Kids Club Vol. 32: Melon

KIDS CLUB

VOLUME 32

Welcome to the latest issue of our ChopChop Kids Club newsletter!

Melons are one of our favorite summertime treats! Are they one of yours too? What kind do you like best? We love them all: sweet, orange cantaloupe; juicy, pale green honeydew; ripe red watermelon. Of course you don’t need a recipe for melon. You can just eat it, and it will be perfect! But we have a couple of easy recipes anyway, just in case you want to try something new. Plus, we’ve got fun facts, simple activities, and a summery way to practice gratitude.

Happy melon season!

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INSIDE THIS ISSUE

Melon Salad with Chiles and Mint

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Melon Salad with Chiles and Mint

We've adapted this recipe from the book CookFight by Kim Severson and Julia Moskin. It might be surprising to think of pairing melon with savory ingredients like herbs and chile peppers—but if you try it, you'll see what makes it such a great and refreshing idea.
Prep Time 20 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Servings 4 Servings

kitchen gear

  • Cutting board
  • Sharp knife (adult needed)
  • Measuring cup
  • Medium-sized bowl
  • Melon baller (if you have one)
  • Measuring spoons

Ingredients
 

  • 1 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 small green chile pepper, minced, or ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 cups melon balls or cubes
  • 10 fresh mint or basil leaves

Instructions
 

  • Put all the ingredients in the bowl.
  • Eat right away, or cover and refrigerate 1 hour and no more than 3 hours.

Notes

When you cut chile peppers, their oils can get on your hands and, later, burn your eyes or nose if you rub them. That's why it's a good idea to wear rubber gloves to cut the peppers. If you forget, use dish soap to wash your hands afterward, since it can get the oil off better than regular hand soap can.
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How to Use a Melon Baller

A melon baller is an old-fashioned and not-at-all-important kitchen tool! But that doesn’t mean it’s not super fun to use one, and there’s just something so satisfying about turning a big melon into a bowlful of small spheres. Besides, it’s a good excuse to raid your grandma’s kitchen drawers—she probably has an old melon baller in there somewhere!

  1. Cut a melon in half, then slice a piece from the bottom of each half so that you can steady the halves while you work. If it’s a cantaloupe-type melon, scrape out all the seeds and discard them.
  2. Plunge the edge of the melon baller into the melon, and rotate the edge all the way around to make a perfect sphere. (It probably won’t be “perfect” at first, but keep at it, and you’ll get the hang of it!) Put the balls in a bowl. Repeat until you’ve used all the usable fruit, then discard the rind—or put the melon balls back into it, to be fancy.

Any-Melon Agua Fresca

Agua fresca is a popular drink in Mexico, and if you’ve ever eaten in a taqueria (taco shop), you may have seen different flavors of it in clear drink dispensers. Agua fresca means “fresh water” in Spanish—which gives you a sense of how light and refreshing this drink is. You can use any melon, as long as it’s ripe and flavorful. 

To make 4 servings, put 4 cups (1½–2 pounds) cold, seedless melon chunks (any kind), 1 cup very cold water, 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, a pinch of salt, and 1 tablespoon honey into a blender. Put the lid on tightly. Turn the blender to medium and blend until the mixture is liquidy and smooth. Turn the machine off and use a small spoon to taste the mixture. Does it need a bit more honey? Another squeeze of lime juice? Add some, then blend again. Pour into glasses and serve right away.

Botanically speaking, melons are part of the cucurbit family, which produces fruits called pepos. These are technically berries, but they have thick skins. Can you guess what another member of the cucurbit family is? (Hint: Look at the first 4 letters of the word.)

Favorite season

It’s summertime! What are your five favorite things about the season? (Ours are warm weather, swimming, growing herbs, ripe fruit, and being outside.) Ask a friend or family member what their five favorite things are, then compare notes. Did they remind you of anything you’d forgotten?

Photo: Asad Photo Maldives from Pexels
 

Melon by the Numbers

  • Archaeologists have found melon seeds in Italy that date back to 1100 BCE. In other words, people have been enjoying melons for at least 3000 years!
  • The heaviest cantaloupe ever weighed over 67 pounds and was grown in Kentucky in 2019. 
  • The average watermelon contains between 200 and 800 seeds. (Seedless watermelons, however, contain only infertile white seeds, which wouldn’t grow if you planted them.)
TASTE TEST

Some unexpected flavors go well together. Salty or sour flavors can make sweet things taste sweeter. And adding a little spice to the mix can too! Try this: 

  1. Take a cube of any kind of melon and taste it. What does it taste like?
  2. Squeeze a little lemon or lime juice on it and taste it again. Do you like it?
  3. Take another cube and sprinkle it with salt. Taste it. What do you think?
  4. Now sprinkle it with a little bit of chili powder. Taste it again.

Which was your favorite?

Estimating with Melon Seeds

The next time you have a slice of watermelon, use a toothpick to poke out all the seeds into a pile on your plate. Guess how many seeds there are. Don’t count them—just look at them and guess a number. Now try estimating in a more scientific way: Count out 3 of the seeds, then look at the seeds that are left. How many more groups of 3 do you think there are? If you think there are 5 groups of 3, then how many seeds do you estimate there will be all together? Can you think of any other ways to estimate? Finally, count the seeds to check how close your estimate is. 

(Extra credit: How many seeds do you estimate are in the whole melon? How did you get that number?)

Photo: Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

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Got More Melon? Try One of These Recipes

Double-Melon Salad
Frozen Watermelon "Popsicles"
Pico de Gallo Fruit Salad
Watermelon Smush
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