Those melons in the market are so alluring, yet how do you choose a ripe, sweet one to take home? First, pick it up. A melon should feel heavy for its size. Check the skin, it should have no soft spots or discolorations. Then smell it — the melon should be sweet and perfumy. Next, press gently on the blossom end, it should be slightly soft.

What to do with them when you get them home? If the melon is not quite ripe, store it in a paper bag until it ripens. Ripe melons, or those that have been cut should be tightly wrapped and stored in the refrigerator.

Looking for some inspiration to enjoy this late summer favorite? Refresh those last warm days of summer with melon granita. Cut the fruit into chunks, then spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Freeze until very firm. Add chunks to the food processor, along with a bit of sugar and a spritz of freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice. Process until the mixture looks like snow. Garnish with fresh mint.

Or prepare a spicy cold soup:

  1. 1/2 fresh jalapeno chili, seeded and stem removed
  2. 4 cups melon chunks (from about a 4 pound melon)
  3. 1/4 cup fruity white wine (I suggest Gewürtraminer or Reisling)
  4. 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  5. 1 to 2 tablespoons sugar
  6. salt and white pepper to taste

Place jalapeno and about 1 cup of the melon chunks in blender jar. Process until smooth. Add remaining melon, wine, lemon juice and sugar, process until smooth. Adjust seasonings. Chill thoroughly. Serve as a light first course.

Makes about 4 cups soup.