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The Thrakiotiko melon is a large, globular melon that weighs an average of 7-8 pounds, and tapers towards the top stem end, creating its signature “nose”. The smooth yet wrinkled rind is bright yellow with forest green spots and stripes, and the inside is translucent white with hints of pale yellow or very pale orange. The firm flesh is very juicy and sweet, and surrounds a central seed cavity. The sweetness of the melon is slightly floral, with notes of honey and acidity.
The Thrakiotiko melon is available in the late summer and early autumn months.
The Thrakiotiko melon is an ancient variety of melon that is botanically classified as Cucumis melo L., group Inodorus, casaba type. It is said to have always been grown organically in its native region of Greece, without the use of pesticides or any other additives. Thrakiotiko melon is also known as the Golden Head melon, named after its globular shape and golden appearance. It is also sometimes referred to as the Thrace melon, named after its native land, which includes parts of Greece, Turkey, and Bulgaria, and is where this rare variety can be found today.
Thrakiotiko melons are a good source of vitamins B6 and C, as well as potassium and fiber.
Thrakiotiko melons are most commonly enjoyed fresh and uncooked. They can be used in both savory and sweet applications, and are often combined with prosciutto or other cured meats. Thrakiotiko melons pair well with yogurt, cottage cheese, goat cheese, cucumber, berries, grapes, fresh mint, basil, and lime. They can also be juiced to make cocktails, sorbet, or other syrups and purees. Thrakiotiko melons are best stored uncut at room temperature for up to 3 weeks after harvest. Once cut, the melons will last for about 5 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
In 2002, a group named the Institute for Plant Genetics and Resources met in Adana, Turkey to discuss the genetics, history, and preservation of the Cucumis melo L. type melons, which includes the Thrakiotiko melon. They focused on 4 different areas of conservation – earliness (formation from flower to fruit), taste qualities, resistant to transport damage, and productivity of the plant. The Institute for Plant Genetics and Resources is located in the Thracian Plain of South Bulgaria, where the Thrakiotiko melon is natively grown.
The Thrakiotiko melon is an heirloom variety originating from the Evros region of Greece, where it has been grown organically for hundreds of thousands of years. Because it is an heirloom variety and grown without any pesticides, it has been subject to some soil-borne diseases. In search of a solution, growers eventually started grafting other plants, such as squashes and cucumbers, to use as rootstock that could better withstand soil diseases, and allow the Thrakiotiko melons to continue to thrive without any additive measures.