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Compressed Melon Terrine

It’s been absolutely beautiful in Seattle the past few weeks.  The sun has been out, the flowers are in full bloom, and generally the malaise that creeps into people’s day to day personalities after months of cloud cover has given way to smiles and laughter. And lots of exposed white, pale skin.

The food has changed as well as the smell of BBQs has been in the air while we enjoy a respite from the gray skies.  I wanted a light snack that fit the warm days, and chose melon slices.  That get glued together.  As you do.

Melon Mesh

The Cast of Characters

The Cast of Characters

Gluing fruit? How does one do that?  We already know we can use transglutaminase to glue meat together.  Well, it turns out the 2013 Saveur Culinary Science Food Blog Award winners Ideas in Food figured it out back in 2008.  The magic ingredients: low-methoxyl pectin and calcium lactate.  When combined together, they form a gel.  By infusing the fruit with calcium lactate, you can brush pectin on different pieces of fruit and effectively glue them together as a gel forms through them.  You can read more about it here.

The first step is cutting pieces of melon to glue together.  I want flat planks, but am faced with two spheres with a large cache of seeds nestled in the center of each one. I cut and improvise exactly how I’m doing this and manage to sort it out.

Split Melon
Cut Melon

I dissolve calcium lactate into water, add it to the slices and compress them to infuse them.

Compressed Melon

Compressing fruit is always fun because it changes their appearance drastically, as we’ve seen before with cucumber.

Transparent Melon

Gellin’ Melons

Next up was boiling some water with pectin to get it fully hydrated and get it ready to get brushed on the fruit.

Hydrating Pectin
Pectin to be Painted
Plank Painting

As you might see above, the compression bent the melons out of perfect plank shape a little bit.  But since we’re cutting them afterwards, this isn’t too big a deal.  Although the OCD part of me really wanted them to be perfectly matched in size.

After brushing on the pectin and stacking the slices into terrines, I vacuum sealed them again to hold them tightly in place while the gel formed.

Terrine Stacks

One terrine didn’t quite make it through the sealing process without slipping a bit.  These things can happen.

Slipped Terrine

After 12 hours in the fridge, they were ready.  I opened up the bags and cut them into shapes. A fruit terrine appetizer.

Compressed Melon Slice

The gel isn’t super strong, but it does work.  As I ate one, I pressed my tongue along the side and the slices came apart as I chewed.  It was actually a pretty cool sensation.  The flavor was good, but I immediately started thinking of others.  I know they have watermelon and dragonfruit at my nearby store.  Mm.  But for now, I’ll just sit in the sun and munch melons while producing melanin. Ah, Springtime.

Compressed Fruit Terrine