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The Crane melon is slightly pear shaped with a gently tapering end and averages 4 to 7 pounds. Its exterior is a pale dusty green color with dark green blotches that become a rusty orange when fully ripe. The inner orange flesh is firm and succulent and surrounds a central, fibrous seed cavity. The Crane melon is highly aromatic and exceptionally sweet with notes of honey, rose and orange blossom.
The Crane melon is available late summer and fall.
The Crane melon is a botanical variety of Cucumis melo named after its inventor, Oliver Crane. It is a Crenshaw type melon that resulted from a cross of complex parentage, including a Japanese melon, a white melon, a Persian melon and an ambrosia melon. This highly aromatic and flavorful melon has been described as having a superior and unmatchable taste due to the unique environment in which it is grown. Jennifer Crane, A descendant of the melon’s creator, explains, "The Crane melon’s flavor is due to its terroir. The melon was developed to be grown on the land that’s been in the Crane family for nearly 160 years – in a particular soil, within a specific climate zone, farmed in a certain style."
Crane melons are an excellent source of beta-carotene, folic acid, potassium, vitamin C and B6, and dietary fiber.
The Crane Melon is almost never found in conventional stores, and considered a true delicacy. It is most often enjoyed on its own simply eaten raw at room temperature to fully showcase its complex bouquet of flavors. It pairs well with cilantro, ginger, mint, basil, lemon, lime, berries, vanilla, black pepper, salty cheese, prosciutto, champagne and sweet wines. Since Crane melons are vine ripened they do not have a shelf life for long distance shipping, but may be refrigerated after harvest for a few days, depending upon ripeness.
The Crane melon is considered a local treasure by many Northern Californians. In fact, it is the only melon to have been named by Slow Food USA to The Ark of Taste, which is a catalog of distinctive foods deemed threatened by industrial standardization.
The Crane melon was developed around 1900 by its namesake, Oliver Crane. The son of a gold rusher and long lineage of farmers, Oliver sold his melons out of the farmstead’s barn in Santa Rosa beginning in the 1920’s. Today, six-generations later, the iconic landmark is known affectionately as the “Melon Barn”. The Barn is currently owned and operated by father and daughter Rick and Jennifer Crane who are fifth and sixth generation Sonoma County farmers.