Week 13: Everything is Coming Up Melons
Whew, what a month. The Moutoux crew totally crushed it and all of the fall planting is done! You can see the beautiful greens coming in nicely in the far eastern plots behind the barn. If you can, try to periodically walk back and see the growing season progress. It is a special gift to have the opportunity to witness your food grow before your very eyes; the labor put in, the beauty of the forthcoming bounty and the delicious meals to come. Moutoux Orchard CSA brings a whole new meaning to ‘Know Your Farmer.’
The farm is overloaded with spaghetti squash from a fantastic crop yield this year. These squash don’t store too long due to the heavy water content, so the season is short. Spaghetti squash has a mild flavor and pairs beautifully with all of the summer veggies. Mix it with sautéed peppers topped with sausage. Or whip up a tomato sauce and call it pasta. Check out the 2019, Week 16 blog post that highlighted spaghetti squash. Eat it up while you can!
Another 2020 gift is all of this melon! Typically the cantaloupe ripen and get harvested about 2 weeks before the watermelon is ready to go. And the watermelon typically ripens in 3 harvesting rounds. Not this year… add that one to the 2020 bucket of fun. All of the cantaloupe and watermelon flushed at the same time in one huge harvest! We have 3 types of low-seed watermelon this year – Mini Love (round, small with stripe), Strawberry Watermelon (light green, oddly shaped heirloom variety) and Sugar Babies (round, dark green). Aside from chopping up and eating them right then and there, melons have so many great uses. Many being wonderful ice cold desserts to get us through the summer heat.
Let’s talk granita and sorbet - the perfect way to highlight melons. Sorbet is fairly smooth and soft, and granita is fluffy and crunchy. You can also add slushy as the drinkable version and Italian ice (‘water ice’ to you Philadelphians) in between granita and sorbet in terms of smoothness. Italian ice and granita are basically the same thing but with differing SIZE of the ice crystals. As with everything, there is chemistry involved but we don’t need to go down that rabbit hole. We recommend reading The Science of the Best Sorbet by Max Falkowitz of Serious Eats if you want to geek out a little and know how it all works (or doesn’t work). But we aren’t on Top Chef and no one is judging your skills! So go make some mellon-y goodness because Everything is Coming Up Melons!
1 pound, 5 ounces peeled, diced and seeded watermelon or cantaloupe
3 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 Tbsp vodka
9 ounces sugar, approximately 1 ¼ cups
Taste the melon. The 9 ounces of sugar is the maximum amount you will need for a less-than sweet melon. If your melon is flavorful and sweet, your recipe won’t require as much sugar.
Place the melon in the bowl of a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Add the lemon juice, vodka, and sugar and process for another 30 seconds. Place the mixture into the refrigerator until the mixture reaches 40 degrees F; depending on the temperature of your ingredients and refrigerator, this could take 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Pour the chilled mixture into the bowl of an ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer's directions. Transfer the sorbet to an airtight container and place in the freezer for 3 to 4 hours before serving.
CANTALOUPE ITALIAN ICE
½ cup sugar
½ cup water
10 ice cubes
1 cantaloupe, peeled, seeded and cut into pieces (about 4 cups)
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
Make the sugar syrup. In a small, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the sugar and water and heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, pour into a heatproof bowl and stir in the ice cubes. Continue stirring until the sugar syrup is cold, about 1 minute. Discard any ice that does not melt. You will have about 1 1/4 cups sugar syrup.
Make the base. In a food processor, combine the cantaloupe, lemon juice and sugar syrup. Pulse a few times until the cantaloupe is broken up and then process until a smooth puree forms, about 1 minute.
Freeze. Pour the cantaloupe mixture into a 9-inch square stainless-steel pan or heavy glass dish. Freeze until the mixture is just frozen, about 1 hour. Using a fork, stir the mixture to break up the ice crystals into a slushy texture. Continue breaking up ice every 45-60 minutes or so with a fork for about 3 to 4 hours.
Scoop the Italian ice into individual glasses or bowls and serve.
Notes: Serves 8. Look for a cantaloupe with even netting on the skin and no soft spots. A ripe cantaloupe will have a sweet smell and the stem end will give slightly when pressed. If you can find only an underripe melon, place it in a paper bag on your countertop for 2 or 3 days.
1/3 to ½ fresh watermelon, rind removed, sliced, and cut into cubes
½ cup sugar
1 slice of lime
Place all ingredients in a blender. Blending for about 30 to 60 seconds.
Pour mixture into a baking pan. Lay flat inside a freezer and freeze overnight.
Next day, take a fork and scrape the entire frozen mixture.
Serve (in a fancy glass if you're fancy).
1 cup watermelon washed, quartered, de-seeded, and lightly crushed
1 cup sugar
1 cup red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
Place fruit in bowl. Cover with sugar and stir.
Cover and store in refrigerator until juice exudes from fruit and starts to combine with sugar to form syrup. This may take only 5 or 6 hours, or it may need a couple of days. A longer maceration won't harm anything, so feel free to leave it in fridge longer than it might need.
Strain syrup from fruit. Press lightly on solids to express any remaining juice/syrup. Scrape remaining sugar into syrup.
Add vinegar and whisk to combine
Pour through funnel into clean jar or bottle. Cap and shake vigorously, and mark date on bottle. Store in refrigerator.
Check periodically. Some sugar may remain undissolved for up to a few days. Shake to combine. After about a week, acids in juice and vinegar should dissolve sugar entirely.
To Use: Add 2-3 tablespoons to sparkling water and enjoy over ice. OR Add to vodka, tequila or a spirit of your choice to create a unique cocktail. Experiment!