Did you know that China is the world’s largest watermelon producer? Western China is THE place to grow melons!!
In the summer you can buy melons straight off the picking truck! The more common melons are Watermelons (xigua 西瓜), Hami Gua 哈密瓜(cantaloupe) and Tien Gua 铁南瓜(Honeydew). I have never tasted a fresher, sweeter melon than here in Xinjiang. During Melon season (May-June-July-August) we are inundated with melon trucks all over town. Right now the prices are pretty low – about 1-2 kuai per kilo. I can buy a large Watermelon for 6 kuai, which is less than a dollar! We buy a melon about every 2 days – and eat them all summer long. They are perfectly sweet, juicy and easy to eat! We love them best chilled in the fridge, if we can wait that long. They are also quite healthy – with high levels of Vitamin C, potassium, beta carotene, lycopene, fiber & B vitamins! …yet mostly water & sugar!
The Hami Melon (Hāmì guā哈密瓜) is famous here in Western China, originally from the city of Hami, in our beloved Xinjiang! In America, you would call it a Cantaloupe – with the peachy-orange flesh, and white/green rind. The bigger the melons are said to have a sweeter flavor. Melons taste best at room temperature, but they can keep for up to 3 weeks without refrigeration! Hami-gua melons now thrive in California!
How to choose the perfect melon
- Ask the grocer when they arrived
- Pick a large one, it should feel heavy for its size
- Check out the stem – should look newly picked
- Look for a yellowish “field spot” – area where the melon rested on the ground
- Avoid soft melons, and rinds with scars or bruises
- Avoid melons that are on the bottom of the stack
- Buy whole melons, not cut ones
Taking care of your melon
Uncut melons can be kept at room temp for up to three weeks. Once cut, melons can be hazardous food. Always refrigerate cut melon with saran wrap or in a sealed container for best quality. Do not eat cut melon after 2 hours being outside. Cut melon only lasts about 2-3 days in the refrigerator. Always toss if the flavor seems off.
Hope you are inspired to eat some delicious melons!! (or come visit us next summer!!)
(I wrote this post last summer....just catching up in 2010)