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Melon flavor discussion

 
pollinator
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I just wanted to ask the group for your opinions on what your most flavorful or unique flavored melon experience was?  What varieties would you recommend people try if they really enjoy full flavored watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, etc.?

I am also curious to know what the consensus is on the flavor of yellow and orange fleshed watermelons, as I've never tried them.  

Have you had cross pollinated melons that surprised you with exceptional qualities?
 
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I have never met a melon I didn't like when it come to cantaloupe or watermelons.

Some of the light green melons I have had in salads I was not too fond of.  I don't know what they were.

When growing watermelons we have always grown sugar babies.
 
Cy Cobb
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I just wanted to post an update after finally finding a yellow fleshed watermelon at a produce shop.  It was a lighter green striped rind, roundish icebox type that was seedless.  Now, my experience with every seedless watermelon I've ever tried, is that they are weaker in flavor & sweetness when compared to seeded types.  The yellow flesh was bright and crisp, which I liked, but it had zero watermelon flavor or sweetness to it.  Now I know there are different cultivars of yellow and orange melons that I'll want to try before crossing them off of my "future grow list", but I have to say, I was underwhelmed in this first taste test.  Does anyone know how Yellow Doll or any other types fair?  
 
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My favourite melon is lemon drop. I saved seeds from a store bought one, but I think it needed more heat than I was able to give it. I grew it a few years in a row, but only had one good year where it had the right flavour. Very sweet, green flesh that tastes like it was dipped in lemon juice, so it's like a sweet and sour candy.
 
Cy Cobb
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I've never heard of lemon drop, but it sounds like a very interesting flavor.  We have had a very hot summer so far.  I just planted some sugar baby watermelon seeds in the hope that with their smaller size, I can get some to ripen before frost hits.  We'll see how it goes.  
 
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I grew a yellow fleshed watermelon a few years ago. It was from a seed swap, so I don't know the variety, but I was underwhelmed by it, too. Very little flavor. My land seems to be well-suited to watermelons, as every variety I've grown has been flavorful except that one.

Strawberry watermelon is one of my favorite varieties, just because of how bright red it is. I grew Crimson Sweet many years ago and have continued to save the seed from it. I don't try to protect the seed from crossing with the other varieties that I grow, but vines from those saved seeds have been the ones that produce the best watermelon each year.

I've had less luck with muskmelons. Vines die early, melons rot, or just don't produce well in my hot, humid, dry area. I keep trying, though, and am rarely disappointed when I finally get an edible melon. Farm woman collective melon was a flavorful, sweet white-flesh melon, just better suited for a cooler area.
 
Cy Cobb
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I've heard of strawberry watermelon on one other occasion, but have never seen seeds for sale locally.  My favorite watermelons have bright red flesh & black seeds.  They came from a roadside stand that we visited many times a year as a kid.  I'm sure they were one of the larger oblong types grown on a commercial scale, but alas, the stand is no more, so I can't ask or save the seeds.  I just planted some Sugar Baby watermelon seeds, so we'll see if I can get some melons before first frost.  Fingers crossed.

Maybe I'll try Crimson Sweet next year.  
 
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i am currently harvesting the yellow doll and they are very sweet and watermelony flavored. Each vine put out 3-4 bowling ball sized melons ripening about a week apart.
I did not have to water them through a 3 week dry spell and they grew very fast.  They do have seeds, actually very seedy. I will attach a picture of one cut up maybe tomorrow, very beautiful bright yellow.
 
Cy Cobb
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I look forward to seeing those pics!  Yellow Doll seemed like a good fit, but didn't know anyone who grew them.  Thanks for the input!
 
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We are in the PNW and it's very hard to grow a sweet melon that actually ripens because often our summers aren't hot enough. But we have had success with Sakata Sweet. It is about the size of a large lemon cucumber and it tastes like a cucumber if you pick it too soon. But when they are ripe, they taste like a honeydew melon. They will actually be ripe and sweet by August even when we have a cool summer with many days in the 60s.
 
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I picked up a 'canary melon' from a farmstand last year,  OMW it was the most amazing flavor I've ever had in a melon.   I saved seed.  No idea if it will grow true.  Fruits are just starting to form!
 
Ralph Sluder
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I also grow the canary melon.  They will last several weeks after being picked and also have a tougher skin. Cantaloupes get destroyed by insect pests here.
Here is a photo, and also the yellow doll.
Supposedly yellow were the original watermelons grown??
No lycopene like reds, beta carotene instead.
IMG_20220709_132826622_HDR.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_20220709_132826622_HDR.jpg]
IMG_20220709_132012955_HDR.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_20220709_132012955_HDR.jpg]
 
Cy Cobb
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Very nice!  I'll have to try that Canary melon.  I've seen them in the produce section from time to time, but never knew much about them.  I went to Baker Creek's website, & saw all of the watermelons that folks have referenced above, so now I know where to get them.  I stopped in a farm store about 60 miles from home yesterday, and found seed packets of Petite Yellow watermelon seed along with the red fleshed Moon & Stars.  With all the varieties I want to try next year, I may simply have a melon patch rather than a vegetable garden, lol.

Curious thought:  Has anyone out there crossed a yellow flesh with a red flesh watermelon?  Is this how the orange varieties started?  I'm sure the F1 crosses have some variability, but didn't know if red dominated the yellow?
 
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We grew "Montreal Melons" a few years ago, and they were the best-tasting melons I'd ever had.

The flesh was firm and sweet, with a texture somewhere between honeydew and cantaloupe. The flavour itself had a spiciness to it: almost like nutmeg mixed with honey.
I got the seeds from Heritage Harvest here: https://heritageharvestseed.com/products/montreal-market-melon-seeds-1870s?_pos=5&_sid=7d336bc88&_ss=r

Apparently these melons were once referred to as the "caviar of cantaloupe" and were served on the Titanic!? After tasting them, I understand why.
 
Cy Cobb
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I've never heard of Montreal melons either, but they sound delicious!  Thanks for the link.  
 
Cy Cobb
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I just picked up a new melon that I've never tried before.  It's called Santa Claus or Christmas melon.  I had to look it up since I didn't know anything about it.  Supposed to be like a mild honeydew flavor, but is supposed to keep until Christmas, which is how it got its name.  They also had the Canary Melon & Casaba melon which I've also never tried, but want to.  I hope they have them when I go back!

What are your thoughts on Santa Claus & Casaba Melons?
 
Cy Cobb
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Update on the Santa Claus melon:  It was as described, white flesh, mild honeydew melon flavor, & only very lightly sweet.  I wonder if it's long keeping qualities would improve the ripeness over time?  

Conclusion:   I will try again if I ever come across another; only this time, I'll try to wait until the ends start to soften to compare a very ripe melon.  Overall, good flavor, but all things being equal, I would just get a honeydew unless you needed the extended keeping qualities it's known for.
 
Cy Cobb
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I think this thread is becoming a bit of a journal as I try new things, but maybe someone out there will find it useful at some point?  

Anyway, I decided to save the seeds from the Santa Claus melon, and it turns out that only about 20-30% were mature.  This leads me to believe that either the melon was picked too early for shipment to market, or it needed more time in general to ripen and mature more of the seeds, though I don't know how likely that is.  I'll try planting some next year to see how they do.

On a positive note, I tried my first Black Diamond watermelon, which just happened to be seedless, & it was super flavorful!  I dare say it was the best seedless watermelon I've ever had!  Does anyone else have experience with Black Diamond melons seeded or not, are they always this good?

I buy a new melon about every other week.  My theory, is that most early season seedless melons are weak flavored because they were picked before peak "on the vine" ripeness to allow for shipping to market.  In my area, locally grown watermelons have hit their natural ripeness (high sugar), and are very flavorful right now.  I know from my own experience with other produce, that perfectly timed picking results in the most robust flavors that can be had.  This just doesn't always work when a market is expecting a shipment to fill their shelves.

Also, I have a lead on a shipment of orange fleshed watermelons arriving in about a week, so watch your local markets, if you are as curious as I am.  Stay tuned...

 
Cy Cobb
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New melon update:  

I called my contact about the orange fleshed watermelons that were supposed to arrive around 1 September.  His grower said a couple more weeks, so thinking he was getting his leg pulled, he went to the farm himself...a couple more weeks it is.

Another shipment of yellow fleshed seedless watermelons came in though, so I took a chance on another one (the first one had zero flavor or sweetness).  This time, I was pleasantly surprised with good sweetness, and can appreciate it for being a change of flavor in an otherwise red fleshed market.  I think this is again attributed to actual full season ripening, rather than early picks for market.

I seem to have missed my opportunity to try canary melons & casaba melons for the year, but I'll keep looking.

I did however, discover two varieties of KISS melons, which are commercial versions of cantaloupe & honeydew melons crossed & stabilized.  Both were exceptional, and I went back & bought several more.  Highly recommended.
 
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Hi there,

I grow quite a few melons every summer and I have experimenting for years with varieties.  If you want a very sweet melon that produces giant melons, you won't regret the Moon and Stars variety.  I'm impressed with its sweetness and the giant melons it produces.  The reason I mention I've been growing and comparing melons for years is because various factors can affect taste.  But consistently this melon produces a sweet taste.

 
Cy Cobb
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I did grab a packet of the red fleshed moon & stars, but haven't grown them yet.  Thanks for the recommendation!
 
pollinator
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Jenny Wright wrote:We are in the PNW and it's very hard to grow a sweet melon that actually ripens because often our summers aren't hot enough. But we have had success with Sakata Sweet. It is about the size of a large lemon cucumber and it tastes like a cucumber if you pick it too soon. But when they are ripe, they taste like a honeydew melon. They will actually be ripe and sweet by August even when we have a cool summer with many days in the 60s.



Sakata Sweet is an Asian type of melon that grows well in the north. You can eat it skin and all. Plus it dehydrates very well and tastes even better than fresh. To dry it you scoop out the seeds then run it through a mandoline into 1/4" slices (skin and all). YUM!!!  You can dry regular melons too if you peel off the skin/rind. Same process as the Asian melons. We currently grow Petit Gris de Rennes which is a highly fragrant and tasty orange melon when fresh. Dried it's heavenly.

Other things you can do to preserve melons are make pickle relish with unripe melons instead of cukes - just sub into your favorite recipe.  And watermelons are the most versatile as far as preserving. You can press juice and either freeze it or boil it down to syrup. The seeds are edible roasted, and the rinds can be used to make pickles. We grow Blacktail Mountain in Minnesota and it does very well most every year.
 
Cy Cobb
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I've been hearing more & more about Blacktail Mountain.  Will have to add that to the list as well.  

Thanks for the ideas for melon preservation!  I have plans to grow more than I can eat fresh, but am not going to market them.  I will be taste testing each one at least, so juicing & freezing/drying might work well.  
 
pollinator
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Been French and back in France for the last 14 years, I guess I am terribly biased.  After tasting so many different melons, I have found that I always go back to the Charentais melon sometimes called melon de Cavaillon.  To me, it is one of the best, but then, there is no accounting for taste.  For instance, I really detest watermelon.

It is a small, bright orange, sweet, juicy and perfumed cantaloupe type melon.  When really sun-riped, the sweet smell assaults your nostrils before you've had a chance to put a  morsel into your mouth.  It is delicious and almost melts in your mouth.  Of course, it has to be really ripe otherwise, you just have a lump of melon flavoured, hard, watery, coarse textured...thing!  Well, you can see I'm biased!

Wikipedia says:

It is a small variety of melon, around the size of a softball. It has flesh similar to most cantaloupes, but with a distinct and more intense aroma, and a more pink hue. It originated in the Charentes region of France, and is most associated with the Proven├žal area around the town of Cavaillon. Most true Charentais melons are grown in and around this region, and are almost exclusively available in France, owing to the fact that their thin skin and soft flesh does not do well in shipping. Hybrids of this variety are widely grown, they are generally crosses with North American cantaloupes for better shipping characteristics and larger size.  





 
Cy Cobb
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Olga,

I considered that type of cantaloupe, but didn't know anyone that grew them around me.  I do love the smell a ripe cantaloupe puts off when very ripe.  I will have to try & find some seeds for sure.

I am also curious about the part of your Wikipedia reference that mentions crossing them with American varieties.  This sounds like another that I want to try.
 
Olga Booker
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Cy, I don't know where you live so all I can tell you is that the Charentais needs a long period of sunshine and heat, a  fair bit of water too.  If you were in Europe, I'd happily send you some seeds.  My garden is so fragrant at the moment, wherever you go, you can smell the sweet, sweet smell of melon.  At the moment, we are eating 2 or 3 melons a day.  My favorite way is to eat it with a paper thin slice of prosciutto ham (very popular way to eat it here in France).  The sweet and salty combination is just wonderful!

I don't know anything about the American hybrids mentioned in wikipedia, that is news to me.  I knew that there were some pseudo (hybrid) Charentais that did not quite taste right, but that's all I know unfortunately.  I hope you will find the perfect melon for you!
 
Cy Cobb
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I have a good growing season here that fit those requirements, so I will look for some Charentais seeds closer to me.  We do have a few really good cantaloupe varieties here in the US, but I'm a curious person and have to try everything at least once...maybe twice to be sure...

I like your sweet/salty recommendation, but I think for my taste, I'll try it with what we call "Country Ham." Essentially, it's a salt cured/cold smoked ham as opposed to a sugar cured sweet ham.
 
Cy Cobb
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Well folks, I finally had my first orange fleshed watermelon last night.  It was a seedless one a bit smaller that the yellow seedless ones I tried previously.  It was ever so slightly on the overripe side where the part around the seed pips gets a bit mushy, but the rest of it was really good.  It wasn't as juicy as other watermelons, but I'm certain that was because of the drought conditions.  It had, as some people described, a tropical flavor that my family enjoyed.  I made the decision right there to add orange to my growing list of seeds.
 
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I just noticed this thread.


I posted things elsewhere, that may fit over here.


Yellow Fleshed Moon And Stars

Yamato Silver

Royal Golden

Lemon Drop

Cekirdegi Oyali

Wilson's Sweet

Art Combe's Ancient




I've been thinking of making a watermelon breeding project. Cekirdegi Oyali, simply has interesting seeds. They're mottled.

Art Combe's Ancient, the watermelons have handles.

Wilson's Sweet, the Watermelon has interesting mottled rind, which supposedly helps to prevent sun scald. And it's supposedly good tasting.

I'd prefer to cross these all into each other, and move the mentioned traits into one another. These all likely have fun disease resistant traits as well.



Royal Golden. It's related to Golden Midget. Both were likely developed from an extinct variety known as Pumpkin Rind. Both of these came pretty close to "extinction." Like some yellow leaved tomato varieties like Honor Bright, the foliage also turns somewhat yellow. That's not a great thing - yellow leaves can help attract pests, they aren't as healthy as green ones.



I'm highly interested in an Asian Watermelon called Lemon Drop, which turns yellow almost immediately after forming, and gradually turns more yellow as time goes on.

That's a different trait from the other yellow Watermelons. I have an inkling that it has C. melo genes, maybe from a wild Agrestis Japanese type? Something like that. I'd like to grow it, either way and cross it with other yellows.


Yellow Fleshed Moon And Stars, is also of interest. For one, I dislike red flesh. Also. Like the standard moon and stars, these tend to have one large "moon" along with smaller dots on the rind. Watermelons are sold with rinds, that looks really nice on products for markets.


Yamato Silver, I'd like to end up with a watermelon like that as an end product. Maybe other types have other nice sweetness or flavor genetics that can come over as well.


These watermelons all have something in common. Many of them have genes, which make them unique, and they aren't found in a ton of other varieties - some even almost had the traits go extinct. I'd like to mix them into a diverse mix - or cross them one at a time.

This sort of mix would probably attract any future plant breeder over to it, or a mixed end product would do that.



Some of those taste pretty different from one another.




As for Cucumis melo.


Bidwell Casaba - Supposed great taste, nice rind.

"This melon was grown by General John Bidwell, who received his seed stock from the USDA in 1869. He was a soldier in the Civil War and also became a U.S. senator."


Ananas D'Amerique A Chair Verte - "This historic heirloom was grown by Thomas Jefferson in 1794. It was offered commercially in the U.S. in 1824, and it was illustrated in color in France in 1854 in the Vilmorin Album."

I've heard that these taste pretty good. Plus there's some historic value.


Golden Crispy - Pear shaped fruit - supposedly, the inner flesh smells like "hot garbage", Baker Creek says it has a unique aroma - and some reviews mention a fuzzy fruit texture and other reviews mention a bad flavor or texture. Multiple odd traits, sounds like something I'll grow.


Hara Madhu - High Brix, supposedly good flavor, old landrace / grex stabilized after mixing multiple landraces inside of India.


Japanese Tiger - Interesting Rind, probably tastes interesting.


Kajari - Interesting rind, supposedly good flavor.


Kiku Chrysanthemum - Supposed to taste of Greek Yogurt and Pear. I'd disagree but it's seeminly different from Asian or other melons flavors. Some call it bland.

Tigger - Aroma, and seems to be from an Armenian Mountain Valley. Probably tastes interesting.



I've also been considering growing out Xylangouro and Armenian striped cucumbers again. These are technically melons.


Back to Lemon Drop Watermelon.




A lady named Janna posted some images with fuzzy yellow-ish fruits, and what could be divits in the rind, rather than just markings like typical watermelons have. On the Baker Creek reviews page.

Some plants seem to have different colorations as well.



I don't know if interspecific would be a correct term, but from images I've found, I've noticed some odd traits, other than the yellow outer rind, not a yellow when ripe type that also messes with the foliage - sort of gene.


I'm no watermelon expert.


Reviews actually have some decent images and things.

Some seed and things did come in.


I'm looking forward, to growing some of these different things out.


Fuzzy immature, younger watermelons - that can be seen as fuzzy from farther away, seems odd to me.





I'll likely be growing a lot of things in the coming year.

Maybe even Sicana or other "melons."



I'm not a Watermelon expert - but I don't know if I've seen immature watermelons with  actual hairs on them, at any stage in their life. I noted other odd features as well.


Carosello Barese - a fuzzy C. melo. Those sort of hairs on an immature watermelon.



Either way. I'm probably going to post pictures as well, when it comes to it.


I'll try my best to review things.
 
Cy Cobb
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Garrett,

I just finished my 2nd year of open pollinated crosses in my watermelon project.  So far, I've got 10 different varieties in the mix with varying shades of red, orange, & yellow flesh.  I still have enough original seed to last me many years of new first generation crosses.  Once I get through the original seed, I'll begin mixing the first generation crosses again.  I've come to learn that everyone has a bit of a different growing situation, preferences for their desired outcome, and plans for what will work for them.  I would love to have an entire field to plant for all of my landrace projects, but what I lack in resources, I make up for in effort.  That said, I do no hand-pollinating, even though it would give me more fruit & known crosses.  I am trusting my yield to the natural pollinators as a mutually beneficial partnership.  I have to believe that over generations, I'll get more pollination & fruit set due to the survivors having that "something special" that the pollinators like.  An interesting outcome for me this year, was the highly variable seeds within my harvested melons.  Some large, some extremely tiny, many average volume of seeds, but one yellow fleshed with about 4 times the number of seeds as any other its size.  I was hesitant to keep seeds from that one, but I did anyway.  At this point in my project, I'm still keeping each melons' seeds separate so that I can get an equal representation of genetics at planting rather that skewing the population to whichever seed is most represented.  I know not everyone does it this way, but like I said, we all have different ways to reach our own goals.

I also expanded my Cucumis Melo landrace project a bit this year.  One of my additions was a Crenshaw type that looked good, but out of 10 seeds or so, even with vigorous growth, I got flowers, but no melons from them.  I successfully grew Iroquois Cantaloupe, and have saved seeds from the few melons that could've been pollinated by the Crenshaw, so we'll see in future generations... I did have a volunteer hybrid melon with mixed cantaloupe/honeydew parentage that produced 2 fruit.  I learned that if I harvest when the rind changes color, I'll be OK.  Since I didn't know that, I waited until they "slipped" from the vine, and that was a week or so too late.  I read that's a honeydew trait.  

As with my other landrace projects, I draw inspiration from those pioneers that have come before me.  I learn much from them, but still have my own ideas about what I want.  Part of this is experience & education.  Each year I do this, I learn more & more about what I like & what I don't.  Even if a given crop is successful for me, I may decide to try a different direction next time.  

Good luck with your mottled yellow pumpkin skinned, yellow fleshed, color change ripeness indicator watermelon with a handy carry handle project.
 
Garrett Schantz
Posts: 216
Location: Mississippi Zone 8b
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I've simply noticed that these traits almost died off in certain situations, so I'd like to try and make a disease resistant and nice looking / tasty melon.


I'll probably try sending seed out to others as well.


I'll probably do a mix of what you mentioned with letting bees do what they want and doing some hand pollination.


Spreading around grexes and the like with these traits, should also mean that others will inadvertently use or just have these traits in their populations.



And yeah.


Different people have different preferences. Taste wise.


And texture wise.



I'm like others, in hating red watermelons. The color genetics, also indicate a chemical and flavor alongside it.


Sweetness genes and things, can be seperate from the colors.


Hope your project goes well!
 
Popeye has his spinach. I have this tiny ad:
Soil-First Gardening Extended Edition by Anna Hess
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