The Carosello belongs to the Cucumis melo species. They are fruits that are eaten as an alternative to cucumber and they are harvested prior to ripening. Thanks to how easily this variety crossbreeds with the various local varieties of melons and the patient selection made by Apulian farmers, over time, Carosello fruits of different shapes, sizes, level of tomentose (presence of hair on the fruits) and especially colour have been obtained.
Among these varieties there is the Massafra Green Round Carosello which unlike other muskmelons has more evident spots of light green on the dark green outer skin. The Massafra Green Round has a limited amount of hair when in an advanced stage of maturation whereas during the initial stages it has a lot of hairs on the skin. It is usually harvested when it reaches the size of a large peach, but it is also tasty and thoroughly enjoyed when it is picked while it is still small. The texture of the muskmelon is soft, whereas its ribbing is quite pronounced.
The Carosello is eaten raw, without any dressing or it can be enjoyed with a light sprinkle of salt; it is also enjoyed very much in salads, with tomatoes and oregano or with bean puree. During the summer and long lunches, they are eaten during breaks (“spingtor”) between courses or as a midday snack.
Carosello have been cultivated in Puglia for a very long time even if there are no written sources that can precisely determine its origins. One of the first documents available has a note dating back to 1608 (“Apprezzo della città di Gravina”) in which watermelons are mentioned referring to Caroselli which, in many local dialects, designate the Carosello. Another quotation dates back to 1833 and refers to the “poponelle” served in the Otranto religious school during the summer months.
Until the nineties, the Massafra Green Round Carosello represented a source of wealth for the peasants of Massafra who sold it together with other local fruits during the summer season. Today it is rarely found, as many farmers have decided to replace this crop with others that are easier to cultivate.
The research activities necessary for the reporting of this product in the Ark of Taste online catalogue were financed by the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies, the General Directorate of the Tertiary Sector and Corporate Social Responsibility – notice n° 1/2018 “Slow Food in action: communities protagonists of change”, pursuant to Article 72 of the Tertiary Sector Code, referred to in Legislative Decree No. 117/2017.