Valley Bounty: Watermelon

You’ll occasionally see pictures online of square watermelons grown in Japan. The melons are grown in special cubic molds and were originally intended to make the fruit easier to store and transport. Apparently, they’re sold more as a luxury than a utilitarian solution these days, with prices for square watermelons starting at the equivalent of $200 and scaling with the precision of the fruit’s shape.

You probably won’t find any square watermelons at your local farmers’ market. In fact, you’re unlikely to find watermelons that look like the kind you’d see in the grocery store, either; the large oblong varieties are grown in warmer climates, where they have longer growing seasons to reach their full size. Local watermelons are usually smaller varieties not much larger than a cantaloupe, and can have a variety of flesh colors, including red, yellow, orange, and green. Personally, I prefer the small watermelons, which are easier to manage in the kitchen and more convenient to pick up with other groceries.

Watermelon slices make a great light dessert on a warm evening, and watermelon salad with cucumber and feta is a staple of summer potlucks. There are even photos floating around online of smoked watermelon “ham” being served in a chic NYC restaurant, so perhaps a watermelon renaissance is on its way.

Valley Bounty is written by Brian Snell of CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture)