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Athena melons are a medium to large varietal, averaging 15 to 17 centimeters in diameter and 15 to 20 centimeters in length, and have a round to oval shape with curved, uniform edges. The melons are slightly larger than standard commercial cantaloupes, weighing 2 to 7 kilograms, and have a hard, thin, and taut rind. The rind ripens from green to golden yellow-orange and is covered in a raised, coarse tan netting that gives the surface a textured, rough feel. Underneath the surface, the flesh is mostly pale orange, except for a thin ring of bright green just below the surface, and is dense, thick, and firm. Athena melons remain firm, even when ripe, and have an aqueous, tender, and succulent consistency. The flesh also encases a small central cavity filled with slender, flat, and oval seeds suspended in a gelatinous coating and stringy fibers. Athena melons release a sweet, floral, and fruity scent when ripe, and the smell will be the strongest at the stem end. The flesh contains a high sugar content, creating a floral sweetness enhanced by honeyed nuances.
Athena melons are available in the summer.
Athena melons, botanically classified as a part of Cucumis melo var. reticulatus, are a hybrid variety belonging to the Cucurbitaceae family. The aromatic melons were developed in the United States in the late 20th century and were released commercially as a sweet-fleshed cultivar. Athena melons are often referred to in commercial markets as a type of cantaloupe, but the variety is actually a type of muskmelon. It is important to note that most of the melons in the United States are not true cantaloupes and instead fall under the muskmelon category with a sweeter taste and more fragrant nature than true cantaloupes. Athena melons are ready for harvest approximately 75 to 85 days after sowing and are one of the most commercially grown muskmelons in the United States. The variety was specifically created to stay firm when ripe, holding its texture and sweetness for extended periods. Athena melons thrive in cultivation throughout the eastern and southeastern United States, a region once challenging for muskmelon production. The melons can also be shipped long distances as they have an extended shelf life. Athena melons are harvested when they are ripe and will easily separate or slip from the vine when gently tugged. Growers favor the variety for its consistent yields, disease resistance, and ability to be shipped and stored. In the modern day, Athena melons are produced commercially and in home gardens and are chosen as a versatile cultivar for fresh and cooked culinary preparations.
Athena melons are a source of potassium to balance fluid levels within the body, vitamin C to strengthen the immune system, and fiber to regulate the digestive tract. The variety also provides calcium to build strong bones and teeth, vitamin A to maintain healthy organ functioning, magnesium to regulate nerve functioning, and other nutrients, including phosphorus, folate, iron, vitamin B6, copper, and niacin.
Athena melons have a sweet and floral flavor suited for fresh and cooked preparations. The melons are typically consumed straight out of hand and are sliced and served as a refreshing snack or healthy dessert. Athena melons are also served on cheese platters, sliced and added to fruit medleys, tossed into herb-based salads, or used as an edible garnish over parfaits and oatmeal. Try using Athena melons in the classic prosciutto-wrapped melon appetizer for a sweet taste. The melons can also be served with creamy dips, chopped into salsa, skewered on kebabs, blended and chilled into a soup, or pureed and frozen into popsicles, sorbet, and ice cream. Athena melons can be utilized in recipes calling for muskmelon or cantaloupe, and the fruit's flavor complements both sweet and savory dishes. In addition to fresh preparations, Athena melons can be simmered into jams, jellies, and other preserves. The seeds can also be cleaned, roasted, and salted as a snack. Beyond culinary dishes, Athena melons are added to fruit juices, milkshakes, smoothies, and cocktails. Athena melons pair well with other fruits such as grapes, berries, watermelons, apples, oranges, and plums, cucumber, herbs including basil, mint, and cilantro, balsamic vinegar, and goat cheese. Whole, unopened Athena melons will keep for several days when stored at room temperature. The melons can also be placed in a paper bag for faster ripening. Once opened, slices of the flesh should be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator and consumed within 1 to 3 days.
Athena melons were named after the Greek goddess of wisdom, crafts, and war. According to Greek mythology, Athena was born from Zeus's head and was birthed full-grown wearing armor. Athena was one of the twelve main deities throughout Greek mythology who resided on Mount Olympus and was famous for her power and influence. The city of Athens in Greece was named after Athena, and the Parthenon, a temple constructed in the 5th century in Athens, was built and dedicated to the goddess. The Parthenon is still one of the most famous buildings within the Acropolis, an ancient citadel on a flat hill in Athens. Athena melons were named in honor of the goddess for their hardiness, disease resistance, and ability to grow in varying climates and conditions.
Athena melons were developed and commercially released by the Syngenta Seed Company in 1993. Syngenta Seeds is a global seed producer that strives to introduce new varieties of fruits and vegetables for increased crop cultivation. The company believes seeds are a cost-effective method to improve the field of agriculture, and Athena melons were selected as a new hybrid variety for their size, flavor, texture, and growth characteristics. Syngenta Seeds initially created Athena melons with the eastern United States in mind, as the variety was developed to grow in the eastern climate while retaining a firm nature and extended shelf life. Over time, the variety saw success across the United States and expanded in production to growers worldwide. Today Athena melons are commercially grown and planted in home gardens across the United States and are traditionally sold through farmer's markets and select fresh markets.
Recipes that include Athena Melon. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Indian and Indian Fusion n Cooking in America||Athena Melon Raita|