The honeydew is unloved. This is shown in study after study, both empirical and anecdotal. For example, according to this survey, the honeydew doesn’t even make it into the top 20 of fruits sold, having been bumped from the 20 spot by the nectarine just last year. This ranking slots the honeydew at #25 (out of 27, and inexplicably below grapefruit) with the glib commentary that the “only thing honeydew has going for it is that it’s not watermelon” (a criticism that does not even make sense because watermelon is good). Even Pete Wells, whose insights we are supposed to regard with high esteem because he is paid a living wage to eat things by The New York Times, has dismissed honeydews as nothing more than “indestructible totems of breakfast buffets.” All of this is very unfair.
For comparison, you just don’t see this kind of condescension in Asia, which appropriately prizes the honeydew’s succulent refreshment as an indispensable joy of summer. Over there, consumers are willing to pay top-price for some good melon–in this auction, for example, just one sold for over $20,000. Such a difference from over here! Here, as the studies above show, honeydews are an afterthought, consigned for nothing more than filler for fruit salads that are nibbled at, and then thrown away.
How did America get so out of step with the truth? I am afraid that Americans may have simply never learned how to eat honeydew right in the first place and have been doing it wrong for a very long time. This is a shame. A honeydew, given the chance to ripen, yields with a sweet and juicy clarity–a very special thing entirely unlike the perfunctory green triangles common to the continental breakfasts of our pasts. Still yet, I am hopeful for change. Honeydews are well-suited to this time of isolation. For starters, they are often in stock, no doubt due to some of the prejudices described above. They are also practical, as their rinds guard them from perishing as quickly as other produce. Finally, as if all that wasn’t enough, they deliver significant bang-for-the-buck–a large honeydew at my grocery this week cost under $5 and has provided multiple days’ servings of fresh fruit. Allowed to ripen, then chilled, and then sliced, they are just luscious. On a warmer evening where you can feel the season begin to change, I can think of few luxuries that are more accessible.
Honeydew Recipe (also works for cantaloupes)
- Go to the grocery store and pick out a honeydew. I don’t actually have any science to support how to pick out fruit, but I generally look for ones that feel heavy for their size and am also drawn to ones whose rinds’ coloring has some dimension (I’ll pick the one mottled with a handsome yellow blush over the one that looks wan and one-note, for example). This is probably just superstition, but it has worked well for me.
- Put your honeydew on the counter and allow it to ripen. Check every day or so for ripeness by gently pressing the rind. If it feels firm and does not give, it isn’t ready. Once the rind yields a bit with some pressure (kind of like pressing on an orange), it’s ready. Once it’s ready, put it in the fridge. It’ll last there for another few days at least. If you’re an optimizer, save it for the next warm night with a breeze, where you can eat it after dinner either outside or with a window open.
- Take the honeydew out of the fridge. Slice it open down the middle. Scoop out the seeds with a big spoon. There should be a spoonful or so of juice leftover in the cavity where you scooped out the seeds. Sip this up either with a spoon or, even better, tipping the entire honeydew toward your mouth like a goblet. It is sublime. You will feel like a king (or queen).
- Slice each honeydew half into wedges, like a smiley face shape. Cut off bite size pieces by making perpendicular cuts to the rind, and then running your knife parallel to the rind to lop off the pieces. Enjoy!