A Crenshaw melon is a hybrid melon with very sweet, juicy orange flesh. Crenshaws are among the sweetest of melons when they are well cultivated, making them a popular melon during their peak season between July and September. Many markets and greengrocers carry Crenshaw melons in the summertime, along with an assortment of other refreshing summer fruits.
When ripe, Crenshaw melons are roughly ovoid, with a greenish-yellow, slightly ribbed skin. Inside, the melons are a rich salmon pink, with a large seeded area in the center portion of the melon. To select a good Crenshaw melon in the store, look for a melon which feels heavy for its size, and yields slightly at the end of the melon where the flower once was. Keep the melon under refrigeration for up to three days before using.
The melons were bred by crossing casaba melons with Persian melons, also sometimes called muskmelons. The favorable traits of both melon varieties successfully manifested in the cross breed, and it quickly became one of the more popular melons on the market. The melons can be eaten plain as a snack food, mixed in with fruit salads, or wrapped in prosciutto for a twist on the classic prosciutto wrapped melon appetizer. Crenshaw melon sorbet is also a great summer treat, and some people like to pickle slightly green Crenshaws to eat year-round.
As all melons prefer warm weather and full sun, the Crenshaw melon grows best in hot to temperate climates, and it requires patience to grow. Start by planting melon seedlings in a hot place in well-conditioned soil which receives full sun. The soil should be worked with compost and mulch so that it is rich, but also drains well, and stakes to support the melon vines as they grow are an excellent addition. Keep the melons well watered, and cover them at night if the temperatures dip.
In many cases, a ripe Crenshaw melon will pull itself off the vine with its own weight. In other instances, a very gentle tug on the melon should separate it from the vine. If the melon does not give easily, it is not quite ripe and it should be allowed to stay on the vine to develop maximum flavor and sweetness. As is often the case with melons, most of the crop ripens all at once, so be prepared to give away large volumes of melons, since you will probably not be able to eat them all. Once all the vines have borne fruit, remove them and recondition the soil for the next crop.