The dog days of summer are approaching and the watermelons are ripe for picking. Hopefully, you are skilled at seed spittin’, because the seedless ones are mostly hybrids. They don’t have near the flavor as an heirloom variety. Amy Delvin, of Delvin Farms, recommends Sun Jewel, Honey Orange and Sugar Baby varieties. Her mom, Cindy, really loves the Sugar Babies best. This “icebox melon” is small and round, weighing well below 15 pounds. With a so dark green it’s almost black outside, the Sugar Baby is deep red and delicious on the inside.
Whichever variety you prefer, make sure to check for ripeness. Give it a good thump. Skip the duds with a dull thud and go for the drums!
The rinds make great pickles, but the juice is in the flesh!
Lycopene is what makes fruit red. Sharing the same hue as tomatoes, a watermelon can stand in for many of your favorite tomato dishes. Feta cheese, black olives, basil, red onions and a dash of balsamic vinegar are perfect companions in a Watermelon Greek Salad. Gazpacho doesn’t always have to be made with tomatoes. Watermelon is perfect for this Spanish classic. If you are not fond of painting with such daring shades of red, try brushing a few watermelon slices with olive oil and throwing them on the grill alongside shrimp kebabs.
Watermelon also makes great summer cocktails! First, the seeds must be removed by cutting along the seed line. The seedy flesh can be strained for that last little bit of juice. Transfer to a blender and go for the high setting. The end product should be liquid with very little pulp. This juice can then be refrigerated for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 6 months. Muddle mint with a squeeze of lime; add a splash of soda water and 2-4 oz. of your favorite spirit. Shake or stir with ice and watermelon juice for your very own hour of happy. White wine spritzers made with house made melon soda is a perfect Sunday Brunch alternative to mimosas. Then there are frozen drinks. Repeat after me….GRANITA!
Dependent upon how much rain Middle Tennessee gets, watermelons should get us through the final heat wave of summer! Don’t forget to save a few seeds from your favorite variety. Come next April, you can start your own watermelon patch. As September and cooler weather are just around the corner, watch for the pears and apples to wrap up the season. I feel a brandy making session coming on!
Meanwhile, try Corbin In The Dell’s Alternative Red:
|3 cups seeded and chopped watermelon
1 peeled and diced cucumber
1 yellow bell pepper diced
1 tbsp. of minced shallots
2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 small jalapeno minced
2 tbsp. cilantro finely chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste
|Mix together all ingredients except the cilantro in a large bowl. Let stand for 30 minutes for flavors to marry. Process all but one cup of the mixture in blender or food processor until a soupy consistency. If you do not have either, a potato masher should do the trick for processing. Stir in the reserved cup and 1 tablespoon of cilantro. Chill for at least one hour. Just before serving, sprinkle remaining cilantro and drizzle extra virgin olive oil to finish. This recipe may be refrigerated for up to four days. (Serves 4-6)|