CONCORD, CA (August 23, 2022) — Imagine finding a new variety of melon at your farmers market – not the usual watermelon or cantaloupe, but a lovely yellow melon with rippled rind. There’s also one that’s small, oval and green with white flesh.
You’ve just discovered one of the many reasons to shop your local certified farmers market: variety.
In August, we celebrate certified farmers markets and the value they bring to local communities. The unique varieties of melons and other fruits and vegetables you buy stimulate local economies, help preserve farmland, and increase access to healthy and nutritional food.
Farmers markets play an essential role in their communities by creating space for community connection and actively fostering more resilient and equitable local food systems.
At a certified farmers market, the produce comes to the market directly from the farm and from the growers themselves. Only California-grown produce may be certified for sale in our state’s farmers markets. When you find that unique melon at your certified farmers market, you know it’s locally grown in California and of high quality.
The most readily available melons in California are honeydew, watermelon and cantaloupe, but within these common melons are variations. For instance, watermelon can come in “refrigerator” size (small and round), or with bright yellow flesh.
Many specialty melons can only be found at your local certified farmers market, offering remarkable flavor, texture and color. Look for Crenshaw, Persian, Sharlyn, Santa Claus, Casaba and bittermelon, an Asian variety.
Myriad other varieties are also available this summer. Each has slightly different rind and flesh color, size and sweetness. Why not try them all?
Now that you’ve brought your melons home, here are some great ways to serve them:
Cantaloupe and prosciutto. The ever-popular cantaloupe wrapped with prosciutto is a sweet and salty bite. Or make a salad with cantaloupe chunks, prosciutto and mozzarella balls.
Melon and feta salad. Get yourself a melon baller, or just cut melons in cubes and toss with crumbled feta, pickled red onion, olive oil and lemon juice.
Melon Frozé. Simply blend melon and rosé wine.
Fruit pizza. Combine your favorite melon with ricotta cheese, topped with fresh arugula.
Watermelon ice pops. Blend the flesh with honey or sugar, water and lemon juice for a tasty treat on a hot summer day.
Cantaloupe soup. Served chilled, it’s refreshing and sweet.
Honeydew smoothies. Perfect for the kids after school, or make an adult beverage with a jigger of gin, rum or vodka.
Honeydew salad. Honeydew and cucumber go well together, so toss them with red onion and feta or other salty cheese for a quick side salad.
Melon and lox. Another sweet/salty appetizer is honeydew or casaba melon wrapped with thinly sliced lox.
Bittermelon options. While often overlooked as being too bitter, bittermelon is used in stews, stir-fries and soups in many cultures. Talk with your farmer for some great recipes.
There are many other ways to enjoy summer melons, but sometimes the easiest is the best – especially when you slice into a perfectly chilled melon. Visit J&J Ramos Farms and Resendiz Farms, both from Hughson, for just-picked, vine-ripened melons at your farmers market.
Visit Concord’s Farmers’ Market in Todos Santos Plaza on Tuesdays, 10AM to 2PM, year round. The Thursday market runs from 4PM to 8PM until the end of September.