Crane Melon

Ark of taste
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In Sonoma County (Ca), Crane is synonymous with melon. The season coincides with our Indian summer and grape harvest. The Cranes (from Missouri) first settled in Sonoma County in the 1850s after the Crane brothers left the gold fields of the Sierra foothills where they were grocers. They settled in the southern Santa Rosa area and became farmers. In the 1920s, Oliver Crane planted a Japanese melon that had a reputation for growing well, un-irrigated, in clay soils common in some parts of the county. He thought the melon was too thin-skinned and fragile, so he crossed it with a cantaloupe. His resulting melon (a bit more sturdy) was known as the “Japanese melon” until World War II when the local farmers changed the name to Crane. Four generations of the Crane family have raised these melons which they sell direct-to-consumers from their old Melon Barn. In the 1990s the family lost their attempt to restrict the legal use of “Crane” to only those melons grown on their farm. Today, the Crane melon is grown by several growers who farm in the county’s warm, inland valleys. This 4-6 pound, tear-drop shaped melon has light orange flesh that is highly aromatic, fruity-sweet and exceptionally juicy. The melon is rarely available in conventional markets; customers buy Cranes from the Melon Barn on Petaluma Hill Road and at local farmers’ markets from September until the first frost. When perfectly ripe, it has a tendency to crack open and perish.

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