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fruit-melons-msg - 10/24/15


Period melons. References. Recipes. Watermelons, cantaloupe.


NOTE: See also the files: fruits-msg, watermelons-msg, fruit-pears-msg, fruit-quinces-msg, apples-msg, nuts-msg, drying-foods-msg, cider-msg, vinegar-msg.





This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I  have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.


This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


I have done  a limited amount  of  editing. Messages having to do  with separate topics  were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the  message IDs  were removed to save space and remove clutter.


The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make  no claims  as  to the accuracy  of  the information  given  by the individual authors.


Please respect the time  and  efforts of  those who have written  these messages. The copyright status  of these messages  is  unclear  at this time. If information  is  published  from  these  messages, please give credit to the originator(s).


Thank you,

   Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                         Stefan at florilegium.org



Date: Fri, 26 Feb 1999 17:37:26 -0800 (PST)

From: Huette von <ahrenshav at yahoo.com>

Subject: Re: SC - Melons.


- ---"Alderton, Philippa" <phlip at morganco.net> wrote:

> Anybody know if there were any melons available in Italy, about 15th to 16th

> centuries? If so, what sort? Am thinking there might have been some

> available fron Spain.

> Phlip


In "The Four Seasons of the House of Cerruti" which

is a reprint of the "Tacuinum Sanitatis in Medicina"

which is a 14th century Italian/Latin health manual,

melons are depicted.  Unfortunately, I don't have

the book in front of me at the moment. (I am at

work.) If you need more specifics, I will post them

here on Monday.





Date: Fri, 26 Feb 1999 21:10:26 EST

From: LrdRas at aol.com

Subject: Re: SC - Melons.


phlip at morganco.net writes:

<< Anybody know if there were any melons available in Italy, about 15th to

16th centuries? If so, what sort? Am thinking there might have been some

available fron Spain.


Phlip >>


Both watermelons and musk melons are period.





Date: Sat, 27 Feb 1999 02:54:34 -0000

From: "=?iso-8859-1?Q?Nanna_R=F6gnvaldard=F3ttir?=" <nannar at isholf.is>

Subject: Re: SC - Melons.


>Anybody know if there were any melons available in Italy, about 15th to 16th

>centuries? If so, what sort? Am thinking there might have been some

>available fron Spain.


As far as I know, melons were rather popular in Italy by the 15th century -

they seem to have disappeared for some time but there is speculation they

were brought back by the Crusaders. Platina has an entry on melons and

suggests it should be eaten at the beginning of the meal, followed by a

drink of good wine. Cantaloupes reached Italy from Armenina sometime in the

15th century and were first cultivated in the papal gardens at Cantalupo

near Rome. Watermelons were also available; not sure about other types.





Date: Sat, 27 Feb 1999 11:56:27 -0000

From: "=?iso-8859-1?Q?Nanna_R=F6gnvaldard=F3ttir?=" <nannar at isholf.is>

Subject: Re: SC - Melons.


From: Alderton, Philippa <phlip at morganco.net>

>Where's the entry in Platina? I'm using him for my main source. Am I missing

>something, are they called by another name?


My source for this is Gastronomy of Italy, by Anna del Conte. She says:


"Platina has a long entry in which he praises the tastiness of the fruit,

but warns against it being "cold and damp" and therefore indigestible. For

this reason he suggests that it should be eaten at the beginning of the meal

and followed by a drink of good wine, this being "an antidote to its rawness

and frigidity.""


Pepone is an alternative Italian name for melon, directly from Latin pepon

(ripe), also the source of English pumpkin.





Date: Sat, 27 Feb 1999 19:03:59 -0000

From: "=?iso-8859-1?Q?Nanna_R=F6gnvaldard=F3ttir?=" <nannar at isholf.is>

Subject: Re: SC - Melons.


>Where's the entry in Platina? I'm using him for my main source.


You might also check his Lives of the Popes - his comments on the demise of

Pope Paul II, admittedly no friend of Platina. The popeĀ“s official cause of

death was listed as "a stroke" - brought on by "eating a surfeit of melons."

Platina told quite another story, IIRC, involving the pointiffs sexual






Date: Fri, 26 Feb 1999 23:49:29 -0800

From: david friedman <ddfr at best.com>

Subject: Re: SC - Melons.


At 5:37 PM -0800 2/26/99, Huette von wrote:

>In "The Four Seasons of the House of Cerruti" which

>is a reprint of the "Tacuinum Sanitatis in Medicina"

>which is a 14th century Italian/Latin health manual,

>melons are depicted.  Unfortunately, I don't have

>the book in front of me at the moment. (I am at

>work.) If you need more specifics, I will post them

>here on Monday.


The fact that something is in Tacuinum Sanitatis doesn't necessarily mean

it was available in 14th c. Italy, since the text is translated (I believe)

from the Arabic original. Some of the illustrations are pretty clearly by

artists who had never seen the originals.


I would check in Platina; I'm almost certain you will find melons.


David Friedman

Professor of Law

Santa Clara University



Date: Sat, 27 Feb 1999 14:58:34 -0500

From: "Daniel Phelps" <phelpsd at gate.net>

Subject: Re: SC - Melons.


Regarding the book referenced [previously] I just happened to have it handy. It

is "The Four Seasons of the House of Cerruti"  Translated by Judith Spencer,

complete revised translation, Facts on File Publications NY, NY, /Bicester,

England copyright 1983 by Arnoldo Mondadori Editore S.p.A.   English

translation 1984  Arnoldo Mondadori Editore S.p.A.   ISBN 0-8160-0138-3


This is a facsimile edition and translation of the 14th century Latin

manuscript known as the Tacuinum Sanitatis in Medicina.

Pages 34 and 35 depict three types of melons listed in the captions as

melon, watermelon and Watermelons from the east.  The first,  Melones

dulces, from the illustration and the test appears to be the elongated

ovidal alternating dark and light green stripped melons with red centers

that are one of the two related types of melons sold as water melons in the



The second, Melones issipidi, appears to the second type of melon sold in

the States as water melons commonly referred to as cannon balls when I was a

child. From the illustration they are round or roundish and about twice the

size of a mans head.  None were cut open in the illustration and the text

does not indicate the color of the flesh inside.  In the illustration they

are dark green with perhaps a hint of thin stripping.   The text repeats the

test for ripeness I heard as a child,  "Always choose really ripe

watermelons, which are recognizable by the sound obtained by tapping the



The third, Molones indi et palestini are slightly smaller in the

illustration than the second and are descriped in the text as being large,

sweet. and yellow.  The text suggests choosing large, very sweet watery

ones. From the illustration they look a lot like cantalopes and it shows

someone sniffing one.


Incidentally it also shows something which they call pumpkins which are

elongated green squashes which have the shape of streached and slightly bent

pears but from the illustration are about the length of a man's arm. They

call it a Cucurbite.  It also shows dark purple aubergines (egeplant) which

they call Melongiana.


Daniel Raoul le Vascon du Navarre'

Shire of Sea March, Kingdom of Trimaris



Date: Sat, 27 Feb 1999 17:13:50 -0500

From: Ian Gourdon <agincort at raex.com>

Subject: SC - Re: Melons 14th Cen


I did a little melon research for an event lunch a while back...


Melon is one of the dishes served in 1443 at the feast given by John

Stafford at his installation as Archbishop of Canterbury.


   page 166 in A Feast of Fruits by Elizabeth Riely NY: MacMillan 1993

"...shows themelon's Near Eastern origin... Via Arabs and Moors the

fruit found its way to Spain... ; There are countless varieties of

melon, Cucumis melo, ... ; These members of the squash, or gourd, family

cross pollinate so promiscuously that farmers know they must plant them

well separated from each other... ; the musk melon ... includes what the

Americans call the cantaloupe...; The Persian melon is another larger

musk melon...; The skin can be ridged in segments, but always has the

characteristic raised netted pattern on the skin."


   page 49 in Food in History by Reay Tannahill NY: Stein & Day 1973

"The (early) people of the Indus valley ate wheat and barley ... and

seasoned it with mustard, or possibly turmeric, or ginger...; Melons and

dates, and perhaps lemons and limes all figured in the diet."


from Plants of the Bible by Harold N. Moldenke Waltham, Mass. Chronica

Botanica Company 1952 " Numbers 11:5 - We remember the fish, which we

did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks,

and the onions, and the garlick."


page 188 in Medieval Culture and Society edited by David Herlihy NY:

Harper and Row 1968 ( RE:Florence in 1336-38): " We have discovered by

the tax at the gates that every year Florence imported upwards of 55,000

cogna of wine...; The city required every year about 400 cows and

calves; 60,000 muttons and sheep; 20,000 she-goats and he-goats; and

30,000 pigs. In the month of July through the gate of San Frediano

there entered 4000 loads of melons, which were all distributed in the


- --

Ian Gourdon of Glen Awe

- - Companion of the order of the Greenwood Company



Date: Tue, 2 Mar 1999 13:40:11 -0000

From: Christina Nevin <cnevin at caci.co.uk>

Subject: SC - Melons, thrushes and periodised lamb


A small addition to Ian Gourdon's list of melon references - Piero Aretino

(the famous Venetian poet and infamous gossip) in a letter of 3rd June 1537

thanking Mssr Francesco Marcolini for gifts of salads and fruits says;

"I can risk a wager against anyone wanting to claim that I was not the first

to see this year's figs, grown in your delightful garden. And I shall also

be the first to taste the pears, the apricots, the melons, the plums, the

grapes and the peaches."


Aretino obviously loved his food and dots wonderful little descriptions

throughout his letters. They're worth browsing for that alone almost

(they're also very witty). My favorite however must be his description of

eating a gift of thrushes;

"They were such that our Mssr Titian <yes, the painter> when he saw them on

the spit and sniffed them with his nose, glanced at the snow which was

falling relentlessly outside while the table was being set, and decided

there and then to disappoint a party of gentlemen who had asked him to

dinner. And altogether we heaped praises upon the long-beaked birds which,

boiled with a little dried meat, a couple of bay leaves and a good

sprinkling of pepper, we ate for the love of you, but also because they

delighted us..."





Date: Tue, 2 Mar 1999 12:15:48 -0800

From: david friedman <ddfr at best.com>

Subject: Re: SC - Melons.


Phlip asks:

>Where's the entry in Platina? I'm using him for my main source.


It is in Platina's Book 1, in the old translation (Falconwood Press

edition) on page 16. It is headed "Longmelons" and mostly concern the

medical qualities of melons and what the ancients had to say about them.


Elizabeth/Betty Cook



Date: Wed, 20 Sep 2000 16:31:07 -0500

From: Jenn/Yana <jdmiller2 at students.wisc.edu>

Subject: Re: SC - pickled melon documentation


Jadwiga wrote:

>The pickled Melon _recipe_ in the Domostroi may be postperiod (I don't

>have my copy with me, but Yana will know) but mentioned of pickled melon

>and other fruit are in the period portion of the Domostroi.


Yep, it is in the "questionable" part of the Domostroi (the Long Version

that has parts that probably come from outside our period).  The melons in

question were likely imported from Azerbaijan or another South Central

Asian country.  For those who are wondering:


(Pouncy:199-200) Watermelons.  Strain watermelon puree through a fine

sieve. Let it ripen in an alkaline solution.  When it is ripe, do not cook

it, but let it purify itself.


Take a watermelon and cut it into layers.  Take out the seeds.  Cut about

two fingers width from the skin, leaving a little of the green flesh.  Peel

off strips a little thicker than paper.  Put the strips in the juice and

let them sit, changing the juice halfway through.  Add honey and cook the

mixture over a slow flame.  Skim off any foam that appears.  When the

mixture is clear and no more foam appears, the syrup is ready.  To the hot

mixture, add spices--pepper, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, mace, or nutmeg--and

simmer it.  Put the syrup in a bowl so it will not burn.  When it is ready,

put watermelon in a lime solution, then cool it will not burn.  When it is

ready, put watermelon pieces in the syrup.


Other people say you should cook the watermelon in a lime solution, then

cool it before adding it to honey cooked with spices.


Melons. Peel melons thinly.  Cut the body of the melon in half, then place

it in an alkaline solution for a day and a night.  Put the pieces in a

spiced syrup like the one used for watermelons and let them sit.  Stir the

pieces, turning them over, from time to time.


Others say that you should leave the melons in the syrup for a while, then

pour it off and replace it, leaving it there for a week altogether.  When

the syrup has evaporated, add honey with spices--pepper, ginger, and cloves.


- --Yana



Date: Tue, 06 Feb 2001 16:40:55

From: "Vincent Cuenca" <bootkiller at hotmail.com>

Subject: SC - Torta de melones


orta de melones


Tomase el melon limpio de la corteza y de la semilla, y que no este muy

maduro, y cortese a bocadillos, y haganse freyr poco a poco con manteca

mezclandolo con la cuchara de contino, saquese y dexese enfriar, y passese

por el colador, y a cada dos libros de melon frito an~adansele seys onzas de

queso de Tronchon or Parmesano y seys onzas de requeson, or queso fresco

bien majado, seys onzas de queso de Pinto mantecoso una onza de canela,

media onza de pimienta, seys onzas de azucar, diez hiemas de hueuos frescos,

o a lo menos seys con las claras, y tengasa la cazuela tortera vntada con

manteca, con vn ojaldre de pasta algo gordo hecho de la flor de la harina,

agua rosada, hiemas de hueuos, manteca de vacas, y sal, y su tortillon

ojaldrado alrededor, y pongase dentro la composicion, y hagase cozer en el

horno con manteca derretida por encima, y en estando casi cozida hagase la

corteza de azucar, y canela, y en estando cozida siruase caliente.  Desta

manera se puede hazer de los duraznos y aluaricoques, y ciruelas mal



Melon Torte


Take melon cleaned of the rind and the seeds, and which should not be very

ripe, and cut it into bite-size pieces, and fry them bit by bit with lard

mixing them with a slotted spoon (?), take them out and let them cool, and

pass them through a strainer, and to each two pounds of fried melon add six

ounces of Tronchon or Parmesan cheese amd six ounces of curds, or well

mashed fresh cheese, six ounces of fatty Pinto cheese one ounce of cinnamon,

half an ounce of pepper, six ounces of sugar, ten fresh egg yolks, or at

least six with the whites, and have the torte pan greased with lard, with a

leaf of somewhat thick dough made with the best flour, rose water, egg

yolks, cow's lard, and salt, and its layered crust all around (?), and put

the mixture in, and let it cook in the oven with melted lard over it, and

when it is almost cooked make the crust with sugar, and cinnamon,* and when

it is cooked serve it hot.  In this way you can make it with peaches and

apricots, and poorly ripened plums.


*This is similar to de Nola's recipe for Torta Genovesa, which instructs the

cook to sprinkle cinnamon and sugar over the torte as it is baking to form a

crisp layer.


Mind you, this is a quick and dirty translation.  I'm totally faking

"cuchara de contino"; could also be "stir continuously with a spoon".    

Sounds yummy, though.  Maybe I'll try this for Queen's Prize next year!  :)





Date: Thu, 22 Jul 2004 17:07:22 -0500

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Watermelon

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


It was probably called melon (Middle English derived from Latin derived from

Greek), a term that covers both Cucumis melo and Citrullus vulgaris (or C.

lanatus, if you choose).


The Cucurbitaceae are more precisely fruit bearing vines rather than

vegetables, although the English word "vegetable" does not make a clear

distinction between the two.  Cucumbers being from genus Cucumis are more

closely related to the other melons.  Pumpkins and squash are in genus

Cucrbita. Other related plants are gourds (Lagenaria) and loofahs  





> This showed up in my mailbox today and thought it might be of interest.

> The last fact makes me wonder what the English called the watermelon

> prior to 1615. Does anyone know?

> Tara

> Fun Facts about Watermelon




Date: Thu, 31 Jul 2008 19:42:27 -0500

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Melons in England

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


The Oxford Companion to Food says melons (Cucumis melo) were introduced into

England in the 16th Century where they were grown "under glass bells, in

greenhouses or 'steam-pits.'"


Melons have been cultivated on and off in southern Europe since Roman times

and were certainly reintroduced into the area by the Arabs.  The first

medieval European reference seems to be Albertus Magnus in the 13th Century.




<<< Anybody have any info on people eating melons in England - whatever

period? Someone suggested that Watermelon & cantaloupe would be good

at my upcoming feast and I think it would go over well. But now I have

to figure out if it is period for the region.


Serena >>>



Date: Thu, 31 Jul 2008 21:47:07 -0400

From: Johnna Holloway <johnnae at mac.com>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Melons in England

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


Artworks include

Cotan's Quince, Cabbage, Melon & Cucumber (1600) Credit: San Diego

Museum of Art                    


Aertsen click on the small painting to enlarge. I think the one is a melon.




Then also take a look at The Four Elements: Earth. A Fruit and Vegetable

Market with the Flight into Egypt in the Background'

*1569 by Joachim Beuckelaer *Sixteen different varieties of vegetable

and fruit have been identified.




Here's instructions for a tart of Roman melons


This is an excerpt from *Ouverture de Cuisine*

(France, 1604 - Daniel Myers, trans.)

The original source can be found at MedievalCookery.com



To make a tart of Roman melons. Take a melon that is not at all

overripe, & wash it well within & without, & finely chop, then take four

ounces of good fat cheese, two ounces of sugar, a quarter ounce of

cinnamon, & a nutmeg, & make the tart like the others, when cooked,

sprinkle sugar thereon, & color with nutmeg.





Date: Mon, 04 Aug 2008 15:55:24 -0400

From: Suey <lordhunt at gmail.com>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Melons in England

To: sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org


Terry Decker wrote:

<<< The Oxford Companion to Food says melons (Cucumis melo) were introduced into England in the 16th Century where they were grown "under glass bells, in greenhouses or 'steam-pits.'"


Melons have been cultivated on and off in southern Europe since Roman times

and were certainly reintroduced into the area by the Arabs.  The first

medieval European reference seems to be Albertus Magnus in the 13th Century.


Bear >>>


L.Cucumis melo, Ar. destbuya or betti-h, Fr. melon, Eng. melon. It is a native of Jordan, which was imported to other countries under Roman domination. In Spain, Arabs introduced it from Egypt around 825 and it was first cultivated in A?over del Tajo, an al-Andalus town, no longer existing, named for a village near Rome. It became a symbol in Muslim Spain for the excellent crops produced there in the Middle Ages. Melon was frequently eaten in Le?n during the 10th C. Villena (15th C)instructs to slice it lengthwise and remove the pits. He says it can be cut horizontally into rounds but it is better lengthwise. It has been said that Holy Roman Emperors Albert, Frederick III and Henry IV of Germany and Pope Paul II died as result of eating too much melon. Avenzoar explains that the melon may experience a noxious transformation generating a humor similar to poison if when eaten this occurs. The meal in the stomach prevents the melon from leaving it. The chances of this happening are less than one in 1,000. Luis Lobera de Avila, court physician of Charles V of Hapsburg wrote in his medical manual of 1530 that melon seeds are humid and were used to reduce fever and to expel kidney stones. [Bolens. 1990:34; ES: Carroll-Mann.Guisados 2-art. Jun 6, 01: ftn 74; ES: Chu. Oct 13, 02; Ibn Zuhr/Garc?a S?nchez. 1992:86-88; S?nchez-Albornoz. 2000:161 and Villena/Calero. 2002:23a:42b]


Villena also mentions watermelon but I have no reference to cantloupe through the 15th C. except for Columbus taking a variety a America (its a wonder his ships ever made it out of Huelva he took so much food) Actually cantaloupe really seems to take off during the 18th C from Italy.




<the end>

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Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org