Health-conscious foodies know that eating foods when they are in season is an optimum way to nourish the spirit as well as the body.
If you are a serious fan of summer fruit, indulge yourself shamelessly by picking up a lemon drop melon whenever you find it.
A relative newcomer to the world of hybrid melons, the Lemondrop first started hitting the markets in the late 1990s.
Where to Find Them
Where can you find these little melony morsels of goodness? You may be able to find them in the supermarket produce section in larger urban areas.
People living in rural areas may be lucky enough to find them at the weekly farmers’ markets in smaller towns.
In either case, if you find a medium-size melon with a golden-yellow skin, a light brown netting, rather shallow grooves, and the name Kandi on the sign, you have just encountered a Lemondrop Melon.
Choosing the Best
Like most melons of this type, it will not get any riper after it has been harvested from the field. This is why it is important to take your time selecting the juiciest and ripest one at the time of purchase.
One relatively foolproof way to check the ripeness of a Lemondrop melon is to press the bottom, or blossom end, with your thumb.
If it yields slightly to the pressure, the melon is just right. If the end is hard or your thumb goes right through the skin with a “squish,” pass it by.
You can also shake the melon, and if you hear seeds rattling around inside, this is another indicator of ripeness.
Using the sniff test, you merely bring the melon close to your nose and if it smells melony, it will likely taste the same way.
These melons will remain edible for about a week when stored at room temperature. Cover cut melon with plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator for up to four days.
Lemondrop melon fans seldom have any leftovers, though.
Always in Good Taste
Like most smaller summer fruits of this kind, the Lemondrop melon is high in vitamin C but without the subtle acidic undertones in many other melons in its family.
It also lacks that flowery perfume you find in cantaloupes and other summer melons.
What it does have is the amazing sweet tang of ripe lemons, the flavor of lemon-drop candy which gave it its name.
The Scoop on Nutrition
Its tangy and succulent green flesh is a good indicator of the goodies it contains. One serving of Lemondrop melon will give you a healthy dose of vitamin A, potassium and B complex vitamins, according to http://www.nutritiondata.com.
What’s the big deal about vitamins A and C? You probably already know that vitamin A is good for skin and eye health and that vitamin C staves off scurvy.
Both of them also help your body fight off infection by keeping your immune system in peak operating condition. Research has shown that high consumption of foods rich in these two vitamins is associated with a lower risk of cancer, too.
The Lemondrop melon, like most fruits and vegetables, is fat-free and low in calories. One serving contains about 40 to 60 calories.
If you are trying to eat healthy by boosting your consumption of fruits and vegetables, this is one food you definitely want to include in your diet.
Like most melons, this one is also about 90 percent water. During the hot summer months when it seems you cannot drink enough water, a Lemondrop melon can help fight dehydration.
It also contains a high proportion of soluble and insoluble fiber, both of which can help lower LDL cholesterol.
Not only is a Lemondrop melon healthy, but it is also incredibly delectable to eat. Because of its lemony taste, it goes great with sweeter melons, mild greens such as lettuce, tangier greens such as arugula and radicchio, hot peppers, tomatoes, saltier cheeses such as feta and bleu, ham and bacon, herbs and nuts.
Eat it alone or include it in refreshing cold summer soups when it is 95 degrees outside and your air conditioning just is not doing its job.
Try using it in tasty salads in combination with fresh mint leaves like this: http://www.experimentalepicurean.com/?p=200, or eat it with prosciutto instead of honeydew for a variation on traditional Italian prosciutto con melon.
Walking on the Wild Side
For a truly heretical fruit salad, combine some sliced or diced Lemondrop melon with berries and pears topped with a savory cayenne-lemon-mint syrup, http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/melon-berry-pear-salad-with-cayenne-lemon-mint-syrup.
Just substitute Lemondrop melon for the honeydew melon in the recipe. The heretical part is the cayenne pepper, but do not worry. The heat from the cayenne will actually make you feel cooler on a sweltering day.
This is a little secret from Thailand where people like to serve their melons with something hot and spicy. It is a winning combination.
A simpler variation might be a squeeze of fresh lime juice, a sprinkling of chopped cilantro, a dash of hot pepper sauce and few grains of sea salt. You might try concocting a melon-based salsa using Lemondrop melon, cilantro and scallions to serve with a simply grilled chicken breast.
When a hot day leaves you feeling limp and unambitious at dinner time, whirl a few chunks of lemon drop melon with some ice cubes and a bit of sweetener in your blender to make a tasty icy drink that can double as dessert.
If you are feeling a little more ambitious, make your own lemon melon sorbet using one melon, fresh lemon juice, a little sugar, and fresh mint leaves as a garnish.
Healthy and Stealthy
You can also sneak more nutrition into your kids’ summer treats by making Lemondrop melon popsicles.
Whirl cubes of melon in the blender with water, a touch of honey and a splash of fresh lime juice, pour into molds and freeze until firm.
Or cut pieces of melon using a cute cookie cutter to make child-enticing finger food.
Get Ready to Pounce
If you are eager to try a Lemondrop melon by itself or in a recipe, you have to be ready to swoop down as soon as these appear in the market.
The season begins in early June and ends in early autumn.
They have a devoted fan base and tend to disappear from produce aisles in short order.
They are definitely worth the effort, both in terms of good nutrition and good taste.