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The Winter or Santa Claus Melon and How To Find and Enjoy It

Patty collects various recipes from past generations and is interested in early American history, the Civil War, and the 19th century.

Piel de Sapo or Santa Claus Melon.

Piel de Sapo or Santa Claus Melon.

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

Largest Producers in the Western Hemisphere

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..

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.

HUB REFERENCES:

  • 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

Comments

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on November 28, 2012:

GoodLady - Cabbage and nuts would be a perfect combination for the melon and I will definitely try that this year. I wonder if any of your markets will have the Santa Claus Melon, since Spain is not awfully far away?

tillsontitan - When I was in St. Louis, none of use were regular alcohol drinkers, so we ordered one drink containing juices and Midori and all tried it. We found it delicious.

Mary Craig from New York on November 28, 2012:

Nope, never heard of the Santa Claus melon and to make matters worse, I thought "Midori" was liquor (well, in all fairness to me, it is ALSO liquor). This hub contains lots of information. You've helped us in many ways when it comes to Christmas melons, looking for different kinds, buying them, eating them and their nutritional value! What more could we ask for?

Voted up, useful, and interesting.

Penelope Hart from Rome, Italy on November 28, 2012:

I'd never heard of the Santa Claus melon until just now and what a fascinating 'melon' hub. I think, if we had it here, and it doesn't look all that unfamiliar, I'd use it in crunchy salads with cabbage and nuts. Nice one!

Pinning in my virtual recipe collection.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on November 27, 2012:

Melovy - Id seen these melons many times under even more names, but I like the holiday names quite well. It IS all fun.

kashmir56 - Our Big Lots stores always put up Christmas décor in AUGUST. lol Of course, some do their shopping then. Thanks for reading and sharing!

drbj - Your comments are as entertaining as your Hubs! I always appreciate your visits.

drbj and sherry from south Florida on November 27, 2012:

I like your hubs, Patty, because it is rare for me not to find out something I didn't know about before thereon. Including this Santa Claus melon. Thanks for enlarging considerably my melon sphere.

Thomas Silvia from Massachusetts on November 27, 2012:

Hi Patty great hub, i have not ever heard of the Santa Claus Melon and found this information very interesting. Now I'll have to look to see where i can buy one and try it.

There are only a few who have Christmas lights lit yet near my house but the mall and stores have been playing Christmas music before Thanksgiving .

Vote up and more !!! SHARING !

Yvonne Spence from UK on November 27, 2012:

I've never heard of the Santa Claus melon before by any of its name, and I'm not sure if I've ever seen it. Looks like it would be a fun addition to Christmas!

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on November 27, 2012:

Dorsi - I need to see that episode of Iron Chef; have watched it for some time.

FreezeFrame34 - I was happy when I saw the question to answer, since I'd just seen a Santa Claus Melon in the store!

Are Christmas lights up in your neighborhoods yet? My whol block has twice as many lights as last year! - At least we can have some light at night now. :)

FreezeFrame34 from Charleston SC on November 26, 2012:

Very interesting!

You have opened my eyes to the Christmas melon and now I want to try one for myself! It looks delicious!

Dorsi Diaz from The San Francisco Bay Area on November 26, 2012:

Interesting hub Patti - I first heard of the Santa Claus Melon last night on Iron Chefs lol! I've got to get some and try it out now!