Selecting High-Quality Melons:
Look for firm-fleshed, well-colored, ripe melons that are free from blemishes and have a symmetrical shape.
Preparing for Freezing:
Cut in half, remove seeds and rind. Cut melons into slices, cubes or balls as desired.
Best Freezing Method(s):
Unsweetened Dry Pack
The simplest and fastest method for freezing melons is to spread them in a single layer on a cookie sheet and tray freeze them until firm. Once firm, transfer to containers or plastic freezer bags. Seal, label and freeze. Leave 1/2 inch of headspace for expansion during freezing.
Sweetened Dry Pack
(good for watermelon and cantaloupe). Add 1 pound of sugar to each 5 pounds of fruit; mix well. Pack in suitable containers. Seal, label and freeze. Leae 1/2 inch of headspace.
The syrup pack method is useful if you plan to serve the melons in desserts or fruit cocktail, because it preserves a fruit's flavor and texture the best. Use a light syrup (9 cups of water or fruit juice to 2 1/4 cups sugar). Combine sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil until the sugar is dissolved. Chill. Pour 1/2 cup of syrup into the freezer container and add melon. If necessary, add more syrup until melon is covered and place a small piece of water-resistant paper on top to keep them submerged. Leave 1/2 inch headspace for pints, 1 inch for quarts.
Freezer containers should be moisture and vapor resistant and should not be prone to cracking or breaking at low temperatures. Containers should provide protection against absorbing flavors or odors and should be easy to label. Suitable packaging for freezing melons includes freezer-grade plastic bags, rigid plastic containers or glass containers.
Maximum Storage Time:
8 to 12 months at 0ºF.
Thaw frozen melons in the refrigerator. Add to dishes or consume with a few ice crystals still remaining.
Tips & Shortcuts:
Melon can also be frozen in a juice pack. Pack fruit in suitable containers. Pour in pineapple juice, orange juice or ginger ale. Seal, label and freeze.
Wrap melon with plastic and place it cut side down on a plate or place in a plastic bag to keep its smell from affecting other foods. Store in the refrigerator for 6 to 8 days.
By Ellen Brown