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Sharlyn melons are small to moderately sized, oval to round fruits, averaging 12 to 17 centimeters in diameter and 3 to 5 pounds. The rind is firm, thin, and covered in rough and raised, textured netting. When young, the rind is dark to pale green, and as the melon ripens, it transforms into a golden yellow hue. Underneath the surface, the flesh is ivory, white, to pale orange with an aromatic, semi-soft, aqueous, and succulent consistency. The flesh also encases a small central cavity filled with edible, cream-colored, oval seeds suspended in a gelatinous liquid with stringy fibers. Sharlyn melons are known for their pronounced fruity and floral aroma with tropical, pineapple-like notes. The distinct scent intensifies with maturity and is capable of penetrating other foods that are stored nearby. Sharlyn melons can be consumed slightly green, containing a honeydew-like taste, but the melons are mostly favored for their ripe flesh, bearing a honeyed and floral, nectar-like taste with coconut, pineapple, and caramel nuances.
Sharlyn melons are available in the summer through early fall.
Sharlyn melons, botanically classified as Cucumis melo var. reticulatus, are a perfumed heirloom variety belonging to the Cucurbitaceae family. The netted melon is a type of muskmelon, often labeled under other familiar names, including Ananas melon and Pineapple melon. Ananas translates from French to mean “pineapple,” and the melon received its fruity moniker from its robustly sweet, honeyed, and tropical aroma. Sharlyn melons are considered a specialty variety, seasonally grown and sold through local markets. There may be several types of melons generally labeled under the Sharlyn name, but the melons are highly perishable, lasting only one week after harvest, contributing to its rarity. Sharlyn melons are favored for their consistent, fruity, and floral flavor and are primarily consumed fresh to savor the melon’s tropical taste. The ancient melons have also been used in melon research and breeding to create new commercial varieties with improved resistance to diseases, flavor, texture, and drought tolerance.
Sharlyn melons are a source of vitamin C to strengthen the immune system, vitamin A to maintain healthy organ functioning, vitamin K to assist in faster wound healing, and vitamin B6 to regulate the nervous system. The melons also contain potassium to balance fluid levels within the body and other amounts of magnesium, folate, and copper. In addition to the flesh, Sharlyn melon seeds are edible and provide vitamins A and C to boost the immune system and increase collagen production, vitamin K, and minerals, including phosphorus, calcium, potassium, magnesium, and iron.
Sharlyn melons have a sweet and fruity flavor well suited for fresh preparations, incorporated into both sweet and savory dishes. The melons should be washed with soap and water prior to opening, and once sliced, the seeds can be discarded or set aside for separate use. Sharlyn melons are a popular substitute for crenshaw melons and other muskmelons in recipes, consumed straight, out of hand. The melons can be tossed into green salads, fruit salads, grain bowls, yogurt, and cereal, used as a fresh topping for ice cream or pancakes, or chopped into salsa. Sharlyn melons can also be blended into chilled soups, sprinkled with citrus juice, ginger, or salt for added flavor, wedged and wrapped in cured meats, or pureed and frozen into granitas, gelato, and sorbetto. In addition to using the melons as a stand-alone dish, Sharlyn melons complement the bright flavoring of herbs and are often served with barbequed or roasted meats as a fresh reprieve. The melons are sometimes seared in a hot pan to caramelize their natural sugar content, grilled on fruit skewers with pineapple and mango, or pickled in a mixture of pepper, salt, and white wine vinegar. Beyond culinary preparations, the melons can be incorporated into smoothies, cocktails, and fruit punches. The seeds can also be blended and strained into nut milk and smoothies or roasted as a crunchy, nutritious snack. Sharlyn melons pair well with fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, pineapples, watermelons, kiwis, bananas, figs, lemons, and limes, cheeses such as ricotta, sheep, and goat, cucumber, fennel, pea shoots, honey, chile peppers, vanilla, herbs such as mint, cilantro, and basil, and seafood including white fish, lobster, and prawns. Whole, unsliced Sharlyn melons have a short shelf life and will only keep for one week after harvest. The melons can be stored at room temperature for 2 to 3 days. Once cut, refrigerate the melon pieces for up to three days.
Heirloom varieties such as Sharlyn melons are challenging cultivars to market to consumers, and the melons are slowly declining in production throughout California. The highly perishable melons are a seasonal delicacy often sold in their growing region, and farmers only have a short window to market the melons before the flavor is compromised. Many commercial retailers are also unwilling to offer the unique varieties in fear of the product not being sold, and consumers comment that they do not know what to do with the rare varieties. As a result, Sharlyn melons are often sold through local fresh markets, and growers must actively promote the variety to attract consumer attention. Farmer’s markets throughout California host “melon days” during the summer to highlight heirloom and unusual melon cultivars and visitors are offered free samples to experience the unique flavors of specialty melons. One of the most distinct characteristics of Sharlyn melons is their aromatic fragrance. Many consumers note that they can smell the melons before they see the actual fruits. Despite the melon’s decline in commercial markets, Sharlyn melons have remained a boutique variety utilized by chefs, incorporated into seasonal menus as an unexpected fruity and floral ingredient.
Sharlyn melons are descendants of melon varieties native to Northern Africa and the Middle East. While the exact history is unknown, some experts believe the variety may have been developed from the citron melon. Sharlyn melons were cultivated throughout Europe, especially in France, Italy, and Algeria, during the 15th century, and the sweet melon variety also became popular in the United States in the 19th century. Sharlyn melons were featured in multiple American seed catalogs in 1824, under the name Ananas, and they were also famously noted in M.M. Vilmorin-Andrieux’s book "The Vegetable Garden" in 1885. Today Sharlyn melons are rare and grown for specialty markets, specifically in Europe and the United States. The melons are also cultivated in home gardens throughout Europe, Australia, and the United States and thrive in hot, dry climates.
Recipes that include Sharlyn Melon. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Food dot com||Sharlyn Melon Soup|
|Treat a Week||Fig and Melon Hamantaschen|
|The Carne Diem||Sharlyn Melon Gazpacho with Grilled Spicy Prawns|
|My Recipes||Summer Melon with Fig and Prosciutto|
|Cuesa||Sharlyn Melon with Boccalone Lardo and Torn Basils|