11 Apr2006

Green Melons

by Marketman

amel1

The Japanese seem to have this unique fascination with melons. A favored dessert after either an elaborate or simple Japanese meal, melons seem to have achieved a bizarrely elevated position in the fruit hierarchy in Japan and South Korea. They sell melons (and other fruit) in their groceries that go for more than USD100 a piece and more common melons might run you USD20-30 a piece! I also read once about their experiments with creating square watermelons (by growing them in forms) so that they would be easier to pack and ship… At any rate, their horticulturists have been busy over the past century or so developing new varieties or hybrids from existing melons from around the globe. I haven’t done extensive research but the sought after melons in Japan seem to have a very noticeable and stunningly beautiful webbing or netting on their outer skin or rind. Of course the melons must also be juicy, flavorful and sweet.

I saw this stunning green melon at the market last Saturday (along with lots of other melons and cantaloupes that are nearing the peak of melon season) and amel2the vendor said they were “Japanese” melons but grown here. I am always wary now when a vendor says something is Japanese as they are often totally clueless, see my post on Japanese tomatoes… I purchased one of these melons which looks very similar to those vaunted Cavaillon melons from France and took it home and placed it on my counter. Contrary to what most folks think, melons do NOT get riper once they have been cut from the vine. They might get juicier but they don’t get any sweeter so leaving them out to “ripen” really means you are simply waiting for them to get juicier… thus the best melons come directly from conscientious growers who harvest them at the peak of their ripeness. Sliced open, this melon was fragrant, juicy and sweet. Not the absolute best honey dew (as opposed to orange cantaloupe) I have ever had but a very good melon indeed. At PHP120 a kilo, this little baby cost PHP150 or so and would yield maybe 10 modest slices.

I often find that locally grown melons have an off flavor or simply lack character. Many times they taste of soil which is really off-putting. I thought it was just a amel3matter of dirt on the skin of the melon that you taste when you cut it but even after washing the melons it still has this excessively earthy taste. Other times the melons are totally watery and lack flavor. Occasionally, you run across a stunning melon and when that happens I buy several and make juice or just eat them plain but chilled. The fact that this green melon, which was locally grown, was very good, seems to suggest that we just need the right seeds and take care to ensure the proper growing conditions and harvest protocols. I will be having the remaining slices with some really thinly sliced prosciutto di Parma in the days ahead…yum!

 

COMMENTS:

  1. Wilson Cariaga says:

    Nothing beats the summer with melon jiuce or shake, I also love homemade melon sherbet, it is really really refreshing. also melons in salads, I remember a salad which contains papaya, melons, prawns, thin slices of onions plus watercress tossed in white vinegar, garlic and wasabi dressing, its really good. . .

    Apr 11, 2006 | 7:24 am

     
  2. marga says:

    Our Japanese friend gave us a melon that looks exactly like the one you pictured. He was very careful in telling us that it was “special” and that it costs a lot too. Indeed it was even packaged in such a way that it looked like a giant egg in a nest. I had my misgivings at first because everytime we buy honeydew melon ( the one that has white smooth skin ) it is ALWAYS tastless just like eating radish. Going back to our Melon, indeed it was as sweet as honey and soooo succulent. I thought I was in heaven. No wonder he kept on telling us to enjoy every bit of it and indeed we did. That’s why it cost a lot too.

    Apr 11, 2006 | 12:00 pm

     
  3. patanj says:

    I miss the soft-fleshed melon tagalog which my ‘apu’made into the most refreshing drink during my childhood in Pampanga. If I remember right, we had it only during the height of summer. I’ve been searching desperately for it here in Manila but so far I’ve only seen it Pampanga. Odd!

    Apr 11, 2006 | 1:18 pm

     
  4. relly says:

    GMORNING MR.MM,
    I love the combination of thinly slice prosciuto or dried ham and melon. As a first course.. and also you might find in every houses you’ll be invited the Melon/portwine first course too.
    But most i love is the melon juice.

    Apr 11, 2006 | 4:01 pm

     
  5. Bay_leaf says:

    someone once told me that melon should be eaten alone, not with other fruits.

    but the combo with the Parma prosciutto is just fab.

    Apr 11, 2006 | 5:43 pm

     
  6. lori says:

    Gorgeous cover shot. I personally stay away from melons not because I don’t like them but because I always have bad luck choosing them. I always end up buying melons that taste like nothing — literally!

    Apr 11, 2006 | 7:14 pm

     
  7. fried-neurons says:

    Prosciutto and melon… a match made in heaven!

    I prefer honeydew over cantaloupe myself.

    Apr 11, 2006 | 11:11 pm

     
  8. Mandy says:

    my fiance who doesn’t eat melon, got to taste that japanese melon and he’s been raving about it ever since. he said that there’s another one that tastes even better–it has a red-colored flesh(?). hope they start growing them here too!

    Apr 12, 2006 | 10:31 am

     
  9. rina says:

    i miss that melon tagalog too! it had a texture and colour closer to wintermelon the the taste was just so delicate and refreshing when it’s made into a drink. i think the reason that its only found in the central luzon area (pampanga, nueva ecija, bulacan) and not in manila is that it doesn’t take well to farm-market roads. it either bruises easily or cracks open entirely, making it hard to sell in the markets.

    Apr 12, 2006 | 11:29 am

     
  10. Marketman says:

    I have seen that melon tagalog on at roadside stands on drives up North but I too have not tried it…will have to try some the next time I see it.

    Apr 17, 2006 | 2:45 pm

     
 

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