A couple of weeks ago, somebody in a Facebook group I’m part of shared an article on the proper (and Southern) way to eat watermelon — with salt. The post garnered 50+ comments from folks all around the country, many of whom loved salting their watermelon ... and many who said they “couldn’t stand it.”
As someone who perks up at any sign of a produce controversy, I was intrigued.
I knew that salting certain fruits was a norm for some people in my family — as kids my mom and her siblings salted luscious wedges of black diamond watermelon and put salt and pepper on cantaloupe, and my grandma has been known to salt grapefruit — but the salt shaker never comes out when it’s watermelon time at our house, so I’d never had this taste experience myself.
But, I thought, maybe my family and Facebook friends are the weird outliers on this issue and other people don’t eat their watermelon this way. So I posed the question to my LinkedIn followers: Do you salt your melon? Watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, or any other variety? Do any of your family or friends?
I was surprised at the number of responses that quickly rolled in.
“Grew up eating watermelon with salt thanks to my Grandpa!” one produce industry member said. “My mom and dad sprinkle salt on their watermelon too ... isn’t that normal?!?”
Well, I guess it is.
“My wife and boys are from Colombia; they salt much of their fruit. Mangoes, watermelons for sure,” someone else said.
“Always salt my melons and oranges,” another replied.
“I had a co-worker who was from Georgia and she salted EVERY piece of fruit,” a former colleague shared. “Peaches, plums ... would even salt lemons and eat them whole (without the peels).”
OK, produce industry folks must know what they’re doing, right? I decided to try this taste sensation for myself ... and I roped Produce Retailer editor Ashley Nickle into trying it with me for an episode of Millennials Eat.
You can watch our reactions for yourself on video here, but I have to say that salted watermelon was a lot more delicious than I’d expected, and it didn’t really even taste salty, as I’d feared it might. The important point, of course, is to not go overboard with the salt — it’s just meant to enhance the flavor and bring out the juicyness of the fruit.
The next day I had two slices of cantaloupe with breakfast — I salted one and put salt and pepper on the other, like my mom did. Again, the salt seemed to heighten the natural sweetness of the melon. The pepper, though, didn’t add much. Maybe I’ll try a little more next time.
Another way many of my LinkedIn commenters said they ate their fruit was with chili-lime seasoning. Ashley and I wanted to compare this topping to the plain salt version, but as I wasn’t able to find any in my store, I guess we’ll save that for another episode.
Until then, I might be the newest convert to melon salting.
Amelia Freidline is The Packer’s designer and copy chief. E-mail her at [email protected].