June 29th-July 1st 2020 – A melons story

Alas…the season for Gadi & Tamir’s spectacular blueberries is coming to an end. In just a few weeks we will be forced to part from these deliciously sweet little delights. But, there’s good news, too—Blueberries freeze beautifully! Now is the time to stock up on and freeze the blueberries that will continue to delight your palate for another few months.     Order now!!!

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Spider-God
where are you coming from…?
(And who knew you were such a melon lover?)

This week, in honor of our melons, watermelons and the beginning of school vacation, we conclude our trilogy of Chubeza’s summer fruit patch with a sweet, funny tale about Anansi the Spider and the talking melon.

But before we begin, some information about Anansi the Spider:

Anansi is a West-African spider-god, the son of Asaase Yaa, goddess of Earth and fertility, and Nyame, god of the sky. Anansi is one of the most popular characters of West African folklore. As a cultural hero, Anansi was regarded as the creator of the sun, moon, and stars, and thus responsible for day and night. In some stories, Anansi created the first human being, and his father, Nyame, breathed life into him. Assuming the role of the customary trickster, Anansi can be a sly, cunning quarrel-monger, but he also teaches humans how to sow grains and to work the fields with a shovel.  In modern culture, Anansi  appeared in the Marvel Comics series (The Amazing Spider-Man, vol. II (2003).  In The Amazing Spider-Man volume 2 (2003), it is revealed that Anansi was in fact the very first Spider-Man, antecedent to all human spiders. Our story this week is an adaptation of a popular Anansi tale (written by the talented Eric Kimmel and Janet Stevens.)

Anansi and the Talking Melon

Early one morning, Anansi the spider sat on his thorny Acacia tree observing Elephant hoeing his melon patch. Anansi adored melons, and as he peered down at Elephant’s garden, he could actually hear the melons beckoning to him: “See how sweet and juicy we are! Come eat us!” Since Anansi loved melons but was too lazy to grow them, he sat atop his acacia tree and waited patiently as the sun moved along high in the sky and the day warmed up till by the afternoon it was too hot to work, and Elephant set down his pitchfork and went home for a refreshing nap.

This was just the moment Anansi was waiting for: he broke off one of the spiky branches and used it to jump down into the melon patch. Then, he used the thorn to pierce a hole in the biggest, ripest melon, climbed into it and began to gobble away. He ate so much that he became round as a cherry. “Man, I’m stuffed,” said Anansi finally, “Elephant will be back soon, I’d better leave now.”

Except than when he tried to climb out, an unfortunate surprise became evident: he was much too fat to fit through the hole which was just right for a skinny spider, but too small for a chubby round creature like himself. “I’m stuck!” said Anansi finally, “I simply cannot climb out. I’ll just have to sit here till I lose weight and go back to my svelte figure.”

Anansi perched himself on a pile of seeds within the melon and waited as time slowly crawled by.

“Boy, am I bored!” thought Anansi, “I wish I had something to do to pass the time.”

Just then he could hear Elephant return to the garden, and an idea sprung into his head. “When Elephant draws near, I will talk and Elephant will think this is a talking melon. What a laugh I will have then!”

When Elephant arrived at his melon patch, he was smitten by the beautiful big, ripe melon and he lifted it off the ground.

“Ouch!” cried Anansi.

“Who said that?” exclaimed the startled Elephant.
“It was I, your Melon,” answered Anansi.

“I didn’t know melons could talk!” cried Elephant in wonder.

“Sure, we can talk. We talk all the time, but the problem is you human beings never listen.”

“I can’t believe my own ears!” exclaimed Elephant, “A talking melon! Who knew? I must show him to the king!”

Elephant ran down the street clutching the watermelon hosting Anansi. On the way he bumped into Hippo.

“Where are taking that melon?” asked Hippo.

“To the king,” said Elephant

“Why? The king’s got a thousand melons!”

“Not like this one,” said Elephant, “This is a talking melon.”

Hippo did not believe Elephant. “What are you talking about? What a ridiculous idea. As ridiculous as…”

“…a skinny hippo,” retorted the melon.

Hippo was so angry his face was crimson. “Who just said that? Did you say that, Elephant?”

“It wasn’t me. It was the melon!” replied Elephant, “I told you it talks. Now do you believe me?”

“I believe you!” cried Hippo, “I wanna come along to see what the king has to say after he hears the talking melon.”

“Come along then,” said Elephant, and they set off on their way with the melon.

On their way they met a warthog.

“Hey, guys,” said the warthog, “Where are you taking that melon?”

“We’re taking it to the king,” said Elephant and Hippo in unison.

“What for? The king has a thousand of melons,” replied Warthog.

“Not like this one,” said Hippo, “This melon talks! I heard it with my very own ears.”

“A talking melon?” Warthog laughed, “That’s as ridiculous as…”

“… a good lookin warthog,” voiced the melon.

Warthog was so infuriated his whole body shook. “Who said that? Did you, Elephant? Did you Hippo?”

“Of course not!” they responded, “It was the melon. Now do you believe us?”

“I do!” said Warthog, “Please let me come along. I want to see how the king reacts to this talking melon.”

So, Warthog, Elephant and Hippo resumed their journey with the melon.

On their way they met an ostrich, a rhinoceros and a turtle who did not believe the melon could talk until they heard him and joined the group headed to the king’s castle.

When the animals arrived at their destination, Elephant bowed and placed the melon at the king’s feet.

“Why are you bringing me a melon?” asked the king, “I have one thousand melons growing in my garden.”

“But not like this one,” replied Elephant, “This melon can talk!”

“Oh, come on. There is no such thing as a talking melon,” said the king shoving the melon with his foot.

But the melon did not say a word.

“Melon,” said the king a little louder, “There’s no reason to be shy. Say whatever you want, I just want to hear you talk.”

But the melon remained silent.

The king was losing his patience. “Melon, if you can talk, I want you to say something. I command you to talk!”

Silence.

“That’s one stupid melon,” the king gave up.

And that was when the melon spoke.

“I’m the stupid one? Why would you say such a thing? Am I the one talking to a melon?”

The animals had never seen the king so angry. “How dare this melon insult me like that?” he yelled, lifting up the melon and tossing it far.

The melon jumped and rolled all the way to Elephant’s home when, Bam! It crashed into the acacia tree and split open.

Anansi collected himself from within the pieces of rind and climbed out. All that excitement had made him skinny again, and now that he was skinny, well – he was hungry! He climbed on the banana tree, sat in the middle of a ripe bunch and started wolfing away.

When Elephant returned, he made a beeline for the melon patch.

“You melons got me in trouble with the king,” said Elephant, “From now on, you can talk as much as you want, but I won’t listen to a word you say!”

“Good for you, Elephant,” cried out Anansi from his perch on the banana tree, “We bananas should have warned you of talking melons. They are nothing but trouble!”

—————-

Wishing you a sweet, juicy and pleasant summer, full of laughter, friends and stories. And last but not least – good health!

Enjoy your weekend
From all of us at Chubeza

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BASIL!

This week, some of the boxes contain fresh basil! In future we will write about it in depth, but for now, here’s how to store the basil: Snip off the ends of the stems and place the basil leaves in a glass of water filled to height of the lowest leaf. Place in a well-lit spot. On the first day, cover with a perforated plastic bag.

WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Zucchini, lettuce, cherry tomatoes, melon/watermelon, cucumbers, tomatoes, yellow or green string beans/slice of pumpkin, corn, parsley, eggplant/ fakus/potatoes, New Zealand spinach/Swiss chard.

Large box, in addition: Scallions/leeks/garlic, basil/coriander, butternut squash/acorn squash/Amoro pumpkin

FRUIT BOXES: Bananas, plums, mango. Small box, in addition: Apples. Large box, in addition: Nectarines.

Wednesday: Zucchini, lettuce, cherry tomatoes/slice of pumpkin, melon/watermelon, cucumbers, tomatoes, corn, parsley/coriander, eggplant/fakus/potatoes, New Zealand spinach/Swiss chard, butternut squash/acorn squash/Amoro pumpkin.

Large box, in addition: Scallions/fresh onions/leeks/garlic, basil, yellow or green string beans/Thai long beans.

FRUIT BOXES: Apples, plums/nectarines, grapes. Small box, in addition: Bananas. Large box, in addition: peaches.

June 22nd-24th 2020 – And then came summer…

And in the spirit of seasonal renewal, the Iza Pziza dairy has added a new cheese to its outstanding assortment: Sigal Wine-Soaked Cheese, a half-hard young Pecorino-style cheese soaked in red wine and vacuum packed (26% fat).

Price: 33.50 NIS per 150 grams

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To sweeten these hot days, it’s time for a super Barhi date sale:

For the next few weeks, enjoy absolutely delectable Barhi dates at 5 kg for just 130 NIS (reduced from 150 NIS)!

The amazing Barhi is small, sweet and ever so soft. Its caramel-like flavor inspired the growers at Kibbutz Samar to term it “Nature’s toffee.” Perfect for a healthy pick-me-up, fruit shakes, baking and of course – as is.

Bon appetite! Stay healthy!

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A woman once lived in a huge watermelon
With a lamp, chair and stools that set her a’kvellin’
She carved out a window, a living room too
Built a wardrobe and hung up a painting in blue
Bought a cat to catch mice – but at break of dawn
Woke up to discover the season was gone

(Nurit Zarchi, Translated [loosely] by Aliza Raz)
Illustration: Yossi Abulafia

I have a sneaking suspicion that this woman actually resided in Chubeza’s watermelon field, though it’s hard to imagine her fitting all of her belongings into our small-sized models. Yet, the feeling of the watermelon season ending so abruptly is as too familiar to us. Watermelon season at Chubeza is really short – approximately a month – so before it ends, we want to share some fascinating facts about the wonderful watermelon. This week’s Newsletter is green and red all over…

Summer officially arrived this week, and though this spring has been very gentle and (mostly) not-too-hot, we know without a doubt that the hot, heavy days are just around the corner. Yet while we moan and groan about the oppressive heat, the watermelon remains unfazed. It just loves the heat, a throwback to its origins in the southern part of the African continent, the Kalahari Desert. In the scorching desert, the watermelon, boasting a more-than-90% water content, was an important and vital source of liquid to humankind and wild animals. The difficulty in choosing a good watermelon is an old story. Even in its wild form, the sweet watermelon is identical on the outside to a bitter watermelon, necessitating the thirsty passerby to punch a hole in the watermelon rind to test its taste.

From South Africa, the watermelon spread across the African continent, and was cultivated in Egypt over 4,000 years ago. Ancient Egyptians drew depictions of watermelons to decorate sarcophagi and cave walls, and they would leave a watermelon near the dead to nourish them on their journey to the New World. The Hebrews knew it from Egypt, reminiscing, “We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons…”

From North Africa, the watermelon entered the Middle East where it grew well and was even mentioned several times in the Mishna. It arrived in China in the 10th century, and today China is the champion watermelon grower, followed closely by Turkey and Iran. In the 13th century, the Moors brought it with them to Europe, along with other plants they met in Africa and Asia. The watermelon arrived in America with the African slaves and the European settlers.

Chubeza’s love affair with watermelons began with naiveté, pretentiousness, and… failure. During my last year in California, just before I established Chubeza, I raised red, orange and yellow watermelons (the inside colors) in a farm owned by Joe Perry, my mentor. We had nice success with the yields, leading me to believe that growing watermelon would be simple, so I added watermelon to Chubeza’s nascent crop list. The first year, the watermelons simply did not grow, and we only harvested a few dozen from our fancy beds. Fortunately, back in 2004, our entire clientele also numbered a few dozen, so they received the watermelons as planned (which, admittedly, weren’t too sweet). One of the main reasons for this failure was the timing. I seeded watermelons like we did in California, at the end of spring. Yet springtime in Israel is fraught with viruses and disease, particularly among the cucurbit family to which our watermelon friend belongs.

After taking a hiatus of several years, chalking up experience with cucurbits and their viruses, we decided to try again, this time calibrated to precede the viruses. Thus, nine years ago we made a second watermelon attempt. This time we seeded earlier, resulting in a larger yield. A year later we did even better, and seven years ago we dared to plant seedless watermelon varieties. This sort of watermelon-growing is more complex than raising a standard seed-filled watermelon, for we are essentially trying to buck nature. The mission of every fruit and vegetable is to reproduce and generate offspring (seeds). Wo/man, meanwhile, is bent on getting rid of the watermelon seeds, and not by spitting them out. Modern-day human beings had grown weary of seeded fruits and set out to develop seedless varieties. Actually, a seedless watermelon does contain some tiny seeds, however most are transparent as well as infertile. You must admit this is strange, to try to develop a fruit which cannot produce seeds or offspring. On one hand, a vast scientific effort is being placed upon refining and improving human fertilization via IVF, freezing embryos and sperm, surrogates, etc., while simultaneously we are encouraging sterility in fruits.

So how do these “seedless” watermelons grow year after year? Regular watermelon seeds are diploid seeds, i.e., containing two sets of X chromosomes. Those used in order to produce seedless watermelons are tetraploid, possessing four sets of X chromosomes. Seedless watermelon seeds have a harder than average shell, which is why it is more difficult to grow the melons from seeds. In most cases, they are planted as transplants that were started in the nursery under controlled conditions. The tetraploid seeds sprout and become plants that will generate leaves and flowers but no fruit, unless they’re fertilized from flowers of a regular seeded watermelon. Therefore, you must plant one row of regular watermelons for every three to four rows of seedless ones. During pollination, each seed contributes half of its chromosomes: 1+2, resulting in a fruit whose seeds are tetraploid, possessing three sets of chromosomes. This uneven number disrupts the seed’s ability to reproduce, and ultimately sterilizes it. Thus, we receive a fruit which is juicy and sturdier than its seeded friends, but it evolved from the “virgin birth” of an unfertilized cell. It’s called a “Parthenocarpic fruit,” in essence, the mule of the botanical world…

Human beings are not alone in adoring the watermelon, which is also loved by animals and, of course, birds. More specifically, intrepid sweet-toothed hard-beaked blackbirds. We protect our fruits with a passion, otherwise, we find them looking like this:

Which is when we cover the bed with a bird’s net preventing the blackbirds from feasting on this red, juicy delight. And this year we are going for double protection – with nets on the bottom and a tireless bird scarecrow hovering above.

For those who might have might have missed it:

Basically, it is a kite shaped like a big vulture, fastened on a flexible 6-meter telescopic pole. This kite soars with even the gentlest breeze, flying in a manner that imitates the flight of birds of prey. Its random, varying aviation patterns prevent the harmful birds from getting accustomed to it. Which is why they continue to keep their distance: It looks too close to the real vulture (even fools us sometimes…) Don’t take our word for it, go ahead and judge for yourselves. Here it is:

Watermelon is a healing fruit. Its ample water content cleanses the body, making watermelon juice frequently recommended for those suffering from bladder and liver deficiencies. It is also beneficial for cleansing the kidneys. Watermelon even helps to clean the body of cigarette smoke – highly recommended for active and passive smokers alike.

Traditional Yemenite folk cures use watermelon seeds to rid bad breath and stains from the teeth and mouth. Crush the seeds well, immerse them in water, and then strain for a super mouthwash. In Iraq, watermelon rind is used to treat fungal infections. Libyan Jews are known to rub their skin with watermelon rind to lighten age spots. Watermelon contains vitamin A in the form of carotenoid, vitamin C, and vitamins from the B group as well (B1 and B2). It is low in nitrogen and high in potassium. Further information about the nutritional and therapeutic virtues of our round, red, delicious friend can be found here (Hebrew).

So… how does one select a ripe, sweet watermelon?

–       We pick the watermelon at its ripest, when the tendril near the stem dries up. Therefore, when choosing a watermelon at the stand, look for the drier and slightly withered stem, indicating that the watermelon wasn’t picked while green.

–       The part that comes in contact with the ground changes its color to yellow, so you should look for a yellow (not white) spot on one of the watermelon sides.

–       And the most mysterious signal of all: if you tap on the fruit, you will hear a dim echo reverberating back to you.

Check out this live demonstration

How to store a watermelon:

The best temperature to store a watermelon is 12°C, but even at room temperature (23°) the watermelon will keep for a week to 10 days. Don’t overdo it, though. A watermelon stored for too long will lose its taste and change its texture.

It is not recommended to freeze a watermelon or store it in the cooler compartments of your fridge. Overexposure to cold can cause frostbite, taking a toll on the watermelon’s flavor and making the inside soft and powdery. To store it after slicing open, wrap in plastic wrap and store at a temperature of 3-4°.

And once you have that excellent watermelon, slice it, add mint and feta cheese, and sit back and enjoy this spectacular summer treat, while reading a collection of surprising, interesting and humorous facts about watermelons (Hebrew)

Check out our recipe section for interesting things to do with watermelon, if any is left after slicing into cubes and devoured on the spot.

Enjoy!

Alon, Bat Ami, Dror, Orin, and the Summertime Chubeza Team

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Zucchini, butternut squash/acorn squash, melon/watermelon, cucumbers, tomatoes, Amoro pumpkin/slice of pumpkin, corn, parsley/coriander, string beans, New Zealand spinach/Swiss chard. Small boxes only: cherry tomatoes.

Large box, in addition: Scallions/leeks/garlic, eggplant/potatoes, beets/ fakus, lettuce.

FRUIT BOXES: Apples, bananas, nectarines. Small box, Also: CherriesLarge box, Also: Flat peaches

Wednesday: Zucchini, melon/watermelon, cucumbers, tomatoes, Amoro pumpkin/slice of pumpkin, corn, parsley/coriander, string beans, New Zealand spinach/Swiss chard, eggplant/fakus, lettuce.

Large box, in addition: Scallions/leeks/onions, beets/butternut squash/acorn squash, cherry tomatoes..

FRUIT BOXES: Apples/cherries, bananas, nectarines, grapes

July 1st-3rd 2019 – A mouthwatering wonder

NEW FROM ISH SHEL LECHEM (“The Bread Man”)

Three new, delicious types of crackers made from organic whole flour and seeds. Great to nosh straight from the package, or topped with your favorite spread.

Each cracker & its own special style:
Whole spelt crackers – with sesame & nigella seeds
Whole rye cracker – with sunflower & flax seeds
Teff cracker (gluten free!) – with sesame, sunflower­ seeds & a touch of curry

Each variety comes in 150-gram packages, now ready to arrive direct to your Chubeza box for delivery!

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There was once a woman, let’s call her Helen
Who made her home in a watermelon
She brought in two stools, a chair and a broom, 
Carved out a window and a living room, 
Bought a cat to catch mice and named him Grover
Then all of a sudden… the season was over…

 

(Nurit Zarchi, Translated by A. Raz)

Illustration: Yossi Abulafia

 I have a sneaking suspicion that this woman actually resided in Chubeza’s watermelon field, though it’s hard to imagine her fitting all of her belongings into our small-sized models. Yet, the feeling of the watermelon season ending so abruptly is as too familiar to us. Watermelon season at Chubeza is really short – approximately a month – so before it ends, we want to share some fascinating facts about the wonderful watermelon. This week’s Newsletter is green and red all over…

Summer officially arrived ten days ago, and the hot, heavy days are becoming more and more prevalent. But while we moan and groan about the oppressive heat, the watermelon remains unfazed. It just loves the heat, a throwback to its origins in the southern part of the African continent, the Kalahari Desert. In the scorching desert, the watermelon, boasting a more-than-90% water content, was an important and vital source of liquid to humankind and wild animals. The difficulty in choosing a good watermelon is an old story. Even in its wild form, the sweet watermelon is identical on the outside to a bitter watermelon, which is why the thirsty passerby would punch a hole in the watermelon rind to test its taste.

From South Africa, the watermelon spread across the African continent, and was cultivated in Egypt over 4,000 years ago. Ancient Egyptians drew depictions of watermelons to decorate sarcophagi and cave walls, and they would leave a watermelon near the dead to nourish them on their journey to the New World. The Hebrews knew it from Egypt, reminiscing, “We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons…”

From North Africa, the watermelon entered the Middle East where it grew well and was even mentioned several times in the Mishna. It arrived in China in the 10th century, and today China is the champion watermelon grower, followed closely by Turkey and Iran. In the 13th century, the Moors brought it with them to Europe, along with other plants they met in Africa and Asia. The watermelon arrived in America with the black slaves and the European settlers.

Chubeza’s love affair with watermelons began with naiveté, pretentiousness, and… failure. During my last year in California, just before I established Chubeza, I raised red, orange and yellow watermelons (these are the colors inside) in a farm owned by Joe Perry, my mentor. We had nice success with the yields, and I was under the impression that growing watermelon would be simple, so I added watermelon to Chubeza’s nascent crop list. The first year, the watermelons simply did not grow, and we only picked a few dozen from our fancy beds. Fortunately, back in 2004, our entire clientele also numbered a few dozen, so they received the watermelons as planned (which, admittedly, weren’t too sweet). One of the main reasons for this failure was the timing. I seeded watermelons like we did in California, at the end of spring. Yet springtime in Israel is fraught with viruses and disease, particularly among the cucurbit family to which our watermelon friend belongs.

After taking a hiatus of several years, chalking up experience with cucurbits and their viruses, we made a second watermelon attempt eight years ago. This time we seeded earlier, resulting in a larger yield. A year later we did even better, and six years ago we dared to plant seedless watermelon varieties. This sort of watermelon-growing is more complex than raising a standard seed-filled watermelon, for we are essentially trying to buck nature. The mission of every fruit and vegetable is to reproduce and generate offspring (seeds). Wo/man, meanwhile, is bent on getting rid of the watermelon seeds, and not by spitting them out. Modern-day human beings had grown weary of seeded fruits and set out to develop seedless varieties. Actually, a seedless watermelon does contain some tiny seeds, however most are transparent as well as infertile. You must admit this is strange, to try to develop a fruit which cannot produce seeds or offspring. On one hand, a vast scientific effort is being placed upon refining and improving human fertilization via IVF, freezing embryos and sperm, surrogates, etc., while simultaneously we are encouraging sterility in fruits.

So how do these “seedless” watermelons work? Regular watermelon seeds are diploid seeds, i.e., containing two sets of X chromosomes. Those used in order to produce seedless watermelons are tetraploid, possessing four sets of X chromosomes. Seedless watermelon seeds have a harder than average shell, which is why it is more difficult to grow the melons from seeds. In most cases, they are planted as transplants that were started in the nursery under controlled conditions. The tetraploid seeds sprout and become plants that will generate leaves and flowers but no fruit, unless they’re fertilized from flowers of a regular seeded watermelon. Therefore, you must plant one row of regular watermelons for every three to four rows of seedless ones. During pollination, each seed contributes half of its chromosomes: 1+2, resulting in a fruit whose seeds are tetraploid, possessing three sets of chromosomes. This uneven number disrupts the seed’s ability to reproduce, and ultimately sterilizes it. Thus we receive a fruit which is juicy and sturdier than its seeded friends, but it evolved from the “virgin birth” of an unfertilized cell. It’s called a “Parthenocarpic fruit,” in essence, the mule of the botanical world…

Human beings are not alone in adoring the watermelon, which is also loved by animals and, of course, birds. More specifically, intrepid sweet-toothed hard-beaked blackbirds. We protect our fruits with a passion, otherwise, we find them looking like this:

Which is when we cover the bed with a bird’s net preventing the blackbirds from feasting on this red, juicy delight.

Watermelon is a healing fruit. Its high water content cleanses the body, making watermelon juice well-recommended for those suffering from bladder and liver deficiencies. It is also beneficial for cleansing the kidneys. Watermelon even helps to clean the body of cigarette smoke – highly recommended for active and passive smokers alike.

Traditional Yemenite folk cures use watermelon seeds to rid bad breath and stains from the teeth and mouth. Crush the seeds well, immerse them in water, and then strain for a super mouthwash. In Iraq, watermelon rind is used to treat fungal infections. Libyan Jews are known to rub their skin with watermelon rind to lighten age spots. Watermelon contains vitamin A in the form of carotenoid, vitamin C, and vitamins from the B group as well (B1 and B2). It is low in nitrogen and high in potassium.

Further information about the nutritional and therapeutic virtues of our round, red, delicious friend can be found here (Hebrew).

So… how does one select a ripe, sweet watermelon?

–       We pick the watermelon at its ripest, when the tendril near the stem dries up. Therefore, when choosing a watermelon at the stand, look for the drier stem, indicating that the watermelon wasn’t picked while green.

–       The part that comes in contact with the ground changes its color to yellow, so you should look for a yellow (not white) spot on one of the watermelon sides.

–       And the most mysterious signal of all: if you tap on the fruit, you will hear a dim sound reverberating back to you.

Check out this live demonstration

How to store a watermelon:

The best temperature to store a watermelon is 12°C, but even at room temperature (23°) the watermelon will keep for a week to 10 days. Don’t overdo it, though. A watermelon stored for too long will lose its taste and change its texture.

It is not recommended to freeze a watermelon or store it in the cooler compartments of your fridge. Overexposure to cold can cause frostbite, taking a toll on the watermelon’s flavor and making the inside soft and powdery. To store it after slicing open, wrap in plastic wrap and store at a temperature of 3-4°.

And once you have that excellent watermelon, slice it, add mint and feta cheese, and sit back and enjoy this spectacular summer treat, while reading a collection of surprising, interesting and humorous facts about watermelons (Hebrew)

Check out our recipe section for interesting things to do with watermelon, aside from slicing cubes and red smileys and devouring it on the spot. Enjoy!

Alon, Bat Ami, Dror, Orin, Yochai and the Chubeza team

__________________________________________________

WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Corn/red or green peppers, acorn squash, lettuce, melon/watermelon, cucumbers, tomatoes, potatoes, butternut squash/a piece of Napoli pumpkin, eggplants, green beans/cherry tomatoes, zucchini/fakus.

Large box also: Swiss chard/New Zealand spinach, leek/scallions, parsley.

Fruit box: Mango, banana, plums. Small boxes: watermelon. Large boxes: nectarines.

Wednesday: Potatoes, tomatoes, acorn squash, eggplants, Amoro squash/butternut squash/a piece of Napoli pumpkin, parsley/cilantro, melon/watermelon, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce. Small boxes only: corn.

Large boxes also: Swiss chard/New Zealand spinach, leek/scallions/garlic, zucchini/fakus, green beans/yard long beans.

Fruit box: Mango, watermelon, grapes. Small boxes: banana. Large boxes: plums.

June 25th-27th 2018 – A mouthwatering wonder

This week we welcome back our old friends Didi and Shira Amosi of the Tene Yarok farm, who have returned with their excellent-quality organic olive oil. I asked them to kindly contribute a few words about themselves, and this is what they wrote:

In Tene Yarok (Hebrew for “Green Basket”), an organic farm located in the northern Jordan Valley, we grow a select variety of olives: picholine, picual, leccino, barnea, cortina, koroneiki and Syrian. Each species has its own flavor and distinctive character.

Those who remember us from previous years as Chubeza associates must be wondering where we disappeared to. Well, we didn’t actually disappear, or rather, we almost did…

Three years ago, during the sabbatical year of Shmita, we decided to adopt the beautiful Jewish notion of abandoning the field to allow the needy and all to enjoy the blessings and harvest the olive yield to their hearts’ desire. In addition, Shmita is meant to allow the earth and trees a period of rest from cultivation and treatment. So we chose not to earn a living from the olives during Shmita.

But the olive tree is an alternate bearing tree: one year it produces a larger yield, followed by a much smaller yield the next year. Since during Shmita the trees were bursting with olives, the consecutive year bore nearly none. Additionally, much of the fruit was unharvested during Shmita, and the remaining fruit left to shrivel on the trees harmed their productivity. Hence, we paid the price of Shmita for some three years, causing us to take a leave of absence from the olive oil business over that period.

To our great joy, this year we were blessed with an outstanding yield. The olives were harvested on time and the oil left the olive press fresh, clear and of excellent quality. We submitted our oil to a national competition and were thrilled to come in first, granting us the title of the best organic olive oil in Israel. Later, our oil attended an international competition in Italy, where it received the “Double Gold Medal” – the highest rank ever received by Israeli olive oil in this competition.

The oil is marketed at three levels (priced accordingly):

Blend – High-quality blend suitable for the average palate – 48 NIS for a 0.750 liter bottle/203 NIS for a 4 liter can

Variety – Picual/Leccino/Syrian – Choose your favorite flavor of olive oil – 54 NIS for 0.750 liter bottle

Gold – Oil produced from the Picholine species, awarded the best oil in Israel of this type. You’ll believe it when you taste it! – 60 NIS for 0.750 liter bottle.

Enjoy!

Didi and Shira Amosi, The Tene Yarok Farm

(Don’t wait! Go straight to the Chubeza Order System to purchase these amazing products, delivered in your box.)

_____________________________________

There was once a woman, let’s call her Helen
Who made her home in a watermelon
She brought in two stools, a chair and a broom, 
Carved out a window and a living room, 
Bought a cat to catch mice and named him Grover
Then all of a sudden… the season was over…

 

(Nurit Zarchi, Translated by A. Raz)

Illustration: Yossi Abulafia

 I have a sneaking suspicion that this woman actually resided in Chubeza’s watermelon field, though it’s hard to imagine her fitting all of her belongings into our small-sized models. Yet, the feeling of the watermelon season ending so abruptly is as too familiar to us. Watermelon season at Chubeza is really short – approximately a month – so before it ends, we want to share some fascinating facts about the wonderful watermelon. This week’s Newsletter is green and red all over…

Summer officially arrived last Thursday, and the hot, heavy days are becoming more and more prevalent. But while we moan and groan about the oppressive heat, the watermelon remains unfazed. It just loves the heat, a throwback to its origins in the southern part of the African continent, the Kalahari Desert. In the scorching desert, the watermelon, boasting a more-than-90% water content, was an important and vital source of liquid to humankind and wild animals. The difficulty in choosing a good watermelon is an old story. Even in its wild form, the sweet watermelon is identical on the outside to a bitter watermelon, which is why the thirsty passerby would punch a hole in the watermelon rind to test its taste.

From South Africa, the watermelon spread across the African continent, and was cultivated in Egypt over 4,000 years ago. Ancient Egyptians drew depictions of watermelons to decorate sarcophagi and cave walls, and they would leave a watermelon near the dead to nourish them on their journey to the New World. The Hebrews knew it from Egypt, reminiscing, “We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons…”

From North Africa, the watermelon entered the Middle East where it grew well and was even mentioned several times in the Mishna. It arrived in China in the 10th century, and today China is the champion watermelon grower, followed closely by Turkey and Iran. In the 13th century, the Moors brought it with them to Europe, along with other plants they met in Africa and Asia. The watermelon arrived in America with the black slaves and the European settlers.

Chubeza’s love affair with watermelons began with naiveté, pretentiousness, and… failure. During my last year in California, just before I established Chubeza, I raised red, orange and yellow watermelons (these are the colors inside) in a farm owned by Joe Perry, my mentor. We had nice success with the yields, and I was under the impression that growing watermelon would be simple, so I added watermelon to Chubeza’s nascent crop list. The first year, the watermelons simply did not grow, and we only picked a few dozen from our fancy beds. Fortunately, back in 2004, our entire clientele also numbered a few dozen, so they received the watermelons as planned (which, admittedly, weren’t too sweet). One of the main reasons for this failure was the timing. I seeded watermelons like we did in California, at the end of spring. Yet springtime in Israel is fraught with viruses and disease, particularly among the cucurbit family to which our watermelon friend belongs.

After taking a hiatus of several years, chalking up experience with cucurbits and their viruses, we made a second watermelon attempt eight years ago. This time we seeded earlier, resulting in a larger yield. A year later we did even better, and six years ago we dared to plant seedless watermelon varieties. This sort of watermelon-growing is more complex than raising a standard seed-filled watermelon, for we are essentially trying to buck nature. The mission of every fruit and vegetable is to reproduce and generate offspring (seeds). Wo/man, meanwhile, is bent on getting rid of the watermelon seeds, and not by spitting them out. Modern-day human beings had grown weary of seeded fruits and set out to develop seedless varieties. Actually, a seedless watermelon does contain some tiny seeds, however most are transparent as well as infertile. You must admit this is strange, to try to develop a fruit which cannot produce seeds or offspring. On one hand, a vast scientific effort is being placed upon refining and improving human fertilization via IVF, freezing embryos and sperm, surrogates, etc., while simultaneously we are encouraging sterility in fruits.

So how do these “seedless” watermelons work? Regular watermelon seeds are diploid seeds, i.e., containing two sets of X chromosomes. Those used in order to produce seedless watermelons are tetraploid, possessing four sets of X chromosomes. Seedless watermelon seeds have a harder than average shell, which is why it is more difficult to grow the melons from seeds. In most cases, they are planted as transplants that were started in the nursery under controlled conditions. The tetraploid seeds sprout and become plants that will generate leaves and flowers but no fruit, unless they’re fertilized from flowers of a regular seeded watermelon. Therefore, you must plant one row of regular watermelons for every three to four rows of seedless ones. During pollination, each seed contributes half of its chromosomes: 1+2, resulting in a fruit whose seeds are tetraploid, possessing three sets of chromosomes. This uneven number disrupts the seed’s ability to reproduce, and ultimately sterilizes it. Thus we receive a fruit which is juicy and sturdier than its seeded friends, but it evolved from the “virgin birth” of an unfertilized cell. It’s called a “Parthenocarpic fruit,” in essence, the mule of the botanical world…

Human beings are not alone in adoring the watermelon, which is also loved by animals and, of course, birds. More specifically, intrepid sweet-toothed hard-beaked blackbirds. We protect our fruits with a passion, otherwise, we find them looking like this:

Which is when we cover the bed with a bird’s net preventing the blackbirds from feasting on this red, juicy delight.

Watermelon is a healing fruit. Its high water content cleanses the body, making watermelon juice well-recommended for those suffering from bladder and liver deficiencies. It is also beneficial for cleansing the kidneys. Watermelon even helps to clean the body of cigarette smoke – highly recommended for active and passive smokers alike.

Traditional Yemenite folk cures use watermelon seeds to rid bad breath and stains from the teeth and mouth. Crush the seeds well, immerse them in water, and then strain for a super mouthwash. In Iraq, watermelon rind is used to treat fungal infections. Libyan Jews are known to rub their skin with watermelon rind to lighten age spots. Watermelon contains vitamin A in the form of carotenoid, vitamin C, and vitamins from the B group as well (B1 and B2). It is low in nitrogen and high in potassium.

Further information about the nutritional and therapeutic virtues of our round, red, delicious friend can be found here (Hebrew).

So… how does one select a ripe, sweet watermelon?

–       We pick the watermelon at its ripest, when the tendril near the stem dries up. Therefore, when choosing a watermelon at the stand, look for the drier stem, indicating that the watermelon wasn’t picked while green.

–       The part that comes in contact with the ground changes its color to yellow, so you should look for a yellow (not white) spot on one of the watermelon sides.

–       And the most mysterious signal of all: if you tap on the fruit, you will hear a dim sound reverberating back to you.

Check out this live demonstration

How to store a watermelon:

The best temperature to store a watermelon is 12°C, but even at room temperature (23°) the watermelon will keep for a week to 10 days. Don’t overdo it, though. A watermelon stored for too long will lose its taste and change its texture.

It is not recommended to freeze a watermelon or store it in the cooler compartments of your fridge. Overexposure to cold can cause frostbite, taking a toll on the watermelon’s flavor and making the inside soft and powdery. To store it after slicing open, wrap in plastic wrap and store at a temperature of 3-4°.

And once you have that excellent watermelon, slice it, add mint and feta cheese, and sit back and enjoy this spectacular summer treat, while reading a collection of surprising, interesting and humorous facts about watermelons (Hebrew)

Check out our recipe section for interesting things to do with watermelon, aside from slicing cubes and red smileys and devouring it on the spot. Enjoy!

Alon, Bat Ami, Dror, Yochai and the Chubeza team

__________________________________________________

WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Melon/watermelon, Napolitano pumpkin/butternut squash, New Zealand spinach/Swiss chard, cucumbers/fakkus, cherry tomatoes, tomatoes, potatoes, corn,  eggplant/zucchini, onions/leeks/garlic, parsley.

Large box, in addition: Thai yard-long beans, Amoro pumpkin/acorn squash, lettuce.

FRUIT BOXES: Watermelon, mango, banana, grapes.

Wednesday: Melon/watermelon, Amoro pumpkin/acorn squash, New Zealand spinach/Swiss chard.lettuce, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, tomatoes, potatoes, corn,  eggplant/zucchini, onions/leeks, parsley/cilantro.

Large box, in addition: Thai yard-long beans/green beans, Napolitano pumpkin/butternut squash, garlic.

FRUIT BOXES: Watermelon, apples, grapes. small boxes: banana. Large boxes: mango.

July 17th-19th 2017 – Sweet sweet summer

There was once a woman, let’s call her Helen
Who made her home in a watermelon
She brought in two stools, a chair and a broom, 
Carved out a window and a living room, 
Bought a cat to catch mice and named him Grover
Then all of a sudden… the season was over…

(Nurit Zarchi, Translated by A. Raz)

I have a sneaking suspicion that this woman living in the watermelon is actually residing in Chubeza, though it’s hard to imagine her fitting all of her belongings into our small fruits. Yet, the feeling of the watermelon season ending so abruptly is too familiar to me. It really is a short season – approximately a month – so before it ends, we wanted you to know a few facts about the wonderful watermelon. This week’s Newsletter is green and red all over…

While the rest of us are melting away in the oppressive heat, the watermelon remains unfazed. It just loves the heat, a throwback to its origins in South Africa and the Kalahari Desert. In the desert, the watermelon, which contains over 90% water, was an important and vital source of liquid to man and wild animals. The difficulty in choosing a good watermelon is an old story. In its wild form, the sweet watermelon is identical on the outside to a bitter watermelon, which is why the thirsty passerby would punch a hole in the watermelon rind to check its taste.

From South Africa, the watermelon spread across Africa, and was cultivated in Egypt over 4,000 years ago. Ancient Egyptians drew depictions of watermelons to decorate sarcophagi and cave walls, and they would leave a watermelon near the dead to nourish them on their journey to the New World. The Hebrews knew it from Egypt, reminiscing, “We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons…”

From North Africa, the watermelon entered the Middle East where it grew well and was even mentioned in the Mishna. It arrived in China in the 10th century, and today China is the champion watermelon grower, followed closely by Turkey and Iran. In the 13th century, the Moors brought it with them to Europe, along with other plants they met in Africa and Asia. The watermelon arrived in America with the black slaves and the European settlers.

Chubeza’s love affair with watermelons began with naiveté, pretentiousness, and… failure. During my last year in California, just before I established Chubeza, I raised red, orange and yellow watermelons (these are the colors inside) in a farm owned by Joe Perry, my mentor. We had nice success with the yields, and I was under the impression that growing watermelon would be simple, so I added watermelon to Chubeza’s nascent crop list. The first year, the watermelons simply did not grow, and we only picked a few dozen from our fancy beds. Fortunately, back in 2004, our entire clientele also numbered a few dozen, so they received the watermelons as planned (which, admittedly, weren’t too sweet). One of the main reasons for this failure was the timing. I seeded watermelons like we did in California, at the end of spring. Yet springtime in Israel is fraught with viruses and disease, particularly among the cucurbit family to which our watermelon friend belongs.

After taking a hiatus of several years, chalking up experience with cucurbits and their viruses, we made a second watermelon attempt seven years ago. This time we seeded earlier and harvested a larger yield. A year later we did even better, and five years ago we dared to plant seedless watermelon plants. This sort of watermelon-growing is more complex than raising a standard seed-filled watermelon, for we are essentially trying to buck nature. The mission of every fruit and vegetable is to reproduce and generate offspring (seeds). Man, meanwhile, is bent on getting rid of the seeds, and not by spitting them out, Human beings had grown weary of seeded fruits and set out to develop seedless varieties. Actually, a seedless watermelon does contain some tiny seeds, however most are transparent as well as infertile. You must admit this is strange, to try to develop a fruit which cannot produce seeds or offspring. On one hand, a vast scientific effort is being placed upon refining and improving human fertilization via IVF, freezing embryos and sperm, surrogates, etc., while simultaneously we are encouraging sterility in fruits.

So how do these “seedless” watermelons work? Regular watermelon seeds are diploid seeds, i.e., containing two sets of X chromosomes. Those used in order to produce seedless watermelons are tetraploid, possessing four sets of X chromosomes. Seedless watermelon seeds have a harder than average shell, which is why it is more difficult to grow the melons from seeds. In most cases, they are planted as transplants that were started in the nursery under controlled conditions. The tetraploid seeds sprout and become plants that will generate leaves and flowers but no fruit, unless they’re fertilized from flowers of a regular seeded watermelon. Therefore, you must plant one plant of regular watermelons for every three to four plants of seedless ones. During pollination, each seed contributes half of its chromosomes: 1+2, resulting in a fruit whose seeds are tetraploid, possessing three sets of chromosomes. This number disrupts the seed’s ability to reproduce, and ultimately sterilizes it. Thus we receive a fruit which is juicy and sturdier than its seeded friends, but it evolved from the “virgin birth” of an unfertilized cell. It’s called a “Parthenocarpic fruit,” in essence, the mule of the botanical world.…

Man is not alone in adoring the watermelon – they are also loved by animals and, of course, birds. More specifically, intrepid sweet-toothed hard-beaked blackbirds. We protect our fruits with a passion, otherwise, we find them looking like this:

Which is when we cover the bed with a bird’s net preventing the blackbirds from feasting on this red, juicy delight.

Watermelon is a healing fruit. Its high water content cleanses the body, making watermelon juice well-recommended for those suffering from bladder and liver deficiencies. It is also beneficial for cleansing the kidneys. Watermelon even helps to clean the body of cigarette smoke – highly recommended for active and passive smokers alike.

Traditional Yemenite folk cures use watermelon seeds to rid bad breath and stains from the teeth and mouth. Crush the seeds well, immerse them in water, and then strain for a super mouthwash. In Iraq, the watermelon rind is used to treat fungal infections. Lybian Jews are known to rub their skin with watermelon rind to lighten age spots. Watermelon contains vitamin A in the form of carotenoid, vitamin C, and vitamins from the B group as well (B1 and B2). It is low in nitrogen and high in potassium.

Further information about the nutritional and therapeutic virtues of our round, red, delicious friend can be found here (Hebrew).

So… how does one select a ripe, sweet watermelon?

–       We pick the watermelon at its ripest, when the tendril near the stem dries up. Therefore, when choosing a watermelon at the stand, look for the drier stem, indicating that the watermelon wasn’t picked while green.

–       The part that comes in contact with the ground changes its color to yellow, so you should look for a yellow (not white) spot on one of the watermelon sides.

–       And the most mysterious signal of all: if you tap on the fruit, you will hear a dim sound reverberating back to you.

Check out this live demonstration

How to store a watermelon:

The best temperature to store a watermelon is 12°C, but even at room temperature (23°) the watermelon will keep for a week to 10 days. Don’t overdo it, though. A watermelon stored for too long will lose its taste and change its texture.

It is not recommended to freeze a watermelon or store it in the cooler compartments of your fridge. Overexposure to cold can cause frostbite, taking a toll on the watermelon’s flavor and making the inside soft and powdery. To store it after slicing open, wrap in plastic wrap and store at a temperature of 3-4°.

And once you have that excellent watermelon, slice it, add mint and feta cheese, and sit back and enjoy this spectacular summer treat, while reading a collection of surprising, interesting and humorous facts about watermelons (Hebrew)

Check out our recipe section for interesting things to do with watermelon, aside from slicing cubes and semicircle smiles and devouring it on the spot. Enjoy!

Alon, Bat Ami, Dror, Yochai and the Chubeza team

WHAT’S JOINING THE WATERMELON IN THIS WEEK’S SUMMER BOXES?

Monday: Parsley/coriander, acorn squash, yard-long beans/okra/edamame, cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, corn, eggplant, potatoes, melon/water melon. Small boxes only: parsley root.

Large box, in addition: New Zealand spinach, lettuce, leeks/onions, cherry tomatoes.

Wednesday: Parsley/coriander, acorn squash, yard-long beans/okra/edamame, cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes, melon/water melon/white squash, New Zealand spinach/lettuce. Small boxes: corn/cherry tomatoes

Large box, in addition: Parsley root/leek, garlic/onions, corn and cherry tomatoes.

And there’s more! You can add to your basket a wide, delectable range of additional products from fine small producers: flour, sprouts, honey, dates, almonds, garbanzo beans, crackers, probiotic foods, dried fruits and leathers, olive oil, bakery products, apple juice, cider and jams, dates silan and healthy snacks and goat dairy too! You can learn more about each producer on the Chubeza website. On our order system there’s a detailed listing of the products and their cost, you can make an order online now!