Rocky Sweet Melon
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Rocky Sweet melons are small, round to oval fruits, averaging 12 to 17 centimeters in diameter. When young, the firm, green-brown rind is covered in fine, fibrous netting, similar to a cantaloupe, and will gradually turn yellow-orange with maturity. Underneath the surface, the soft, aqueous flesh is lime green, lightening progressively to pale green in the center. There is also a central cavity filled with many tan seeds encased in a viscous liquid. Rocky Sweet melons have a sweet, musky aroma that intensifies as the melon reaches peak ripeness and have a sweet, subtly floral flavor, reminiscent of cantaloupe and honeydew.
Rocky Sweet melons are available in the summer.
Rocky Sweet melons, botanically classified as Cucumis melo, are a hybrid variety of muskmelon that belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family. The sweet fruits are a cross between a honeydew and a cantaloupe, exhibiting signature characteristics such as netted skin and pale green flesh. Rocky Sweet melons are specialty variety, favored for their sweet flavor and tender consistency, but due to their short shelf life, they are not commercially cultivated and are primarily found through farmer’s markets.
Rocky Sweet melons are a good source of vitamins A and C, which can help boost the immune system and reduce inflammation, and contain potassium, calcium, and iron. The melons also provide some dietary fiber to help stimulate digestion.
Rocky Sweet melons are best suited for fresh preparations, utilized in both sweet and savory dishes, and their flavor is enhanced when chilled. The melon can be sliced or cubed, with the skin and seeds removed, and served as a stand-alone snack, mixed into fruit bowls, or wrapped in meats as an appetizer. They can also be halved and served with cottage cheese, tossed into green salads, blended into cold soups, or used to flavor juices, smoothies, and margaritas. In addition to savory dishes, Rocky Sweet melons are utilized for their sweet flavor in chilled desserts such as ice cream, sorbets, and popsicles. Rocky Sweet melons pair well with aromatics such as ginger, mint, basil, and tarragon, soft cheeses such as burrata and mozzarella, yogurt, fruits such as blueberries and citrus, arugula, seafood, honey, and peanuts. It is recommended to store whole Rocky Sweet melons at room temperature and chill before serving. Once cut, any unused melon should be wrapped and kept in the refrigerator for up to three days.
The Rocky Sweet melons featured in the photograph above were grown at Munak Ranch, a farm located in the Upper Salinas Valley near Paso Robles, California. Munak Ranch is known for its produce, including melons, and the land for the ranch was first purchased in the mid-20th century as the warm sunny days and cold nights of the region created an optimal environment for cultivation. Prior to the farm’s present-day success, owners Ed and Pearl Munak were not always farmers. The California couple had previous careers in aerospace engineering and law, making for a unique combination of skillsets to develop the future ranch. More than thirty years later, Munak Ranch has become known for its melons and tomatoes, providing sweet, fresh produce at farmer’s markets weekly across California.
Muskmelons have origins in the Middle East and Central Asia and have been cultivated since ancient times. The fruits were then transported by merchants between Europe and Asia and were introduced to the New World in the 16th century through Christopher Columbus. The original muskmelons were known to have varying flavors from semi-sweet to bland, and it wasn’t until the 17th century that muskmelons developed their sweet, aromatic flavors. In the modern-day, many new hybrid varieties were created, including Rock Sweet melons, to meet the changing consumer market for sweeter varieties. Today Rock Sweet melons can be found through farmer’s markets and specialty grocers across the United States, especially in California and Colorado.