In season: melons

Georgia’s soggy summer has been a tough one on a lot of crops, not the least of which are the melons.

Shoppers at the Morningside Farmers Market usually have a variety of specialty melons to choose from. Local farmers like Dave Bentoski of D&A Farms in Zebulon like to offer more than the standard cantaloupe and watermelon. The Crenshaw is one of Bentoski’s favorites. Large and sweet, it draws a lot of attention to his stand at the Saturday morning market.

Normally, Bentowski would be able to offer those Crenshaws for almost a month. But this year, he, too, had total crop failure, despite the benefits of the geography of the farm. “Our drier location has helped us during this extended rainy spell. We received less than half the rainfall of any other farmer I have spoken to,” he said. Still, even half the rainfall was too much for the tender Crenshaw.

Cimino Organic Farms usually offers ‘Ambrosia’ melons, an extra sweet hybrid cantaloupe. Their melons rotted in the field. Woodland Gardens grows French melons. Another crop failure.

Because Bentoski also grows cantaloupe and watermelon, he’s had melons to offer his customers who anxiously await the arrival of melon season. “Summer just wouldn’t be the same without them,” Bentoski said.

He said Crenshaws and other specialty melons are tougher to grow because they haven’t been subjected to the vigorous hybridization of the familiar grocery store melons like cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon. Those fruits have been bred to withstand a wide variety of growing conditions and to be tough enough to get from field to store to home in good condition.

So enjoy whatever melons the farmers have been able to harvest and look forward to a drier, sunnier summer next year.

At local farmers markets

Cooking demos:

4-8 p.m. Thursday, August 29. Chef Seth Freedman of Forage and Flame offers demos throughout the market. East Atlanta Village Farmers Market, Atlanta. www.farmeav.com

9 a.m. Saturday, August 31. Chef Joe Truex of Watershed, working with peppers. Morningside Farmers Market, Atlanta. www.morningsidemarket.com

10 a.m. Saturday, August 31. Chef Jenn Robbins of Avalon Catering. Peachtree Road Farmers Market, Atlanta. www.peachtreeroadfarmersmarket.com

For sale

Vegetables, fruit and nuts: acorn squash, arugula, Asian greens, Asian pears, beets, bitter melon, blueberries, carrots, celery, collards, corn, cucumbers, dandelion, eggplant, field peas, figs, garlic, green beans, herbs, lettuce, Malabar spinach, melons, muscadines, mushrooms, Okinawa spinach, okra, onions, pea shoots, peaches, pears, pecans, peppers, potatoes, pumpkins, radishes, sorrel, spinach, spring onions, summer squash, sweet potato greens, tomatoes, turnips, yard long beans, winter squash

From local reports

Shaun Doty’s French Melon, Aged Gouda and Serrano Ham Salad

Hands on: 10 minutes

Total time: 10 minutes

Serves: 4

Bantam & Biddy and Chick-a-Biddy’s Shaun Doty provided an elegant update of the traditional melon and prosciutto. It will be delicious with whatever melon is available.

Muscat Beaumes de Venise is a sweet white wine from France’s Rhone Valley. If you have trouble finding it, Doty suggests using a Vin Santo. In either case, enjoy the rest of the bottle with your salad. Saba di Modena is balsamic vinegar reduced down to syrup. It’s available at stores carrying gourmet groceries, including Strippaggio at Emory Point, which has both 10- and 18-year-old versions.

1 French melon, peeled, seeded, cut into large chunks

1 tablespoon Muscat Beaumes de Venise

1 tablespoon Saba di Modena

5 mint leaves, minced

1 pinch sea salt

1/4 pound shaved aged Gouda

1/4 pound shaved Serrano ham

Sprigs of parsley, for garnish

In a large bowl, toss melon, Muscat Beaumes de Venise, Saba di Modena, mint and salt. Divide between four serving plates. Arrange Gouda and ham on each plate, garnish with parsley and serve immediately.

Per serving: 277 calories (percent of calories from fat, 37), 14 grams protein, 31 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 12 grams fat (6 grams saturated), 47 milligrams cholesterol, 676 milligrams sodium.

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