By Judy Delperdang
Nothing says summer quite like a juicy melon. Whether your tastes run to ripe red (or yellow!) watermelon, or creamy cantaloupe, a melon can be just the thing to quench your thirst, fill you up, and satisfy your sweet tooth.
According to Healthy Harvest of North Iowa’s 2020 North Iowa Local Food Guide, melons are in season (https://www.healthyharvestni.com/guide/ ).
Watermelon is 92 percent water, which makes it a great option for hydration. And during the dog days of August, it’s important to stay hydrated.
It’s an important source of lycopene, a cancer-fighting antioxidant. Not surprisingly, it’s also rich in vitamin C and beta-carotene (which the body converts into vitamin A). These antioxidants may help strengthen the immune system, and who doesn’t want that?
At only 46 calories per cup, watermelon can be enjoyed by the slice, or in salads, smoothies, salsas, or a chilled summer soup.
Maybe you want a cantaloupe for your salads and smoothies.
At 90 percent water, and 60 calories per cup, cantaloupe is also a great choice for keeping hydrated. It has more beta-carotene than other orange/yellow fruit (as much as carrots!). And a cup of cantaloupe contains more than 100 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C.
A ripe cantaloupe should be symmetrical, feel slightly heavy, and be a creamy, light yellow-orange with little to no green. Ripe cantaloupe should smell sweet and a little musky.
A watermelon should be smooth and heavy for its size, with a large, creamy yellow “field spot.” The longer the watermelon is allowed to ripen in the field, the brighter and larger the spot.
Look for these summer fruits – and more – at the North Iowa Farmers Market from 4 pm until 6 pm on both Tuesdays and Fridays through October 18th.
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