Thursday, August 14, 2008

Eat Local Watermelon

I get my first watermelon of the season this week. Melons take a lot of heat, time, so it takes a good amount of summer to get local watermelon (although my wife interjects that the muskmelons so far have been incredible). Farmer Vicki promised me, in her weekly e-mail, something called Lamar, a seedless melon, and the best melon she has ever grown. I have a feeling she will be right. She usually is.

A lot of local foodies go ga-ga, not over Lamar, but over melons trucked in from the South and sold at the Baylor Melon Market. I am hesitant to throw too much criticism at the Baylor melons. The only time I tried one, at the LTHForum picnic a few years ago, the melons were unfortunately fermented. Still, I put my faith in Farmer Vicki, and I suspect that a certain amount of the Baylor allure stands for the specialness of the product, the transport via bus and the ties to historical agriculture. Then again, a lot of people like the Baylor melons. I want local.

From yesterday's CTrib:
Grower Chris Sutton, owner of Sutton Fruit and Vegetable in Kaufman County, Texas, says that your best bet is to buy local and in season. According to the National Watermelon Promotion Board, you should look for "a firm, symmetrical watermelon that is free of bruises, cuts or dents. When you see a nice-looking watermelon, pick it up and feel its heft; then pick up a few others of similar size to compare. At 92 percent water, a good melon should feel heavy for its size. Seeded varieties tend to be sweeter, Sutton said, "because the seed cavities cause it to be riper." How do you know a watermelon ripened on the vine? Easy: Turn the melon over and check for a creamy yellow spot. That's a sign that the watermelon sat on the ground and in the sun to ripen.

Does your melon have a creamy yellow spot?

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