In season: cantaloupe


Ricky Brown of Back River Farm in Loganville has a field full of Athena cantaloupe. It’s a variety he’s been growing for several years after hearing it highly recommended by his county extension agent, as well as other farmers. “It grows well for me and it’s one of the sweetest.”

Brown sells his melons and other produce on the farm, to his community-supported agriculture customers or through LocallyGrown.net. He’s a Certified Naturally Grown farmer with 5 acres of fields planted in potatoes, summer squash, sweet corn, bell peppers, watermelon, beans, field peas and all that cantaloupe.

This year, he put in 300 cantaloupe plants. “You never know how many melons you’ll get off a plant. You might not get one. You might get two.”

Most years, he succession plants so he’ll have melons to harvest over a longer period of time. Each planting should offer melons for harvest over a three-week period.

Brown’s fields are irrigated, which means this summer’s dry weather hasn’t been as much of a problem as it could be. But he’s also learned in his years of growing melons to cut back on the water as the melons start to mature. “They won’t be as sweet if they get too much water,” he said.

A critical skill in growing melon is knowing when to harvest. “You have to look at the stems,” Brown said. “When they start to get dry, it’s time to get ready to harvest. When you’re buying melons at the store, you want to smell the blossom end. If it’s fragrant, it will be a good melon.”

Brown enjoys his melons almost as much as his customers. “I treat myself to a cantaloupe every day during the season,” he said. “I don’t do that with everything I grow, but definitely with cantaloupe.”

Cantaloupe and Ginger Granita

Granita, or Italian ice, is an easy frozen treat to make. Executive chef Walker Brown of Inman Park’s Wisteria Restaurant was inspired to create this granita to take advantage of summer’s field-ripened cantaloupes. Blending cantaloupe and ginger with just a hint of ground clove is an inspired combination. Brown says the granita is good on its own but even more delicious when drizzled with good rum or cold sake.

2 cups water

1 1/3 cups granulated sugar

4 cups 1-inch cubed ripe cantaloupe

2 tablespoons fresh grated ginger

Juice of 1/4 lemon

Pinch ground cloves

Make simple syrup: In a medium saucepan, combine water and sugar and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Cool to room temperature.

In the jar of a blender, combine cantaloupe, ginger, lemon juice and cloves. Puree, then transfer to a large bowl. Stir in cooled simple syrup. Pour mixture into a 13-by-9-inch baking dish and freeze mixture overnight. When ready to serve, use an ice cream scoop or other metal spoon to scrape the granita into balls. Serve immediately. Makes: 6 cups

Per 1/2-cup serving: 105 calories (percent of calories from fat, 1), trace protein, 27 grams carbohydrates, trace fiber, trace fat (no saturated fat), no cholesterol, 5 milligrams sodium.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Food

Momonoki — with dipping ramen on its menu — now open in Midtown
Momonoki — with dipping ramen on its menu — now open in Midtown

Dipping ramen from Momonoki / Photo from the Momonoki Facebook page Dipping ramen? It’s a thing, and it’s on the menu at Momonoki, the new spot in Midtown from John Chen and Jason Liang, the team behind Brush Sushi Izakaya in Decatur. Momonoki officially opened this week in the Modera by Mill Creek development in Midtown, along...
Chopt enters Atlanta market this week with Toco Hill location
Chopt enters Atlanta market this week with Toco Hill location

Chopt / Photo courtesy of Chopt Ready to go green, Atlanta? New York City-based gourmet salad chain Chopt Creative Salad Co. is set to open this week in Toco Hill Shopping Center at 2935 North Druid Hills Road, with more metro Atlanta locations in the works. The eatery will host a Chopt Gives Back preview day July 21,...
We tried Sonic’s Pickle Juice Slush, Taco Bell’s Watermelon Freeze
We tried Sonic’s Pickle Juice Slush, Taco Bell’s Watermelon Freeze

Pickle Juice Slush from Sonic (left) and Watermelon Freeze from Taco Bell Tomorrow is the first official day of summer, but with temps getting into the 90s, we’ve been feeling the heat for the past few days. You could cool down with a dip in the pool , but we prefer the tastier (and less work-intensive route) of sucking...
Featured food events in metro Atlanta June 20 – 24: Gunshow, Better Half chefs team up for dinner
Featured food events in metro Atlanta June 20 – 24: Gunshow, Better Half chefs team up for dinner

Golden Eagle in Reynoldstown will launch its happy hour offerings with food and drink specials. Photo credit: Blue Hominy PR. Head to Midtown this weekend for a special garden event filled with authentic cultural flavors from international chef. Gunshow and Better Half chefs will team up for an exclusive six-course dinner...
Vacation mom: Role evolves into cocktail consultant
Vacation mom: Role evolves into cocktail consultant

Folks, I am fresh from vacation. You know what that means? I spent money on stuff I didn’t need, slept in cramped lodgings, and ate overpriced food. So, to get my money’s worth, I need to relive it by talking about our family travels, pulling out my phone and scrolling through zillions of photos for any willing audience. Look, mountains!...
More Stories