Let’s Talk Food: Kiss melons now in season

  • Photo courtesy of AUDREY WILSON A sugar kiss melon.

  • Photo courtesy of AUDREY WILSON The author’s grandson, Quentin, enjoys a sugar kiss melon.

Kiss melons are in season right now and are absolutely delicious! Sometimes they are in netting, so you can tell they are different from other melons.

The honey kiss melon is officially called the “Honey Kiss Hami Gold” and is a new variety of Hami melon. It has orange flesh.

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Very sweet, it has a Brix level ranging between 12 and 16. (Brix of 1 is 1 percent sugar content.)

When selecting a melon, sniff it for a sweet honey smell and look for a few brown spots on the outside. These spots are sugar spots, indicating an extremely sweet melon.

The Sandstone Melon Co. developed the honey kiss melon in the early 2000s.

Enjoy this melon while it’s in season as it is a good source of vitamins A, B and C. It also has antioxidants thought to help protect against certain cancers.

The honey kiss melon is a hybrid of the Hami melon variety, which originated in Hami Prefecture in eastern Xinjiang, China, more than 700 years ago. In China it is known as the “King of Melons” and was a favorite of the emperor and royalty.

In July, there is an annual Hami Melon Festival in Xinjiang, which includes a melon carving contest, painting and folk art performances. There are more than 100 different Hami melon varieties on display and available for tasting at no cost.

The sugar kiss melon got its name because it is so sweet and also because of the way sugar melts on your tongue, which you get a similar feeling when you eat this melon. It is considered the cotton candy of melons. Sugar kiss melons have orange flesh.

A 3.5-ounce slice of this melon has 45 calories, 25 percent of the recommended daily amount of Vitamin A, 20 percent of Vitamin C and 4 percent iron.

Ripe melons have a nice smell and give lightly to the touch. Ripe sugar kiss melons can be refrigerated for up to five days. Once they are cut up, they should be eaten within three days. But if your house is like ours, it does not last more than two days. Our grandson, Quentin, loves these melons and eats them at breakfast, lunch and dinner. He got a hold of a half a melon while I was cutting and proceeded to bite into it!

The summer kiss melon has a light, sweet flavor that lingers. Its flesh is bright green. It is a native of Israel. Because it is sweet — but not overbearingly sweet — it pairs well with almonds, apricots, basil, cherries, chile powder, cilantro, creme fraiche, cucumbers, fennel, ginger, grapes, lemon, lime, mangoes, mint, olive oil, black pepper, tarragon and yogurt.

Like the sugar kiss melon, a 3.5-ounce slice has 45 calories and the same amount of RDA for vitamins A and C and iron.

Avoid too firm or too soft melons. When selecting a summer kiss melon, smell for sweetness.

Savor Fresh Farms, formerly Sandstone Melons, of Yuma, Ariz., produces golden kiss, honey kiss, sugar kiss and summer kiss melons. Chef Valentina collaborated with Savor Fresh Farms to create these recipes using the farm’s melons.

Rosemary Bacon Wrapped Golden Kiss Melon

Makes: 12

122-inch-by-1-inch pieces golden kiss melon

2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary, plus 12 3 1/2-inch sprigs of fresh rosemary

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

6 strips applewood smoked bacon

Freshly ground black pepper

Cut melon in half, remove skin. Cut into correct size pieces.

In saute pan, combine rosemary with olive oil. Place over medium heat just long enough to warm it. Drizzle the rosemary oil over the prepared melon and set aside.

Place a paper towel over a large plate and set it aside.

Cut the bacon slices in half and add them to a large saute pan over medium heat. Cook until bacon is browned and crisp, about 4 minutes per side.

Remove bacon from pan, dab each slice on a paper towel and immediately wrap it around one of the melon pieces. Where the two ends meet, overlap them as much as you can, and gently stick a sprig of rosemary into it.

Place them on a serving platter.

Crack fresh black pepper on top and serve immediately.

Summer Kiss Melon- Raspberry Creme Brulee

Serves: 4

3 ounces fresh raspberries

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 cup half and half

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup summer kiss melon, roughly chopped into large pieces

3 large egg yolks

5 tablespoons sugar

8 very thin slices summer kiss melon, cut in half

Place four 1-cup round ramekins in a large enough baking pan to hold them comfortably.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Divide the raspberries evenly among the ramekins, set aside.

Add the melons to a food processor fitted with a blade attachment. Blend until smooth as possible. Place a strainer over a mixing bowl and pour the melon puree into it. Strain all of the liquid into a bowl. (You can drink the liquid with some ice.) Spoon the melon puree remaining in the strainer into another mixing bowl and set aside.

Add the cream, half and half and vanilla to a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook until it begins to simmer. (You will see tiny bubbles along the edges of the pan.) Remove the pan from the heat and let it cool 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in medium mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks with 3 tablespoons sugar. Whisk until smooth, at least 30 seconds.

Gradually whisk the egg mixture into the cream mixture, add the melon puree and stir to blend. Strain this into another mixing bowl, let it cool at least 25 minutes.

Divide custard between the four ramekins, over the raspberries.

Carefully pour water into the pan, around the ramekins about halfway up the sides. Place pan in preheated 325-degree oven until custards are set but centers still move slightly when gently shaken, about 40 minutes.

Remove each ramekin from the pan and place them on a dry pan or the counter. Let them sit until they are at room temperature, about one hour.

Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to cool completely, about four hours, or overnight.

Place about four thin melon slices on top of each custard.

Divided evenly among the ramekins, sprinkle the remaining sugar on the surface of each one.

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Use a small kitchen torch to brown the sugar to create a crust.

Email Audrey Wilson at audreywilson808@gmail.com.