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Jun 16, 2013 01:55 PM

A melon that is TOO sweet?

I am a melon fanatic. Many, many melons go into the compost every summer because they just don't do it for me. A couple of years ago Tuscan melons appeared and I was in heaven. It seemed that every Tuscan bought was soft, fragrant, sweet, and had that slightly musky flavor of a great cantaloupe.

But I haven't had a decent Tuscan for a long, long time. The other day I bought a Sugar Kiss melon at Berkeley Bowl. I never thought I would find a melon too sweet, but this one is nothing but a sugar bomb. The texture is fine, but it is so cloying that I taste nothing but sugar.

Kind of reminds me of some of the white corn I've had. (I am also a corn fanatic, and sometimes the new varieties of white corn can be so sweet that the taste of the corn itself is nearly lost.)

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  1. I feel you concerning the rising profile of sugar in various items ...... growers are manipulating the characteristics of their trade and the sweetness factor is an easy one to crank up apparently.

    1. my suggestion would be to rely on the farmers markets for fresh produce, unless the retailer (rainbow, for one, not familiar with the Bbowl's m.o.) identifies the specific growers for their goods. find a grower that raises the varieties with the characteristics you prefer. my own preferences are similar to yours, but my spouse doesn't care much for melons, and can't suggest a grower and variety since we sample them so rarely. with sweet corn, have eaten less and less white corn because it's most likely to be sweet without complexity, and generally have luck with bi-color.

      1. It's exactly the same phenomenon as corn and pineapples. They bred these varieties that are sweet before they're ripe, so they're sugary but lack the acid balance and complex flavors and aromas of traditional varieties. Most people don't notice the difference or don't care, so the traditional varieties almost disappear from the marketplace.

        Discussion from last year with some exceptions:

        6 Replies
        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          AND peaches AND plums … even at the farmer's markets they're taking over. I found a favorite grower's white peaches all sweetness and no peach, though the older-variety yellows had a great aroma and acidity. When I mentioned all this, the younger guy - who seems to be taking over the business - got almost indignant with me, while the older man just nodded.

          I've not tried the Tuscan melons, but we had some in France whose skin was like suede and flesh was deep and rich. It was never terribly sweet, just buttery and delicious - a man we were visiting in Paris served that with sliced ham and bread for supper, a bottle of bright, flinty white alongside, and when we got down to Burgundy we had more from the family garden. I'm told it can't be grown here for some reason, but that was over twenty years ago.

          1. re: Will Owen

            Possibly Tuscans may require a longer growing period than we have here. I was told by my plant provider that that is the case with Piel de Sapo. She did sell me a Charantais plant.

            1. re: chocolatetartguy

              I've had good local piel de sapo. There are lots of places around here with plenty long enough growing seasons. Lodi's great for melons.

              1. re: chocolatetartguy

                Charentais - that's the name! I knew it but just couldn't call it up. So if they can be grown here - "here" being California - I wonder who might be doing that? It would have to be a farmer's market item … and when we had ours in France it was the end of August / first of September. So maybe I have time to dig around.

                1. re: Will Owen

                  Look for local Charentais melons in mid-July through September.

                  1. re: Will Owen

                    I've purchased them at Alameda Natural Grocery in season as well.

            2. I agree with just about everything that has been said to date. The same problems are plaguing peaches, nectarines, pineapple, and other fruits. Sweet trumps flavor. I often hit three farmers markets in a weekend. Peaches and nectarines, especially, need a hit of acid to balance the sweetness. There's a "hippie" farmer at the Saturday Berkeley market who grows Blenheim apricots and old variety peaches, and I've gotten some of the best peaches ever from him.

              I always try the melons at the markets, but rarely find ones that sing to me. My best luck has been to go to Berkeley Bowl and peruse the melons that are already cut. If they're soft and have a good color, I usually find them pretty good.

              Today I was at the Temescal farmers market and found some really small Charentias melons that, judging from the samples, are the first I've ever found outside of France that taste like the ones in France. Unfortunately, I didn't note which stall they were from. Might have been Happy Boy Farms.

              4 Replies
              1. re: TopoTail

                I have good luck with Blossom Bluff. They usually have several varieties of each fruit and they'll tell you which ones are sweeter (often labeled "sub-acid") and which are higher acid.

                1. re: TopoTail

                  Ram Das is also at the Berkeley Tuesday market. Best peaches, pears, and oranges.


                  1. re: TopoTail

                    Damn. went to the Tuesday Berkeley farmers market today and those incredible little charentais melons were not to be found. I did buy a melon of undetermined variety at Full Belly, but I fear it's destined for the compost pile.

                    1. re: TopoTail

                      I have had really good melons from Happy Boy and really meh melons from Happy Boy. They vary by year and I think it is still really early for melons.

                    2. Thanks Robert. Is the Ram Das booth the one manned by the tall, skinny, guy with a long white beard?

                      1 Reply