. Growers pick them when they are ripe but still firm to protect them from bruising during shipping. However some melons are picked too early and will never be sweet and juicy.

Unless a melon is cut, the only clue to ripeness is the condition of the rind. Since each melon has its own characteristics, there are only a few general rules that apply to all melons. They should be symmetrically shaped, and free of cracks, soft spots or dark bruises.

While ripe melons may be firm, slight softness is a good sign but melons should not be spongy or “soggy.” A fruity fragrance is a clue to the maturity of most melons but there may be no sweet odor if the melon has been chilled, and some melons have no aroma even when ripe.

There have been recent foodborne illness outbreaks such as salmonella associated with melons and other fresh produce. The FDA continues to recommend consumers take the following steps with produce to reduce the risk of foodborne illness:

Purchase produce that is not bruised or damaged. If buying fresh cut produce, be sure it is refrigerated or surrounded by ice.

Fresh produce should be refrigerated within two hours of peeling or cutting. Leftover cut produce should be discarded if left at room temperature for more than two hours.

Wash hands often.

Wash all fresh fruits and vegetables with cool tap water immediately before eating. Don’t use soap or detergents. Scrub firm produce, such as melons and cucumbers, with a clean produce brush. Cut away any bruised or damaged areas before eating.

During food preparation, wash cutting boards, utensils or dishes that have come into contact with fresh produce, raw meat, poultry, or seafood. Do not consume ice that has come in contact with fresh produce or other raw products.

Use a cooler with ice or use ice gel packs when transporting or storing perishable food outdoors, including cut fresh fruits and vegetables.

Fruit Slush

  • 2-2/3 cups cantaloupe or watermelon (coarsely chopped, seeded, peeled)
  • 1-2/3 cups kiwi (coarsely chopped, optional)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 cups water
  • Ice

In a blender, puree fruit with sugar and lime juice until smooth. Combine fruit mixture and water in a large pitcher.

If desired, pour through a strainer to eliminate pulp. To serve, stir well and pour into glasses over ice.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 60 calories, 0 g fat, 24 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 24 mg sodium.

Recipe from: Oregon State University Cooperative Extension

Cami Wells is an Extension Educator for Nebraska Extension in Hall County. Contact her at (308) 385-5088 or at cwells2@unl.edu. Visit the Hall County website at www.hall.unl.edu

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