Enjoying Summer-Fresh Melons

Summer wouldn’t be complete without savoring a nice, juicy piece of melon on a hot day. Whether eaten for breakfast, included in a salad, used in a chilled soup, or served as dessert, melon makes a delightful addition to any summer meal. There are dozens of types of melons, from cantaloupe to watermelon. But because watermelon is high in natural sugars, it should be avoided until Phase 3. You can enjoy all other types of melon starting on Phase 2. Here are a few tips about melons.

Melon Basics
Melons are members of the gourd family. Muskmelons have either netted skins (like cantaloupe, for example) or smooth skin (like honeydew), and a fibrous hollow center with seeds. They come in a variety of colors, including orange, yellow, and pale green. Although melons are available year-round, the sweet ones like cantaloupe and honeydew are in season primarily during the summer and early fall. Watermelons come seeded and seedless (which means they have just a few seeds) in more than 50 varieties. They’re available through September but are at their peak in late August (depending on where you live).

Buying and Storing Melons
When choosing a whole melon, look for one that is already ripe, has no dents or bruises, and is uniform in color. When buying a muskmelon, be sure to choose one that is slightly soft at the blossom end and has a distinctly sweet smell. Already cut melons should be brightly colored and juicy. Watermelons should sound hollow when thumped with the palm of your hand and be nicely shaped.

Underripe muskmelons will ripen at room temperature after a few days, or you can speed up the process by placing the melon in a brown paper bag. Ripe muskmelons should be stored in the refrigerator and used within 4 or 5 days of purchase. Once they’re cut, tightly wrap the leftover pieces and store them in a sealed container in your crisper drawer. A watermelon will keep whole in the refrigerator or in a cool, dry place for up to a week. Wrap cut pieces tightly, refrigerate, and eat within a day or so.

Enjoying Melons
You can enjoy a 1-cup serving of diced honeydew melon, cantaloupe, or another type of muskmelon, starting on Phase 2. To prepare, wash the melon and halve it with a sharp knife. Scoop out the seeds and cut the melon into slices, dice it, or use a melon baller. Once a melon is cut in half, leave the seeds intact until you intend to eat the melon, since the seeds protect the fruit from drying out.

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