Eating Through the Seasons

By Alison Einerson

It’s melon season!

My grandfather was a wonderful gardener. From melons to tomatoes to sky-high corn, he could grow it all beautifully. One of my earliest and best memories of summer at my grandparents’ home was picking a perfectly vine-ripe cantaloupe and bringing it in for Gram to slice. My grandpa was also, incidentally, a black pepper fanatic. I never knew people ate cantaloupe that wasn’t salt-and-peppered until I was in my 20s. To this day, it’s how I enjoy it. I guess that’s why cantaloupe is so fantastic when it’s wrapped with a razor thin, slightly salty, slice of prosciutto. Then again, what isn’t?

September is truly melon season in Utah. Here you can find an incredible selection of melons including Crenshaw, Canary, cantaloupe, yellow watermelon, honeydew, Israeli and more. This is a fruit that brings people out in droves to the farmers markets, as locally grown fresh melon is nearly unbeatable!

What to do with a partialy eaten watermelon that’s too large for fridge: Blend it! You can add mint or basil and a bit of salt. Leave plenty of headspace in the jars.

While you’re eating your melons, consider this: The rind, too, is edible. In some recipes, you can substitute it for cucumbers. Watermelon rind contains a potent natural vasodilator, which relaxes arteries and improves blood flow, and can lower blood pressure in people with prehypertension.

Buying organic is always wise. How­ever, watermelon is one of the “clean 15.” Unlike the “dirty dozen,” fruits and vegetables that easily absorb pesticides and chemicals, the “clean 15” have tough exteriors that prevent significant chemical contamination.

Green River Melon Days

For those who want to truly appreciate the glory of the melon, head down to Green River, Utah for their Melon Days Festival. It’s held on September 18-19 this year and features an old-fashioned pancake breakfast, the Melon Days Parade, a softball tournament and, naturally, tons of fresh juicy watermelon to eat and let drip right down your shirt (don’t wear white!).

Eat Local Challenge prep

While shopping at your local farmers market, make sure to stock up on locally grown produce, meats, cheeses and goods in preparation for Eat Local Week, September 12-19. It’s a fantastic way to challenge yourself to learn more about where our food comes from, who is growing and producing it and how we can all cut down on our “food miles.”

At markets and farm stands in September:

Green beans • Beets • Broccoli • Cabbage • Carrots • Celery • Chard • Collard greens • Corn • Cucumbers • Eggplant • Fennel • Garlic • Herbs (fresh) • Kale • Kohlrabi • Leeks • Microgreens • Onions • Peppers • New potatoes • Shallots • Spinach • Summer squash/zucchini • Tomatoes • Turnips • Berries • Blackberries • Blueberries • Early apples • Grapes • Melons • Nectarines • Peaches (white and yellow) • Plums • Raspberries

Markets around the Salt Lake Valley:

Harvest Market at Pioneer Park

Thanksgiving Point Farmers Market

University of Utah Farmers Market

Gardner Village Farmers Market

Downtown Farmers Market at Pioneer Park (SLC)

Sugar House Farmers Market

9th West Farmers Market

Bountiful Farmers Market

USU Botanical Center Market

Park City Farmers Market

Park Silly Sunday Market

Benson Grist Mill Historic Market

Wasatch Front Market at Wheeler Farm

For locations, times, start dates and more locations, visit utahsown.org.

This article was originally published on August 30, 2015.