While I was making my way back to Austin on Wednesday, I was also in the middle of a very exciting twitter conversation with Addie, Queen of the Austin Bloggers,* about my magical watermelon-picking abilities.
*A title I have bestowed upon her, which I know she would deny.
She suggested we meet at Central Market on Thursday to film a little video demonstrating my eccentricities and superstitions about picking a watermelon to put on the Austin 360 blog. As this might be the closest I’ll ever get to being “Austin famous,” I was, of course, ready for my close-up.
Although you wouldn’t know it based on this awkward picture.The man standing with me was Patrick, head of produce at the Westgate Central Market store. After Addie had filmed me being incredibly awkward and talking about watermelons* (while, yes, wearing my green, white, and pink striped ‘watermelon’ dress), we struck up conversation with other team members at the store.
*Don’t worry, I’ll totally let you know when it’s online.And that led to a demonstration of this little gadget:
That, my little scientists, is a refractometer, which, if you didn’t already know (and if you did, who are you and why aren’t you working as the head of produce at a grocery store?*) measures the sweetness (Brix) of fruits and vegetables.
Patrick had me use my skills as a “Watermelon Whisperer” to pick out what I thought would be a good watermelon. This was an intense amount of pressure, especially after he told me my superstition about looking for a nub of stem was perhaps an inaccurate way of telling if the melon is ripe, since it can indicate it was picked too early. [Oh, well, it always works for me!]I thought I did pretty darn well, as the watermelon you see above registered a 9.5 Brix, with 10 being very sweet, and a good aim for watermelon. Of course, we couldn’t settle for only testing watermelon. This led us to testing sugar melons (which you saw above), that I learned are INSANELY sweet.
We then had to test one of these “oh my goll, y’all” delicious tomatoes sold exclusively at Central Market and grown in Bastrop.Although it tasted like the essence of tomato…it only registered a 4 on the refractometer.
That's the sign of a fellow food blogging friend for sure.]
Meanwhile, back at the ranch–well, fine, at another grocery store—there was an entirely different type of science going on: a little CHEMISTRY.*
*If by “sweet” you mean “strange”….Well, both are leavening agents, meaning they produce carbon dioxide and help baked goods to rise. The difference is that when you combine baking soda with an acid–like lemon juice, yogurt, honey, or chocolate–it results in a bubbling eruption of CO2 (remember volcano experiments in elementary school?). This happens immediately, so if you are using baking soda, it must go directly into the oven. Baking soda has an acidic “agent” in it already. It releases some gas at room temperature, but more as it is heated. Baking soda cannot be used in place of powder, but you can use powder to sub for soda.
And now I will proceed to forget all of that. Good thing about.com exists.
Another little science experiment that went on in The Smart Kitchen involved the massive amounts of melon I had left in my fridge prior to making my trip back east two weeks ago.I queried the twitter world about whether I could freeze honeydew* and the resulting thought was: “Sure, why not?”
*I would have eaten it all, but I was starting to feel like I was in a melon-eating contest and my stomach wasn’t having it.
It seemed like it had worked out OK, but when I thawed it overnight…
…well, it became quite small and flimsy soft. The science teacher in me has deduced that most likely all of the melon moisture froze and then when it thawed was released into the drain, thereby leaving the remaining honeydew as just a shell of its former self.Or something like that.
It is scientifically proven that you will make your friend happy if you bring her sweets…