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Persian melons can vary in appearance, but most closely resemble what we know as the standard cantaloupe. Somewhat larger but with the same heavily-netted exterior, they turn a golden beige color when fully ripe and give off an intoxicating sweet floral smell. The melon's coral-colored flesh extremely juicy with a buttery yet firm texture. A perfectly ripe Persian melon will feel heavy for its size, an indication of its rich water-content and concentrated sugar levels.
Persian melons are available in the summer.
Persian melon is sometimes used as an umbrella term used to describe a range of melon cultivars that are native to present day Iran, once known as Persia. Botanically classified as Cucumis melo, they are of the reticulatus subspecies and most notably recognized for their netted exterior and richly scented aromatics.
Persian Melons are an excellent source of beta-carotene, folic acid, potassium, vitamin C and dietary fiber.
Use Persian melons similarly to cantaloupe or other muskmelon varieties. They may be used in sweet or savory applications and are generally consumed raw, but may be grilled or seared in a hot pan to caramelize their natural sugars. A traditional Iranian beverage combines the pureed flesh of Persian melon with sugar, water and mint for a chilled summertime drink. Their sweet flavor pairs well with citrus, mint, ginger, avocado, arugula, berries, robust cheeses and cured meats. To store, keep whole melons at room temperature. Cut melon will keep wrapped in plastic for up to three days.
The Persian melon is most likely the father species of perhaps hundreds of different melon cultivars. It was originally found growing wild in Persia, the area now known as Iran. Its unmistakable cantaloupe appearance speaks to the fact that it has seen countless new waves of evolution since its original plant was cultivated from the wild. Persian melon seeds first made their way to England in 1824 via the English Ambassador in Persia. The seeds were planted in the gardens of the English Horticultural Society. Later, Persian melon would from there make their way to the United States.
Recipes that include Persian Melon. One is easiest, three is harder.
|My Persian Kitchen||Kharbozeh & Persian Melon Popsicle|
|The New York Times||Melon Pomegranate Almond Smoothie|
|Sippity Sup||Melon and Cucumber Salad with Feta Cheese|