The tale of the Charentais melon
Originally from Africa, melon was already grown by the Egyptians back in Antiquity. At that time it was eaten as a vegetable. Because it is actually a vegetable, not a fruit. Just like pumpkins and courgettes, it belongs to the family of cucurbits.
Charles VIII introduced it to France at the end of the 15th century. Firstly known as the “Cantaloup melon”, it was then introduced to Charente, which would give it its permanent name.
Careful though, “Charentais” does not mean that it’s only grown in Charente! Charentais melons can come from Morocco, Spain and even Senegal. But for best quality, wait for the peak French season which spans June to September. Some melons have been granted a PGI (Protected Geographical Indication), attesting to their quality. This is the case for the Haut-Poitou melon, from the region north of Poitiers and the Futuroscope. Thanks to this quality production, the Vienne department is currently the leading producer of melons in France.
The recipe: Charentais melon and Pineau des Charentes Trou Charentais
The trou (basically “the hole between 2”) is a traditional custom in French gastronomy. It is a festive digestive comprising an alcoholic beverage, served with a suitable fruit sorbet. Recipes vary depending on seasons and on French regions.
It is traditionally served between two dishes during a festive meal as a “digestive pause”.
Here, we invite you to discover a very easy-to-make recipe which you can also serve as a dessert.
Eat and share with moderation!
For a 500 g container
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Ready in 2h
• 2 melons (1 kg of fruit approx.)
• 180 g sugar
• 50 g glucose (or honey)
• 30 cl water
• 3 tablespoons of red Pineau
• A few mint leaves for decoration (optional)
To prepare the melon sorbet
Peel and cut the melon into cubes. You should obtain around 900 g of melon flesh.
Put the water, sugar and glucose (or honey) into a saucepan. Mix together and simmer gently. When the sugar is entirely dissolved, add the melon and leave to poach for a few minutes. Blend all in a mixer and leave to cool completely (it should reach 4°C).
With an ice cream machine: pour the mixture into the ice cream machine and leave to process until you get the desired texture. Time varies with machines, refer to instructions.
Without an ice cream machine: pour the mixture into a container suitable for the freezer. Leave the preparation to freeze-set for 30 minutes. Remove it from the freezer and mix it using a hand blender (or mix with a fork). Return it to the freezer and repeat this step every 30 minutes until the mixture becomes a sorbet (around 2 to 3 hours).
Presenting the Trou Charentais
Just before serving, place a scoop of melon sorbet (or two if served as a dessert) in an ice cream cup or in a ramekin, then drizzle 2 or 3 tablespoons of red Pineau des Charentes over (based on your taste).
Decorate with a mint leaf.
Serve and taste immediately.
Variation: for children, serve the sorbet, without alcohol, or with fresh homemade mint syrup.