Ripe Charentais will be a creamy, tan color, and their aroma will be strong and perfumed. Melons should also give slightly and have no silvery sheen.
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To simply classify a Charentais melon as a gourmet French Cantaloupe does not do nearly enough to describe the aromatic, deliciously rich and downright luxurious experience that comes with consuming - or even just smelling - them. Originating in the south of France, these melons' flavor speaks volumes to the skill and patience of French cultivators from almost 100 years ago. Because Charentais need some tender loving care to avoid bruising and can't easily be shipped long distances, few groceries will carry them and large scale farms will not usually grow them. For Happy Boy, however, they are a celebrated crop perfect for farmers' markets, and I love watching when customers-in-the-know discover these rare gems in our stands.
Grapefruit sized, they will have a creamy-tan skin with dark green sutures when ripe. Slice one open to find a deep orange hue with an easily-scooped-out small seed pocket in the center of the fruit. Their flesh is firmer and richer than your average cantaloupe, and the flavor is pretty much unsurpassed: sweet, with an even - but not overpowering - musky note and smooth texture. This complexity makes Charentais an ideal melon for pairing with other ingredients.
Charentais' size make them the perfect melon for 2 people to share, or one to enjoy thoroughly. Choose them mostly by their smell - the richer their aroma, the richer their taste. Sometimes our most ripe and ready Charentais melons will have small cracks on their blossom ends, where the flavor could no longer be contained - make sure to place these in the fridge as soon as possible.
Try to be gentle with Charentais melon as their outer rind is very thin and the bruise easily. These are best eaten quickly, or stored in the fridge for a few days - especially if they have any small cracks at the blossom end.
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These amazing gourmet melons can pair with a wide variety of other foods, including savory items. Try wrapping with cured meats, like prosciutto, or eating with feta or goat cheese. Charentais also go great with dessert wines, like port or sherry. On especially hot days, I will cut one in half and freeze for a single serving creamy treat right out of the rind.
NOT YOUR AVERAGE CARROTS
All it takes is one crunchy-bite, and you'll know why Happy Boy carrots are a customer favorite. Eat them raw, chop some up for a salad, roast them or even make a sweet-carroty soup - these are a must-try crop!