A melon baller is a tool designed to scoop melon flesh out in small, perfectly shaped balls, which you then serve in bowls or incorporate into a fruit salad.
They are composed of a small scooping part (bowl) attached to a handle.
The handles will be plastic, wood or metal. Ones that are all plastic or have plastic handles may bend or break if you try to use them on too hard a substance.
Melon ballers don’t have a spring-loaded “release latch” on them as larger scoops for other purposes may have.
Almost all melon ballers have two sizes of scoops, one on each end of the handle. On good ones, the scooping bowls are made from stainless-steel and their edges will be slightly sharp. The sizes of the bowls seems to range from 1 to 3 cm (½ to 1 ½ inches.) The smallest bowls will make a ball just about the size of a green pea.
Most melon baller scoops sold are round, though you can find oval. Many of the bowls will have a small hole in them, to let liquid flow out when scooping, and to stop an air seal from forming to made it easier to dislodge the food stuff in it.
Make sure you buy one that is dishwasher safe, if that is important to you.
To use a melon baller with melon, wash your melon, take the seeds out, then cut it in half and scoop the flesh out with a twist of your wrist.
There’s no need to cut the rind off the melon first; you just leave that behind.
You can use left-over melon that can’t be shaped nicely for a blender drink, or just eat it out of hand.
Melon ballers are actually used for many applications other than melon balls.
Other uses include:
- scooping out potato flesh for Parisian-style ball cuts of vegetables such as squash, potatoes or carrots (tip: wash peel the carrots and potatoes first);
- cleaning out the inside of bell peppers;
- cleaning out seed and pulp from cucumbers, squash, tomatoes;
- cleaning out insides of a baked potato shell (if you are making “twice-baked potatoes”);
- for apples, you can use the melon baller to dig out both ends of the apple, then cut it in half with a knife, then use the melon baller again to core it;
- coring other fruit, such as pears and fresh pineapple;
- scooping dough for small cookies;
- scooping small decorative ice cream balls;
- gutting cherry tomatoes, should you be mad enough to want to stuff them;
- shaping chocolate truffles;
- making small soup dumplings such as matzo balls;
- shaping cocktail meatballs;
- letting children use them when making sand-sculptures.