Monday, August 15, 2011

Do Muskmelons Grow in Wellfleet?

The answer to that question is YES! I wish you could smell the honey-like aroma in our kitchen. Today marks the first breakfast at which we will serve muskmelon, from the garden.

“How can you tell when a muskmelon is ripe?” I asked Tracy Plaut while she gave me a massage today.

“I’ve never grown muskmelons,” Tracy said, which was surprising because there’s pretty much everything else in her vegetable garden at Mac’s.

I repeated the question to Sharyn Lindsay, organizer of Wellfleet’s farmers' market.

“Some people say when you shake it, and hear movement? Others say, by the smell. Maybe give them another week?”

I have a lousy sense of smell, so that would not be my method.

“How can you tell when a muskmelon is ripe?” I asked Beverly Calistini at Sonflowers Garden Center.

“Mostly by smell,” Beverly said. “And the melon will come off the vine relatively easy. If it clings tenaciously, it could be saying ’Not Yet.’

Then I Googled and found a ton of information from Garden Web: ”Muskmelon and Galia types are easy to tell when they are ripe because the fruit pulls off easily or ‘slips’ from the vine. They should be harvested at full ‘slip’ when the ground color under the net starts to turn yellowish.”

Actually, I’ve been watching for ripeness for several weeks. In France, I learned to choose the best melons de Cavaillon, at the market, by checking the top, where a bit of the stem should still be attached. If there’s a slight gap between the stem and the fruit, the melon will be ripe.

I checked OUR melon yesterday morning and noticed it was beginning to crack. Yikes! Not a good sign. When I lifted it up, it “slipped” right off the vine.

A water bug scuttled out of the crack as I harvested our first muskmelon. Would it taste okay, I wondered? Yes! Check out Sven enjoying a slice at lunch. I sprinkled mine with salt. Also, I love melon with port, the way we used to serve it in France. Thank you to my sister-in-law. Betsy Krogh, who planted the melons for me back at the end of May, and bon appetit!

How do you prefer your melon, sliced, cubed, au naturel, with port, with salt? Any other wild melon preferences?