One of the great things about supporting small-scale farming is tasting the bounty of colorful varieties of heirloom fruits and veggies. In your TakeHome box this week, you will find an heirloom variety of melon, the Sun Jewel, fresh from the fields of Blue Moon Organics in Aptos, CA (Santa Cruz County). Lemon yellow with shallow white sutures, the Sun Jewels (Cucumis melo) look a bit like delicata squash. This is not surprising, as melons are closely related to the squash family. In taste, the Sun Jewel falls into its own category, tasting neither like neither cantaloupe nor musk, but has its own sweet and subtle flavor. Currently there are 35 basic melon varieties and seed archivists are rediscovering heirlooms like the unique Sun Jewel all the time. The history of melons is a bit obscure, but the Moors are credited with bringing them from Persia or Africa into Spain.
The Sun Jewel’s delicate flavor brings up many definitions. Greg Rawlings of Blue Moon says "I normally describe them as an Asian melon, because while they get sweeter with time they stay crisp like an Asian pear (vs. a regular pear)." He added, "As the Sun Jewels age the rind will split on the outside, ideal time to eat them is when there are numerous small splits down the rind." The FruitGuys like to add, you needn’t wait – they are delicious now. It may be hard for East Coast transplants to adjust to, but in California melons like the Sun Jewel are ready to harvest in the fall.
This season is extended this year due to a cool August. "We've had a late season so we'll have melons until November this year, as crazy as that sounds." says Greg. This melon is rich in vitamins C & A, so enjoy this healthy, flavorful treat at breakfast or as an afternoon snack. Cut up Sun Jewels into a fruit salad or try a tropical melon soup by puréeing one with coconut milk.