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Muskmelons vary in shape in size and tend to weigh between 5 and 8 pounds. Most are round to ovate and some will have a slightly squat shape. They have a pronounced light tan netting over their exterior, a characteristic unique to all Muskmelon varieties. Many types of Muskmelon such as this one pictured have very pronounced sutures, giving it a pumpkin-like shape. Its interior contains a central seed cavity which is surrounded by thick, smooth, bright salmon hued flesh. Offering a sweet aroma and flavor, the Muskmelon has a high sugar content with lingering floral notes. When ripe the Muskmelon will have a sweet aroma and will feel weighty for its size. Muskmelons are best consumed within a few weeks of harvesting.
Muskmelon can be found growing in the late spring and early summer months.
Muskmelons also known as sweet melon, kharbujam and cantaloupe are botanically known as Cucumis melo and a member of the Cucurbitaceae family. There are approximately ten different commercial varieties of Muskmelon grown in India today such as Kharbuj, Kharbooj and Karbuja. In addition to fresh eating, in India the Muskmelon is utilized to produce Muskmelon oil which is used in skincare, for cooking and in naturopathic medicine.
Known as a fruit that is universally beneficial for all doshas in Ayurveda the Muskmelon is believed to have cooling properties and be beneficial in treatment of fatigue, constipation, bladder infections and ulcers. Additionally Muskmelon contains vitamin A and vitamin C which has been shown to be helpful in promoting eye and skin health.
Muskmelons have a classic sweet melon flavor making them ideal for use in fresh preparations. Its smooth texture works well as a puree for sauces and soups. Add to smoothies, milkshakes and lassis. Add cubed or pureed when making sorbet, kheer, cakes, ice cream and puddings. In the summer months it is popularly served juiced as is or combined with milk as a cooling and hydrating beverage. The flavor of muskmelon pairs well with papaya, mint, basil, lemongrass, mango, kiwi, cucumber, lime, cashew, honey, cardamom, cumin, nutmeg, coconut milk and cream. Muskmelons can be kept at room temperature until cut then will keep for three to four days refrigerated.
In the United States Muskmelons are also commonly referred to as a Cantaloupe type melon though technically no true cantaloupes are grown commercially in the United States. In India Muskmelons are commonly sliced and served with sugar and cardamom. A beverage known as Pannaka made from Muskmelon is traditionally served during the celebration of Lord Rama known as Ram Navami.
The exact origin of Muskmelon is unknown, though many experts believe it to be native to South and East Africa. The majority of Muskmelon production comes from the United States and from China where it has been cultivated since 2000 BC. In India Muskmelons can be found growing in a variety of different regions such as Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Safeda, Andhra Pradesh, Lucknow and Uttar Pradesh. The Muskmelon thrives in high heat conditions ideally 70 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. A vining type, the Muskmelon needs adequate space for growing and will be a prolific fruiter provided given satisfactory growing conditions. Muskmelon plants grown in cooler climates will yield less and smaller sized fruits. Ripe muskmelons will have a sweet aroma and will naturally release or partially release from their vine. Muskmelons maintain their sweet flavor well after harvest, a quality that makes them unique among some other more perishable varieties of melon.
Recipes that include Muskmelon. One is easiest, three is harder.