Cool, sweet, and incredibly refreshing, there’s nothing quite as summery as a slice of melon. Honeydew, watermelon, and cantaloupe are all in season, plus you’ll find specialty melons now like Ambrosia, Crenshaw, and Charentais.

Watermelon is probably the all-around favorite. But after a few sweet slices, you probably find yourself with an overabundance of leftover melon taking up space in your fridge. Here are some cool and fun ways to use it up—they’re perfect for the sultry summer days we’re all trudging through right now.

Watermelon granita: Mash up a bunch of the watermelon in a bowl, and drain off the juice into a separate container. Make sure you have at least 3 cups of juice. Squeeze in the juice of one lime. Chill the juice mixture for about 20 minutes, then pour into a 9x13 baking dish and place in the freezer. After 30 minutes, scrape down the ice crystals forming in the corners and sides. Wait another 30 and repeat. Continue repeating until all the juice has turned into a slush—this will take about 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Serve.

Melon ice pops: Make the same juice blend as above, but add a cup of diced watermelon, or another melon to the mix. Freeze in ice pop molds overnight.

Watermelon liquado: Working off of the same watermelon juice mix, pour 1/2 cup into a tall glass. Fill the rest of the glass with sparkling water and a few cubes off ice. Add a bendy straw and spend a few minutes in your hammock.

Watermelon, feta, and mint salad: Mix 2 cups cubed watermelon with 1/2 cup crumbled feta and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint. Add 1/4 teaspoon each of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. You can serve this over other greens if you like, but I prefer it on its own.

How to pick and store
Choose melons that are mostly blemish-free. There will be a white spot on the underbelly, where the melon was resting on the ground. Pick up the melon—does it feel heavy for its size? If so, it’s a good one, full of juice.

You can store a watermelon at room temperature for up to a week. But remember, room temp isn’t the high 80–90° weather we’ve been having. It’s more like 64–75º. After a week, you’ll need to pop that sucker in the fridge, and once you cut into it, tightly wrap the remaining watermelon in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

One more tip: Wash the outside of the rind with running water before you slice into any type of melon. If there are any bacteria hanging out on the surface, they can be easily transferred to the fruit’s flesh when you cut into it. And let’s face it, getting a foodborne illness will definitely put the kibosh on all your summer fun.

By Frances Largeman-Roth

(PHOTO: ISTOCKPHOTO)