Right as Halloween rears its head each year, we see the dwindling of the summer bounty from the garden. Gone are the green beans and squash. Stocked away are multiple jars of tomato sauce. Whatever is left of berries sit frozen in jars in the freezer as tart purees. All that remains are the last few massive and oblong Crenshaw melons begging to be rescued from their final rot.
Crenshaw melons are the very sweet and juicy bastard children of casaba and Persians which have orange flesh and make their way into cubes at the end of most our dinners throughout summer. But by this time of year, we can’t eat them faster then they spoil so we are always looking for ways to rescue them from imminent death. The last mottled bunch became quite intimate with the chinois a few weeks ago as we first pureed all of the flesh and then squished it through the mesh to extract a gorgeous, rich and brightly colored pure juice. Alone the juice was sublime and spiked with gin or scotch as a cocktail as well. The juice even went perfectly with a homemade bowl of miso, spinach and fish ball stew that I made for dinner one night. Melon and anything Asian are a perfect pair.
But the true pleasant surprise came when we decided to make the juice into a granita for dessert. I grew up loving the Italian coffee granitas at my local poetry and coffee shop in the desert during long summers when we were constantly craving cool refreshment. I decided to experiment a little with the clean melon juice so that it would keep its integrity, not get too diluted and be sweet enough for a cold nip after dinner. With a little lime zest to brighten it up, it was the perfect soothing way to end a hot and busy day. Because we resisted adding too much sugar and no water at all, we ended up with a texture that got creamier as it melted and avoided many of the ice crystals that normally pop up jarringly on desserts of this nature.
(I am sure any melon would do the same thing if used from it’s strained pure juice form.)
3 cups straight, pure melon juice, pureed and strained from the fruit pulp
1/8 c. sugar
Place melon juice, one tablespoon of lime juice and sugar in a blender and whip. Pour all into an 11 X 7 glass baking dish. Put into freezer for two hours until a crust starts to form around the edges. Take out and crunch up peripheral crust with a fork and pull towards middle of dish. Then place back into the freezer for two hours and do the same crunching method. At this point you should have a nice slushy yet firm pile of melon shards and rocks. Place into bowls to serve and garnish with grated lime zest. They also go lovely with chocolate or hazelnut rolled up wafer cookies.