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The Casaba melon is unique in its appearance, thus once identified it is easily recognized. It has an ovoid to round shape that comes to a point at its stem end and averages 5 pounds in weight. When ripe, its skin will be a golden yellow with hints of green throughout. Its thick, hard rind has irregular shallow furrows running from end to end. The creamy pale green to white flesh is mildly sweet with nuances of Asian pear and cucumber. Unlike other muskmelon varieties its aroma is very subtle and its skin is void of the typical netting.
Casaba melons are available late summer through the early winter.
Botanically known as Cucumis melo var inodorus and a member of the Cucurbitaceae family, the Casaba melon is a unique looking variety of muskmelon. It belongs to the winter melon group, which is not an indicator of their growing season, but rather their hardiness and long shelf-life. They require 110 frost-free days to reach harvest, which is more days than required by the summer melons (cantaloupe and watermelon). Other winter melons include, charental, Crenshaw, honeydew, and Persian. Casaba melons are a parent melon along with a cantaloupe variety to the Crenshaw melon.
Casaba melons are a good source of vitamin C, B6 and folate. They also supply minerals such as choline, potassium and magnesium.
Casaba melons are best utilized in raw preparations and will work well in both sweet and savory dishes. Clean the melons under running water as their deep exterior grooves can sometimes hold dirt and unwanted debris. Once peeled, the cubed flesh may be used similarly to other muskmelon, and perfect when a more subtle sugar level is desired. The pureed flesh can be added to cold soups, smoothies, sorbets, sauces and cocktails. The Casaba melon pairs well with curry, cucumber, chilies, lime, red onion, mint, basil, coconut milk and salty cheeses. The hard rind of the Casaba allows for and extended shelf life. Though the melons will continue to ripen and become more soft if after harvest if left at room temperature, their sugar levels will not increase once removed from the vine. Refrigerate cut up melon in a covered container up to three days.
The Casaba melon was introduced to the United States in the late nineteenth century when it was imported from Kasaba, Turkey. Unlike several melon varieties, the Casaba does not "slip" from the vine at maturity. The fruits are harvested by cutting the stem when the melons are reasonably mature and then held in storage until the blossom end becomes soft.
Recipes that include Casaba Melon. One is easiest, three is harder.
|My Man's Belly||Cool and Spicy Melon Soup|
|The Cilantropist||Melon Cucumber Salad with Lime and Mint|
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