Printed with the permission of the Alpine Avalanche
A few years ago, my husband and I discovered that something’s changed in the watermelon world. Most of the melons we’d cut into lacked the trademark red color, and didn’t have that watermelon flavor we’d both remembered from years not too far past.
When we planted raised beds in our teeny suburban backyard, we decided to xeriscape our front yard, planting native and hardy plants that required little to no watering once established. With yucca, lantana, sage and various herbs happily thriving, I decided to plant a couple heirloom watermelon and squash seeds just for fun.
The first season, yellow squash went crazy – I’m the only fan of squash so needless to say, I wasn’t heartbroken when the season ended and I could take a break from eating squash.
The watermelon vines didn’t make an appearance until the next year, when I’d completely forgotten about them. I think they grew ten feet long overnight, a couple nights in a row. I had to position them in a zig-zag formation to keep them from growing into the street. And then one day, I spotted tiny little melons growing out of yellow flowers!
The watermelon vines became so thick, it was work to find the six watermelons that were growing in our front yard. One vine had managed to climb into a Red-Tipped Photina shrub, and by the time I noticed the melon tucked inside the shrub, I had to trim the branches to allow it be able to pick it when it was time.
I missed the perfect harvesting moment for two of the football-sized melons and found them cracked in the yard. When we cut into the other four perfectly smooth melons, they were pink inside – and didn’t taste like much of anything. So much for growing sweet watermelon in our yard.
It’s been a disappointing handful of years for us as far as watermelons go… until a couple weeks ago.
If you were in Fort Davis during the Coolest 4th weekend, you had a chance to buy Pecos melons from the fellas parked at Limpia Creek Hats. I bought one melon, and by the time we chilled it, cut in and decided it was the best melon we’d eaten in years, the guys were gone.
Come to find out, Porter’s is selling Pecos melons. I carefully selected one watermelon outside the store, and as I made my way through the produce section, found another beautiful melon to add to the cart.
Two watermelons at once? They’re Pecos melons without having to drive to Cayonosa or wait for a truck to appear on a street corner – how could I pass up that opportunity?
We recently learned a trick for picking sweet watermelons, and it has no thumping involved. Look for the melon with the most scratchy, brown spots on it. Those spots are from when the bee scratches the blossom during pollination prior to watermelon growth. Finding the ugliest melon has proven to yield the sweetest fruit every time.
Our most recent scratched melon was the best we’ve tasted in many years. Bright red in color, and so flavorful that my mouth waters just thinking about it. On a scale of one to 10, it was a 12. I ate so much watermelon that you’d think I’d be tired of it, but I’m not. As a matter of fact, I’m about to cut into that second one.
Get your Pecos melons while you can – they’re the best I’ve ever over-eaten.
4 cups diced seedless watermelon
1 cup diced red onion (about half a medium red onion)
2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1-2 jalapeno(s), seeded and finely diced (add more/less to taste)
zest and juice of 1 lime
Toss all ingredients together until combined. Serve immediately with chips, on tacos, or however you like to eat your salsa. Refrigerate covered for up to 2 days.