The Rocky Ford Cantaloupe is a sweet and healthy treat for all Coloradans and visitors. Impress your guests with this cool and indulgent spin on a local favorite. Did you know that Rocky Ford cantaloupes typically go from field to market in less than a day? For maximum cool, look for this Colorado Proud logo and Rocky Ford Growers Association sticker!
Since 1887Colorado melon production has been concentrated in the Arkansas Valley, producing some of the highest quality commercial cantaloupe In the United States, people go to Rocky Ford every year to taste the delicious melons, visit the melon fields and take some home. This year’s Melon Day, celebrated annually at the Arkansas Valley Fair, falls on Saturday, August 20, so be sure to stop by if you’re in the area.
Researchers say Rocky Ford melons are sweet due to the large temperature swings the region experiences during the summer. Days can reach 100°F while nights can have lows in the 50s. The combination of hot weather, dry weather and high elevation (more than 4,000 feet above sea level from the sea) can increase sugar production. Cool Colorado nights then allow sugars to build up in the melons as the growth process slows
Each month, the Colorado Department of Agriculture features a different agricultural product to highlight the variety and quality of produce grown and raised in the state. For the month of August, Chef Jason Morse of 5280 Culinary brings us a fresh treat to enjoy.
Chef Jason says, “Sweet and juicy Colorado cantaloupe just got even better with the help of simple syrup and the freezer. Take a break from the heat with this cool and refreshing take on sorbet. Good food !”
Chef Jason K. Morse, CEC, 5280 Culinary, LLC and Ace Hardware Grill Expert
Yield: ½ gallon Granita (for 10-12 people)
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Freezing time: 3 hours (approximately) stir every 30 minutes using 2 large dinner forks
1 Colorado cantaloupe, 2 to 3 lbs, washed, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice or lime juice
½ cup granulated cane sugar
½ cup of water
1 tbsp vanilla, paste or extract
To make simple syrup:
Put ½ cup of water in a small saucepan
Add to stove and turn heat to medium-high
Add the sugar and cook until completely dissolved
Turn off the heat and remove the pan
Let the mixture cool for 10 minutes
Add the vanilla and mix well
Place in the refrigerator and let cool completely for 1 hour
Make simple syrup – see above
Wash, rinse and dry the cantaloupe
Peel, seed and cut the cantaloupe
Place cantaloupe in blender and close lid, recheck lid
Add simple syrup
Pulse the mixture by starting and stopping.
Then turn on high and blend for 30 seconds or until smooth
Place the granita mixture in a rimmed baking sheet
Put in the freezer and freeze for 30 minutes
Remove and stir the granita to start making flakes
Return to freezer and repeat this process every 30 minutes
Total time should be 3 hours, or until completely frozen and flaky
Pick up and serve
Leftovers (if you have any!) can be stored covered in the freezer for up to 1 week.
If you are of legal drinking age and want to add a splash of alcohol, use one of the many local brands you can find in Colorado, such as: Jones House Vodka. They support local farmers and ranchers by using local grains. Keep it alcohol-free? Try a refreshing kombucha from happy leaf made in the greater Denver area.
Visit ColoradoProud.org for a full list of recipes.
Colorado Proud is a Colorado Department of Agriculture program that promotes food and agricultural products grown, raised, or manufactured in Colorado. The program’s 2,900 members include growers, processors, schools, restaurants and retailers across the state.