BY DEBRA J. MORRIS
Melons mean that summer is here and there are many varieties from which to choose at your local farmers’ market. From the familiar watermelon, honeydew, and cantaloupe to the Santa Claus and Persian melons, you’ll find varieties you most likely won’t find at the supermarket.
But the casaba melon, with its unique-looking shape and texture will be one you want to try. It is a variety of muskmelon that belongs to the winter melon group. This is not an indicator of their growing season, but rather their hardiness and long shelf-life. Its thick, bright yellow rind is filled with shallow furrows running end to end. The shape is round, but with a pointed end. The juicy flesh is a creamy pale green to pale yellow and is mildly sweet with nuances of cucumber and pear.
Casaba melons are a good source of vitamin C, B6, and folate. They also supply minerals such as choline, potassium, and magnesium. Purchase when the color is a nice yellow with greenish yellow furrows. Be sure to clean the melons under running water as their deep exterior grooves can sometimes hold dirt and debris. Once peeled, the cubed flesh may be used similarly to other muskmelon.
As with most melons, its mild flavor pairs well with cheeses, cured meats such as prosciutto or salami, and other summer fruits. The puréed flesh can be added to cold soups, smoothies, sorbets, sauces and cocktails. Toss casaba melon with other melons for a fruit salad, add to the grill for some great caramelized flavor, or just grab a big slice and dig in!
You’ll find just-picked casaba melons at Cipponeri Farms out of Turlock. They also offer Tuscan cantaloupe, honeydew, and the lovely yellow watermelon. J&J Ramos Farms from Hughson also has casabas and other melon varieties. These fresh melons are some of the best around, grown by your farmers and delivered to the market for you to enjoy. Why shop anywhere else?
Casaba Cucumber Salad
1 medium canary or casaba melon (cantaloupe or honeydew; any melon with dense, sweet flesh will do)
2 English or Persian cucumbers
3 tablespoons finely chopped mint
Juice from 3 limes
Freshly ground pepper, optional
Cut the flesh of the melon away from the rind, and chop into 1 inch square pieces. Slice off the skins from the cucumbers, then cut them in half lengthwise, and chop them into roughly ½-inch thick slices. Toss the melon and cucumber pieces together with the mint and lime juice. Let marinate in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
Recipe: PCFMA Staff
August 5th through 11th is National Farmers’ Market Week, a time when we pause to thank the farmers whose hard work comes to fruition in the produce you find at your farmers’ market. We also want to thank you, the customers and community, for supporting your local farmers’ market.