If asked in the height of the season "Where do melons come from in Oregon?", most would answer -- Hermiston, OR and they would be correct.
In years prior to 2020, the Central Oregon Master Gardner plant sale team grew Minnesota Midget cantaloupe and Sugar Baby watermelons for the sale and also for planting in the Redmond Demo Garden.
Sugar Baby watermelon is small to medium in size, 6-8 inches in diameter and very juicy. Maturity is approximately 76 days. Lucky were those volunteers who were on site when the first melons were harvested and taste tested. (Taste-testing is another big advantage for volunteering at the OSU Extension Redmond Demo Garden).
Minnesota Midget is an heirloom melon producing mini fruit 4-6 inches across. The plants do well in a container or in small garden spaces. Maturity is is 65-70 days. Add the 14 days for the variance of day to night temperatures in Central Oregon and you still have a crop to be considered.
Last week I counted 10 developing Minnesota Midgets. This week I counted 16 melons larger than a softball and the bees are still working hard on the many new blossoms. As the melons begin to ripen, it is suggested that withholding some water helps to concentrate sugars.
A quick word of advice if you are buying cantaloupe from the market. It is recommended that you wash and SCRUB a melon thoroughly because the surface can contain harmful bacteria such as salmonella. True--we aren't eating the rind but we could be bringing the bacteria into our kitchen.
I definitely will be sharing but I am also extremely interested in what else can be done to extend the benefits of the fruit beyond the season.
Good ole Google came to the rescue of providing more interesting ideas than I could ever come up with. Maybe some will appeal to you.
I also found recipes for cantaloupe popsicles, cantaloupe sorbet, meringue pie, Bundt cake, muffins and sweet bread.
Cantaloupe Gazpacho Soup with crispy prosciutto and crème fraiche sounds refreshing and worth a try on a hot day. Melon must be pureed very well so it isn't grainy.
Cantaloupe Crunch is made using a white cake mix. Reviews -- "not a cantaloupe fan but would make it again". The negative reviewer was short and sweet writing "cantaloupe just doesn't taste good baked."
Martha Stewart offers a Chickpea, Melon & Rosemary Salad recipe.
There are several recipes on-line for Cantaloupe Jam. The one that interested me was the crockpot Vanilla Cantaloupe jam from Creek Line House. After reading the reviews, I would reduce the sugar.
I have been putting together packets of mixed fresh fruit in the freeze for my wintertime breakfast smoothie As the melons ripen, I will make sure to grate some slices and add to the berry pouches already in the freezer. You can also remove the seeds and rind of the melon and cut into slices.
Place on cookie sheet and freeze for several hours. Package in freeze quality bags or package slices wrapped in wax paper and placed in freezer bags. Can be frozen from 4 to 6 months.
Who knew there were so many options?!