Melons are one of the tastiest seasonal fruits of the season, but are you serving them safely? There have been unsafe melons around the country already this year, so let us review how to properly cut and serve a melon so no one gets ill. It is easy to forget that melons grow on the ground. They are exposed to pests and microorganisms from the soil. Here are some tips to safely prepare your melon.
– Select a melon with no imperfections. Damage to rinds can cause mold growth or other bacteria to travel to the inside of the melon. However, a field spot is not an imperfection. The underside of a melon, specifically a watermelon, should have a creamy yellow spot called the field spot where the melon sat on the ground to ripen in the sun.
– Before cutting the melon, wash your hands. Be sure equipment and utensils are clean and sanitized, including your sink.
– Place the melon under running water and scrub the outside rind with a produce brush. Wash your hands again if needed.
– Cut the melon and rinse the pieces as you go. Serve immediately. Store any cut melon leftovers in the refrigerator.
Sanitizing can be done with purchased solutions, but an easy homemade mixture is one teaspoon of unscented chlorine bleach in one quart of water. To sanitize a sink, pour the mixture into the sink and let it sit at least one minute and then rinse well with hot running water. You can sanitize a cutting board by submerging it in the sink when it is filled with the bleach solution. Let the cutting board soak for one minute and then rinse with hot running water. Countertops can be sanitized by spreading the above solution on the counter and letting it stand one minute before rinsing. You can use a sanitizing spray or wipes after the countertop is washed with soap and water for an additional safety measure. Most people would not consider washing a melon before cutting it up to serve, especially if it is an over-sized watermelon, yet safety measures must be taken. Foodborne illness is nothing to mess with, so be sure to follow the easy steps for tasty, juicy and safe melons this summer.
If you have other questions concerning food safely or other topics, please contact the K-State Research and Extension – Leavenworth County Office at 913-364-5700, visit us at 613 Holiday Plaza in Lansing or email Chelsi Myer at firstname.lastname@example.org
Chelsi Myer is a family and consumer sciences agent for K-State Research and Extension – Leavenworth County.