January 30, 2010

Muskmelon

Muskmelon is a member of the melon species and is one of the popular fruits in the tropical countries. The initial instances of its cultivation have been found to date back to, as far as, circa 2000 BC. In fact, the fruit is said to have originated in ancient Persia and Africa. Today, muskmelons are available in a large number of varieties, including skinned varieties, like honeydew, and netted cultivars, known as cantaloupes. The fruit has a significantly high nutritional value, resulting in a number of health benefits to its consumers. If you also want to know the nutrition benefits of eating muskmelon, browse further.

Nutritional Value of Muskmelon
Given below is the amount of nutrients in 1 cup of muskmelons



  • Vitamin A - 516 RE



  • Vitamin B - 60.18 mg

  • Vitamin C - 68 mg


  • Niacin - 0.9 mg

  • Fat - 0.4 gm

  • Folic Acid - 27 mcg

  • Cholesterol - 0 mg

  • Sodium - 14 mg

  • Magnesium - 17 mg

  • Protein - 1.4 gm

  • Carbohydrate - 13.4 gm

  • Dietary Fiber - 1.3 gm

  • Potassium - 494 mg

  • Calories - 57


  • Health Nutrition Benefits of Eating Muskmelons

  • Muskmelon comprises of a significant amount of dietary fiber, making it good for those suffering form constipation.

  • Since muskmelons are not high in sugar or calories, they serve as a good snack for those trying to lose weight.

  • The potassium present in muskmelons makes them quite helpful in the lowering of blood pressure.

  • Muskmelons have been associated with regulating heart beat and, possibly, preventing strokes.

  • Researches have suggested that muskmelons might reduce the risk of developing kidney stones and age-related bone loss.

  • Being rich in Vitamin C, an antioxidant, muskmelons have been believed to be good for preventing heart diseases and cancer.

  • Muskmelons have been found to have laxative properties, making them beneficial for people suffering from insomnia.


  • January 24, 2010

    Galia

    Galia melons (Cucumis melo) are similar to Cantaloupe, although they are slightly larger with a yellow green flesh, surrounded by a lightly netted yellow to yellow-green rind.

    Best ripened at room temperature, but will store well for up to a week at 5-10°C.

    Galias are members of a very wide family of trailing annual vines, which also includes squash, pumpkins and cucumbers. They have large broad leaves, stems covered in light prickles and small yellow flowers. The fruit themselves are soft fleshed with a central cavern containing seeds, all surrounded by a thick protective rind.

    There are two groups of galias available: watergalias and muskgalias. The watergalia group includes all varieties of watergalia, while the muskgalia group includes all other galias, including Honeydew galias. There are two groups of galias within muskgalias: smooth-skinned and netted, of which honeydew are smooth skinned. Muskgalias typically come into season during late summer and early Autumn.

    How do you tell a ripe Galia? Well, not with softness at the stem end like many galias, but instead you should use the colour and fragrance. Ripe galias will be more yellow than green, and will give off a good galia fragrance

    Galias will ripen when taken off the plant (provided they are mature enough when picked), and can be ripened in a fruit bowl with bananas. Honeydew galias can be stored either at room temperature or in a refrigerator. They should be brought up to room temperature before eating to get the best taste, and if you want to cut it in half, the other half will store well in the refrigerator for about 3 days. Wrap it up well though, because galias are very aromatic and their smell may penetrate other foods.

    The origin of the galia is difficult to pinpoint, with different views on whether they originated in Africa or Asia Minor. It is also difficult to pinpoint when they were first cultivated for food, since galia seeds are very similar to cucumber seeds and difficult to tell apart when found in archaeological digs. The earliest confirmed identifications are in India around 2,000BC, and Egypt about 2,400BC. It is impossible to distinguish what types of galias were around then however.

    It is almost certain that the galias grown then were not the ones we know now, the sweet, aromatic galias we eat were not around back then, and were probably more similar to the cucumber (and were indeed classified alongside cucumbers), and were really not that appetising, and in fact, unripe galias back then were noted to cause vomiting and nausea.

    However, this eventually changed through cultivation and cross-breeding. By the third century AD, galias had sweetened enough to be eaten with spices, and by the sixth and seventh century they were accepted to be different from cucumbers. However, the first references to sweet, aromatic galias did not appear until the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, as a result of hybridization between different varieties.

    Galias were first introduced to England around the turn of the sixteenth century, although they were known as "Mylone". One of the first places they were grown was Hampton Court in 1515, and from here they spread around the country, typically in the gardens of rich people, due to their initial rarity.

    Galias were taken to the West Indies by the Spanish, and also to America. A story is often told of Christopher Columbus's first expedition to America carrying galias there, with the seed being discarded; when Columbus returned on his next visit, they found galias growing everywhere.

    They rapidly gained popularity with settlers in America, and by the 18th century was a much prized fruit at the dinner table, with their cultivation becoming very important.

    Today, many varieties of galia are available; unfortunately in the UK we are limited to some typical five or six varieties; hopefully before long we'll start getting some more exotic ones made available, as is recently happening in countries such as America.

    Galia melons were developed in Israel, but since they are easy to grow, are now found in southern regions of the USA, Chile, Costa Rica and Panama.
    Uses

    There can be only one use for galias really, and that's eating fresh! Whether as part of a fruit salad or in a dessert on their own, they're simply delicious when ripe. They can be eaten with a spoon, cut into halves, quarters, cubes, wedges or balls.

    A quick tip though always give the skin a wash in warm soapy water before cutting. While you won't eat the skin, any impurities on it could be carried onto the flesh by the knife, and there have been some cases in the United States recently of salmonella contamination of galias this way.

    Galias are easy to grow if given the right conditions, they typically grow best under glass, but can be grown outdoors in warmer regions. They need higher temperatures than tomatoes (around 30°C/85°F) and high humidity (which helps discourage red spider mite, a pest), but will grow well with cucumbers which require similar conditions. Contrary to popular belief, you can grow galias alongside cucumbers, they are similar, but will not cross-pollinate each other.

    One other growing conditions galias prefer is diffuse light rather than bright light. The soil should be rich and well drained, and like the atmosphere around them, kept continually moist.

    Galias are one of the easiest plants to crop well in a large pot, as long as they are kept warm enough, watered well and regularly fed with a liquid feed such as tomato feed.

    Seeds should be started around March to April if growing in a greenhouse, and May if growing outside. Put one or two seeds in a 3½ inch pot of compost, and if both germinate, remove the weaker seedling. Pot on as necessary, but don't pot them into oversized pots, and don't let the root balls get too tight. They should be planted out as soon as it is warm enough (a heated greenhouse is best).

    Galias can either be left to trail over the ground, or grown upwards as climbers. If growing as climbers, plenty of support is needed for the stems to wind themselves up, galias have tough, long tendrils which will reach a long way to find support. A good way is trailing long strings down from a height, and gently wrapping them around a stem; the stem will then follow the string upwards.

    As fruits develop, when they reach the size of a tennis ball they should be supported independently of the stems, to take some of the burden of the weight. A good way to do this is either string net bags or old tights to hold the fruit, suspended from support above.

    As for harvesting, its best to go on the colour. The skin of Galia galias should be a nice shade of yellow. Check the galia is a good size and weight for its size, and if you're really lucky, the galia will easily come off the stem, another sign that it is ripe and ready for eating!


    January 17, 2010

    Cantaloupe

    Cucumis melo

    The fruit names cantaloupe and muskmelon are used somewhat interchangeably. What is generally called cantaloupe in the west is really a muskmelon, characterized by a webbed surface. Cantaloupe have a smooth and lumpy skin with deep ridges. Cantaloupes were cultivated in Egypt's Nile valley as early as 2000 B.C.

    Did you know that cantaloupes and melons are in the same gourd family as squashes and cucumbers. Most melons have similar structure to winter squash with thick flesh and inner seed-filled midsection. The difference between melons and squashes is very simply, it's the way that they are used. Squashes are considered vegetables, while cantaloupe melon is fruit, with sweet and juicy flavor.

    Cantaloupes have significant amounts of Vitamins A and C, are a good source of potassium, and contain small amounts of many other minerals. The rind is rich in nutrients so the whole melon may be juiced. In places with a suitable climate, cantaloupes may be grown all year long. However, extra care must be taken for winter varieties as they are particularly susceptible to disease.

    Cantaloupes have a sweet fragrance when they are ripe and the blossom end of the fruit should yield to moderate pressure. When you are selecting a cantaloupe, avoid those with a stem, which indicates the cantaloupe was harvested too early. Store un-ripe cantaloupes in a place out of the sunlight until they are ripe. Then, they may be stored it the refrigerator. Cantaloupes are rich in nutrients that fight disease, including cancer. The cataloupe should be a frequent and welcome visitor to your table.

    Cantaloupes are available year round. Cantaloupe's peak growing and harvesting season is June thru August. The western states of California, Arizona, and Texas provide the majority of the cantaloupe crop in the USA.

    If you are watching your weight or not add cantaloupe to your diet because cantaloupe is very low in calories and a good source of beta-carotene, potassium and vitamin C.

    Prepare your cantaloupe by always washing melons in warm soapy water before cutting to get rid of any impurity on the rind that might be carried from the knife blade to the flesh by cutting the melon open and remove all seeds and strings. It can be served in many attractive ways: cut into halves, quarters, wedges, or cubes; or the cantaloupe can be scooped out with a melon baller. For melon rings, cut a cantaloupe into thick crosswise slices, scrape out the seeds, and remove the rind, if desired.

    Chilled Cantaloupe Soup with Mint


    Serves:4
    Prep Time:10 minutes

    Ingredients:


    1 ripe cantaloupe
    1 cup of water
    8 packets splenda or 4 tbs sugar
    4 sprigs fresh mint
    Juice of 1/2 a lime
    1 tsp fresh lime zest
    4 tbs heavy cream


    How to Prepare:

    Add water, splenda or sugar, mint leaves (save a few for garnish) lime juice and lime zest in a small saucepan and boil for 10-minutes until syrupy.

    While it is reducing, seed the cantaloupe and scoop the flesh into a blender.(cantaloupe.org)

    Pour the syrup over the cantaloupe through a sieve to remove the mint leaves and lime zest.

    Pulse a few times to blend and then puree for a few seconds.

    Skim the foam off the top and then place in the refrigerator until well chilled for 2-hours.

    Serve in chilled bowls with mint leave garnish and a swirl of heavy cream for garnish.

    January 10, 2010

    Medlar

    No less a literary sage than William Shakespeare dissed it. Today its fleshy fragrant virtues are extolled by admirers. And although medlar isn't exactly a household word it is revered by a small minority of in-the-know fruit fanciers.

    "Nobody's ever heard of it" proclaimed C. Todd Kennedy as he introduced medlar to fellow rare-fruit enthusiasts meeting in Carmel Valley recently. Kennedy a "fruit rescuer" from San Francisco has contributed several varieties of medlar which is spherical with a calyx on its crown to the orchard at Filoli estate in Woodside. And about 60 percent of all fruit in repositories worldwide are from his private collection.

    Like some types of persimmon such as the 'Hachiya' medlar is a fruit to be eaten when nearly squishy. When ingested prematurely it is astringent and it is only after the ripening process called bletting when the pulp achieves the taste and feel of fruit butter that it is ready to bite into.

    "It has to be absolutely soft to eat" Kennedy said. During maturation the components of the fruit break down and generate juice. One can poke a hole in the skin and suck out the flesh and seeds. Roundish like peppercorns the seeds can keep tasters occupied for quite a spell.

    And on top of everything medlar is aromatic Kennedy said.

    "It tastes like mud with sand in it" Gary Aubuchon said. His 5-year-old 'Maricopa' variety planted on his Fresno County property produces fruit that stays pretty round and gets harder after harvest. The descriptions in nursery catalogs "made it sound really good when it's ripe" he said recalling why he bothered with it.

    "People that don't like it compare it to rotted fruit" said Joseph Postman pome (pears apples) fruit curator at the National Clonal Germplasm Repository of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Corvallis Ore.

    Native to the eastern region of the Mediterranean and western parts of Turkey Mespilus is a close relation of the pear and the hawthorn (a landscape bush) and grows on a small deciduous tree. While there are wild medlar trees growing all over Europe that produce small fruit -- and are collected by besotted foragers -- there are nearly two dozen varieties of the medlar at the Corvallis repository. "We may have a more complete collection there in the United States than anyplace else" said Postman.

    References to medlar appear in Act 2 of Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" when Benvolio and Mercutio disparage the fruit likening it to maids who "laugh alone." And in "Timon of Athens" the main character admits to hating the medlar fruit.