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The Charentais is a petite-sized melon averaging 2 to 3 pounds in weight. It has a smooth, hard, pistachio-grey colored skin and distinct green ribbing. Its dense flesh is salmon-orange and surrounds a central seed cavity. The succulent yet firm flesh is incredibly sweet and gives off highly fragrant aromas of tropical fruit and floral notes. Its delicious flavor and robust scent must be appreciated at its height of maturity as it has a delicate and short shelf-life.
Charentais melons are available during the summer months. Mexico exports Charentais melons during the winter months.
Charentais melons, also known as French cantaloupes, are a member of the Cucurbitaceae family and botanically classified as Cucumis melo cantalupensis. They fall under the muskmelon genus and are a highly valued yet low production farmers market variety of cantaloupe that are too delicate for commercial shipping. Unlike another famous french melon, the Cavaillon, Charentais melons are not protected by an AOC (appellation d'origine contrôlée) which designates by law specific growing regions. Therefore, Charentais melons can legally be grown anywhere.
Charentais melons are a good source of beta-carotene, folic acid, potassium, vitamin C and dietary fiber.
The Charentais melon should only be used in raw preparations as it is not suited well for cooking. Appropriate for both sweet and savory dishes, it is an excellent compliment to salty meats and cheeses or simply eaten fresh as a sweet snack. The Chanterais melon can be used as a breakfast fruit and as a salad ingredient and makes a great addition to both drinks and desserts. Charentais melon pairs well with feta and goat cheeses, almonds and hazelnuts, mint, citrus, port, muscat and cured pork. It may be used in recipes similarly to cantaloupe. Once ripe, it is highly perishable and must be kept refrigerated until ready to use.
An annual festival the town of Saint-Georges-des-Coteaux honors the Charentais melon.
The Charentais originated in the 1920's in the Poitou-Charentes region of western France. It was developed as a refined cantaloupe, free of natural and highly occurring warts of its parent varieties. Though the Charentais originated in France much of the Charentais melons consumed in France are now imported from North Africa. There is limited production of Charentais melons in the United States.
Recipes that include Charentais Melon. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Food 52||Charentais Melon with Spiced Quinoa, Yogurt, and Pistachio|
|My Cooking Hut||Cantaloupe Gazpacho|
|Stresscake||Soup Glacee of Cavaillon Melon|
|The Bounty Hunter||French Melon Sorbet|
|The Cook's Atelier||Charentais Melon Salad|
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