What’s Cooking in Kelli’s Kitchen - Cantaloupe!

  • 2021-08-22, 05:56 PM
  • Kelli Kelly
What’s Cooking in Kelli’s Kitchen - Cantaloupe!

It is the most celebrated time of year for those of us in Fallon who love local produce: Cantaloupe season. 

The Fallon Melon Man is set up on the Reno highway most afternoons. We are all collectively counting down the days to our famous (or infamous) festival. And melons of all shapes, sizes, and colors are being harvested from Fallon’s fields. Ever since I had the honor of serving as the Cantaloupe Queen, I have cultivated a special love for Fallon melons--so I thought I would provide you with a guide to the melons you will find if you take a gander at a roadside stand, a farmers market, or visit one of the farms in our neighborhood.

But first, here are my answers to a couple of different questions that frequently pop up when I am discussing Fallon’s amazing melons. 

 

What is the difference between a cantaloupe and a muskmelon?

On the east coast of America and in Europe, the term “muskmelon” is used more frequently in the fruit lexicon. The simple answer is that all cantaloupes are muskmelons, but not all muskmelons are cantaloupes. The muskmelon category includes Santa Claus melons, honeydews, and Persian melons. Officially, a muskmelon is a Cucumis Melo, a species that is closely related to gourds as well as squash, cucumbers, and watermelon. Cantaloupes are one of two varieties of Cucumis Melo--either v. reticulatus (North Amercian) or v. cantalupensis (European). The North American variety has a distinctive netting on its skin and a milder flavor, while the European variety tends to be sweeter and has smoother light green skin.

 

Why are Fallon’s melons the best?

I believe that the vast majority of produce raised in Churchill County is tastier than produce raised in other growing regions. The answer is fairly simple--raising produce with limited water yields more flavorful fruits and vegetables. Melons are no exception. Our warm days and (generally) cooler nights, coupled with limited water and the use of modified dry-farming techniques cause our plants to concentrate sugars resulting in the most delicious produce you can find.

 

Which is the best melon?

While this is an extremely personal decision, I believe that orange-fleshed melons are superior to all other melons. But again, I am biased. So let’s leave it at this truism--a melon purchased from the people who grow them will always be better than a melon purchased in a conventional grocery store. So watch out for the orange pop-up and the truck with the “MELONS” license plate; stop in and visit Lattin Farms; drop by the roadside stand at Pick’n & Grin’n; or the farmers market tent at the Cantaloupe Festival and grab yourself some edible sunshine.

 

Here’s a handy list of melon varieties you might find in Fallon:

Sugar Cube - a small, personal-size cantaloupe sometimes called a French Breakfast melon. The sugar cube has tight netting covering its light brown skin. This variety has a low, musky, honey-like sweetness. Perfect to halve and fill with ice cream or to eat for breakfast.

Sarah’s Choice - this is the most prolifically-grown melon in the valley, larger than a sugar cube, with less-dense netting and some smooth skin. Sarah’s choice is the most popular melon amongst our farm share subscribers and is an all-around winner. This melon travels well, stores well, and is tasty.

Heart of Gold - Fallon’s most famous melon. The heart of gold is generally a small melon with creamy flesh and dense sugars. You can spot one easily by looking for the bright green ribbing that circles the skin alternating with dense webbing. The heart of gold is a melon that really should be eaten immediately after buying or harvesting. This heirloom variety is not meant to store or travel very far from the farm to your belly.

Crenshaw - The Crenshaw melon is not really a cantaloupe. But its creamy orange flesh can be easily confused once it has been peeled. The Crenshaw is shaped like a rugby ball; elongated but flat on both ends, and has bright yellow skin. This is my favorite melon. It is deliciously sweet, juicy, and creamy.

Santa Claus, Snow Leopard, Canary - These varieties fall into the muskmelon category. The Santa Claus (or Christmas) melon is large and shaped like a watermelon. Its skin is green-yellow and its flesh is crisp, mealy, and white. The Santa Claus is a later maturing melon that will hit the produce stand shelves later this month and can last through October. The Snow Leopard is a variety of honeydew with green-white skin and light green flesh. The Canary is a yellow football-shaped melon with crisp flesh and bright sweetness.

All of Fallon’s melons are beyond delicious. You can eat them one at a time or slice them all up on a fruit platter and compare flavors. 

Here is one of my favorite ways to celebrate Fallon’s melons: Fallon Melon Pico de Gallo. This recipe can be served as a topping for tacos, spooned over grilled fish, or as a sweet-savory cocktail with poached shrimp. Try cutting the melon into larger cubes and serving as a side salad.

 

Kelli’s Melon Pico de Gallo

INGREDIENTS:

Assorted Fallon melons (Chose a variety with different levels of sweetness and colors of flesh) - cut into either small or large cubes based on your purpose.

Red onions - diced

Farm Fresh Tomatoes - again, use a combination of different tomatoes highlighting their shape, color and flavor.

Cilantro - chopped

Jalapeno - fine dice

Limes - juice and zest

Olive Oil

Salt and Fresh Black Pepper

 

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine all ingredients and season to taste
  2. Ways to serve and enjoy:
    1. Small diced melon mix as a topping for tacos
    2. Eat with tortilla chips
    3. Puree a bit of the mix to make a tasty summer fruit gazpacho
    4. Serve with poached shrimp as a sweet-savory shrimp cocktail
    5. Large cubed melon as a side salad at a barbeque

 

Kelli Kelly

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