Hand Melons: The Best Melons On Earth?

Discovering local producers with Chef Phil McGrath.

In the early 1980s, I was the corporate chef for an investment company. We had offices on Park Avenue and, during those “go go” economic times, an unlimited budget. Nothing was too good, or too expensive, for our coddled executives and their key clients.  

I was introduced, through a fellow chef, to a produce purveyor named Ezra Gottlieb who ran a boutique business.

It was late summer and I was looking for something refreshing to serve to my discerning diners and melon came to mind. Upon asking what he had to offer, Gottlieb asked, “Have you ever had a Hand melon?” 

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I had never heard of a Hand melon. He boasted they were the best on earth. I asked him to bring some the next day, but he tauntingly replied that there were none on the market yet. 

Of course, when a chef can’t get an elusive ingredient, he wants it more and more. Daily I would ask for the mythical melons, but they never appeared.

Just when I was about to give up hope, they magically materialized. You could tell they were something special when, before you even opened the case, their perfume filled the air. Smooth, light, yellow-green, spider-veined skin encapsulating bright orange flesh. They were and are the most succulent, intensely flavored melons I have ever tasted.

Hand melons are a rare heirloom, Saticoy variety of muskmelon, first planted by Allen F. Hand exclusively on his Greenwich, New York, farm in Washington County, outside of Saratoga Springs, in 1925. 

These beauties can be shipped directly. You’ll know they’re authentic by their white sticker emblazoned with a red hand. Ezra Gottlieb would tell you not to delay; they are a limited luxury unlike any other.

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Hand Melon Farm 
(518) 692-2376 | www.handmelonfarm.com

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