May 27-29, 2024 –  FIESTA MELONS

Next week only – Ido, our super Bread Man of the Ish Shel Lechem bakery in Moshav Ginaton, is offering a very special bread for the Sukkot holiday: Festive 100% whole wheat organic bread with dried fruits, bursting with pecans, Uzbeki raisins, walnuts, cranberries and hazelnuts.

Look at how beautiful:  

This spectacular bread will arrive in Chubeza on Monday, June 3rd If you would like it to add it to your Wednesday, June 5th order, we will keep the bread refrigerated or frozen until then. Orders must be received by this Saturday night, June 1st at 9 PM.

Price for this very, very special bread: 30 NIS per loaf. Add it to your next week’s order via our order system, or send us an email message to [email protected], or via WhatsApp (0546535980).


FIESTA MELONS / Sylvia Plath

In Benidorm there are melons,
Whole donkey-carts full

Of innumerable melons,
Ovals and balls,

Bright green and thumpable
Laced over with stripes

Of turtle-dark green.
Chooose an egg-shape, a world-shape,

Bowl one homeward to taste
In the whitehot noon :

Cream-smooth honeydews,
Pink-pulped whoppers,

Bump-rinded cantaloupes
With orange cores.

Each wedge wears a studding
Of blanched seeds or black seeds

To strew like confetti
Under the feet of

This market of melon-eating

For the past few weeks, a wonderful sweet, round fruit has begun peeking out from your Chubeza boxes. In their honor, this week and next week’s Newsletters of sweetness and summer will feature the fruits that almost make summer heatwaves worth suffering for: the Melons! (and next week, The Watermelon!)

Sweetness is certainly not exclusive to just the fruit of the tree. Which is why each year we proudly grow two fruits not on a tree or bush, but in a calm stretch across the open field.  They are now permanent, well-loved guests in our summer boxes: the melon and the watermelon. Both belong to the Cucurbitaceae family, a prominent summer clan, and are cousins to the rest of their extended family members – the pumpkin, zucchini, cucumber and fakus (and for anyone who still thinks we’ve recently been sending them two bags of zucchini, please take a look at last week’s Fakus Newsletter.) Though it pretends to act as a cucumber substitute, the fakus is really a melon picked before it had time to ripen. Which is lucky indeed, for unlike his melon brothers, the fakus will not get sweeter as he ages. But the melons will! As they advance towards ripening, their sugar level increases. At that point, they unfortunately become desirable not only to us, but also to the birds and mice, who are champs at spotting a perfectly ripe, juicy melon, and fighting for their share (more on this to come).

We try to plant the melons into the earth as early as possible. The first melons were already planted at the beginning of February, and once again in March, April and May. Since it was still winter at the very beginning, we covered the melons from above with plastic sheets so they would be warm and cozy and able to grow and thrive in their little hothouse under the plastic. As the weather warmed, the next rounds were already planted out in the open.  

At the start of the melon’s growth, we cover its bed with a thin, white cloth called “agril,” allowing the plant to serenely grow, protecting it from viruses and other insect-borne diseases. Once the plant begins blossoming, we remove the white agril veil and allow the bashful bride to emerge into the outside world. Despite the lurking dangers of disease and viruses, only in the open air can the long-awaited rendezvous with pollinating insects take place, without which there would be no pollination, fertilization or sweet fruit.

It takes the first melons just under two months to begin giving us a roly-poly wink from their beds. Some 2-3 months after being inserted into the soil, they begin changing their colors, softening a bit inside, filling up with sweet juice and becoming easily detached from their plant. Melons begin ripening some 30 days after they blossom, when the sugar and pH levels are on the rise and the sugars that comprise the fruit solids are accompanied by some 90% water. We strive to pick them at the peak of their ripeness, of course, after their sugar level has reached the top and they are sweet and juicy. Melons have no carbohydrate reserve, in fact most of the carbs they hold are sugars, not starch, which is why they have no starches to turn into sugar after picking. What you pick is what you get, thus prematurely-picked melons will become juicier and softer in time, but they will not be as yummy and sweet.

And thus, over the years, various methods to determine the ripeness of the fruit have been developed. Some are more scientific, such as the refractometer, a device that measures sugar levels, and NMRI (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Imaging). But we plain ol’ farmers simply bend down and inhale (mmm… it smells like a ripe fruit), take a close look (the color has changed from green to yellow!), feel it (press on the base of the fruit and look for flexibility) and give it a little tug (if it comes off the vine easily, excellent!). We then carefully roll the melon to the long piles at the side of the bed and then stroll through with our wheelbarrow to collect the melons to the edge of the bed. Here we place them into low boxes (they do not like sitting stacked in piles) and bring them to the packing house to savor their intoxicating scents.

Unfortunately, we aren’t the only ones who crave the sweetness of this juicy wonder, and every year we fight a stubborn battle with the crows who try once more to peck and nibble our sweet melons. Which is why as they ripen, we provide double protection. At ground level, we cover the watermelons with a black bird net meant to prevent the gluttonous birds from reaching the prize before we do. And up above, we deter the birds with the kind assistance of a “bird scarecrow” – a kite in the shape of a tough bird of prey, mounted on a six-meter-high flexible telescope pole. When there’s a breeze, the kite takes off, flying randomly as he perfectly mimics the flight pattern of birds of prey – thus deterring the ravenous crows. Watch this:

This year we grew four varieties of melons, all local Israeli-developed. Each is planted at a different time, in tandem with the appropriate stage of the season, and to diversify these sweet treats in your box. 

Two of our melons belong to the Ananas (pineapple) variety:  elliptical and juicy, with a very prominent, well-established local pedigree. The Ananas  was developed in Israel from the homegrown baladi melon that has grown here for many, many years. Local farmers simply called it Shamam (melon in Arabic), or sometimes Batichi Aspar (yellow watermelon), named for its cousin.

The first of those is Jasper, with creamy-light pulp, and the second is Ruby, a round-shaped pineapple melon with an orange pulp.

This year’s third melon variety (whose ripening date actually falls between the two pineapple melons) is Justin, a round melon with yellow net-like skin and yummy sweet, orange pulp. A made-in-Israel creation, it was developed by Ein Yahav farmers in collaboration with the Origene Seed Company some eight years ago. Ein Yahav farmers honored Justin Timberlake with a melon named for him, after learning that Timberlake, who was visiting Israel at the time, had requested “melon salad” in his menu (true story!) One of the Justin melon’s traits is long shelf life, said to last a few good days after being picked (but who wants to wait that long?).

Our fourth melon variety – now making its debut at Chubeza – is the Emoji, a round, yellow melon with smooth skin and green-white pulp. Emoji is also the product of the Origene Seed Company developers. We tasted it at Migdal Amit, loved it, and decided to add it to our melon assortment. It is a particularly delicious, sweet melon, whose sweetness is assured to last a long time. Emoji also boasts a longer shelf life in your home refrigerator, even after opening the melon. Let us know what you have to say about this new melon on the block…

Melon history begins in Africa, where there are still many wild varieties to be found. It is unknown when, where and how they were cultivated, but somehow the farmers of an ancient era selected and saved the seeds of the sweetest melons. They were already abundant in Egypt over 4000 years ago, and a millennium later they travelled on commercial routes to Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, India, South-Central Russia, China and Japan. Melons are depicted in ancient art, including a 2,400-year-old Egyptian burial drawing. In the Gilgamesh Epic written over 2000 years ago, Gilgamesh is mentioned eating aromatic melons. The fruit probably began arriving in Europe during the Greek and Roman period. The Moors brought them from North Africa to Spain during their reign there. Here in Israel, melon is mentioned in the Mishna under the name melafefon (cucumber)… Melons back then were quite small compared to today’s varieties, probably about the size of an orange.

Different cultures feast on melons in different ways: in the Far East they are cooked, but these are a different variety than the sweet melons we know. In the Middle East, Central and South America and in China, dried melon seeds are eaten as a snack. In Mexico, a refreshing, delicate melon cooler that tastes like agua fresca (fresh water) is a popular drink. In Japan, they make midouri melon, a very sweet and heavy melon liqueur produced by soaking the melons in alcohol for a month (!). Even in our familiar way of eating the melon raw, there are many variations in seasoning: salt and pepper, powdered ginger or lemon juice.

Alchemists of the Middle Ages claimed that melon encourages blood circulation, and is suitable for soothing irritable temperaments. It was said to relieve the pain of kidney stones and cleanse the skin. In Chinese medicine, melon is considered a cold food which affects the heart and stomach, encouraging urination, relieving constipation, helping fight liver disease, easing a cough, reducing a fever and quenching thirst. It is recommended to eat melon separately, as a meal in itself.

From a nutritional viewpoint, melon is rich in Vitamin C.  Half a melon contains 117 mg, almost twice the recommended daily consumption. It is also rich in Vitamin A and beta carotene, both antioxidants that help protect the cells against harmful free radicals. What’s more, half a melon contains over 800 mg of potassium (almost twice as much as a banana), which aids in reducing blood pressure and easing muscle pain.

May the sweetness of the melon help us weather the heat and ease other aches, pains and worries, as we continue to await good tidings.

Alon, Bat-Ami, Dror, Einat and the entire Chubeza team



Monday: Scallions/celery/turnips, fakus/carrots, romaine lettuce/Lalique lettuce/New Zealand spinach, red beets, zucchini/squash, potatoes, acorn squash/butternut squash/slice of pumpkin, parsley/dill/coriander/nana/basil, tomatoes, cucumbers, melon/watermelon/cabbage.

Large box, in addition:  Onions, cherry tomatoes/eggplant, Swiss chard/kale.     

FRUIT BOXES:  Red apples/pears, bananas, avocados/pomelit/grapefruit, peaches/nectarines.

Wednesday: Fakus/carrots/onions, romaine lettuce, red beets, zucchini/squash, potatoes, acorn squash/butternut squash/slice of pumpkin, parsley/dill/coriander/nana/basil, tomatoes, cucumbers, melon/watermelon, cherry tomatoes/yellow string beans.

Large box, in addition: Scallions/celery/turnips, eggplant/cabbage, Swiss chard/kale/New Zealand spinach.     

FRUIT BOXES:  Red apples/pears, bananas, avocados/pomelit/grapefruit, peaches/nectarines.