The Winter or Santa Claus Melon and How To Find and Enjoy It
Abundant In the Northern Hemisphere
The Christmas Melon or Santa Claus Melon or Camouflage Melon is a cultivar of the Muskmelon. It has a mild, melon-like flavor and is very sweet. Its scientific name is Cucumis Melo Inodorus (winter melon).
Several of our specialty markets and many of our chain supermarkets in Central Ohio, like Giant Eagle, carry the Santa Claus Melon among an array of a dozen varieties of melons from around the world. In fact, growers tell us that this melon, Piel de Sapo, thrives in several places within the Northern Hemisphere. The largest region for growing Santa Claus Melons is the romantic La Mancha in Spain, south of Madrid. Murcia, Spain also cultivates a significant crop yearly.
Piel de Sapo is also grown in South and Central America during the North's colder months, making it more readily available via international shipping at Christmas. These melons are shipped largely to Europe, while California and Arizona produce the melon for the USA. Colorado is under study in 2012 for possible production of the Christmas Melon.
Largest Producers In the World
Santa Clause Melon is grown here in the largest quantities of all from May through June and harvested from mid-July through September..
The growing and harvest season here extends from mid-March to mid-July.
Largest Producers in the Western Hemisphere
Types of Melons For ComparisonClick thumbnail to view full-size
The Muskmelons of Persia and India
The muskmelon (Cucumis melo) was first found in India and Persia (Iraq) in the 1600s as far as we know and cultivated into several different varieties, including the Santa Claus Melon in Spain. It is the muskmelon that yields the raw products to make Midori liqueur, a green alcohol beverage first made in Japan in the 1980s and named with the Japanese word for "green" (midori).
Midori was introduced into the St. Louis test market in the very early 1980s and was a fast success -- I visited St. Louis in those years with family friends and saw all the posters and billboards for Midori, not knowing what it was at the time. I assumed it was made from honeydew melons. As it turns out, honeydew is a type of muskmelon, as is the Santa Claus Melon. Those used in Midori come from the Yubari region of Japan and bring incredible prices at auction - up to $12,000 for a single fruit in 2012.
Choosing a Good Melon
This particular melon should have rather soft ends in a body that is12 inches long and 6 inches in diameter. The thick, blotchy green rough skin that leads to the nickname Toad Skin prevents the aroma of ripe melon to come through, but the body should be firm. So, the melon is oval, with softish ends when ripe, without bruising or odd colorings. Some bright yellow lines usually indicate ripeness and sweetness.
Some sources list a totally yellow skinned version of the fruit as well and this is likely the closely related Canary Melon.
The seeds inside of the melon are arranged like cantaloupe seeds, rather than watermelon seeds, and need to be removed before eating.
Keep the melon at room temperature up to two days before cutting. After cutting, place in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. It really does not keep for months, but is grown in the Southern Hemisphere during out autumn season to provide Christmas Melon during Christmas and New Year's Week.
Choosing Nutrition: Potassium
This melon is a very good source of Potassium in that 1 Cup of the melon furnishes 14% of the daily allowance of this mineral recommended for adults on a 2,000 calorie daily diet. The melon is low calorie, low in salt, and low in sugars, with just 5% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of carbohydrates..
Nutrition In the Christmas Melon or Santa Claus Melon
|Serving size: 1 Cup|
|Calories from Fat||0|
|% Daily Value *|
|Fat 0 g|
|Saturated fat 0 g|
|Unsaturated fat 0 g|
|Carbohydrates 16 g||5%|
|Sugar 0 g|
|Fiber 0 g|
|Protein 1 g||2%|
|Cholesterol 0 mg|
|* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.|
Uses for Christmas Melon
The Santa Claus or Christmas Melon can be enjoyed by itself, cut into sections, or together with other fruits in a fruit compote during the late autumn and early winter. When available in summer, it is good cold for a refreshing side dish or dessert.
- The Fresh Market,
- Hoffman's Markets
- The Ohio State University Extension Service
- University of Chicago - Champlain Extension Service
- Whole Foods Markets
© 2012 Patty Inglish MS