Uzbek Melons

The Uzbek melon. Sorts of melons in Uzbekistan and their positive effects on health


Do you love melons as much as all the rulers of the East loved them since B.C.? In Central Asia they say: "Melon makes cheeks ruddy, teeth stronger, hair silkier, and eyes younger!" There is an anecdote, that in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, melon is loved like a woman; in Turkmenistan - respected as a president.

Uzbek melonsAlong with astounding fragrance and sweetness the melon boasts a rich set of useful qualities. One of the most important is the ability to induce endorphins, which makes it a good remedy for depression and spleen. The useful substances in the plant have a pronounced toning effect, and vitamin C reinforces the immune system. Rich in iron salts melon is good for treating anemia and various heart diseases. A high content of silicon in this paradise fruit is inspiring for women. This element is very important for the hair and skin health, which makes melon the number one cosmetic from all the foods. The melon ability to improve skin, hair and nerves was noted back in antiquity, at the same time with the fact that melon seeds benefice male strength was noted. In addition, the melon is rich in fiber, so it can be used for detox.

Despite the low calorie content melon can serve as an independent dish. Even nowadays a dekhkanin's (local for «farmer») lunch can consist of several wonderfully smelling slices and flat bread. It may seem not enough, but on a hot summer day, when usual food gets stuck in throat, melon and flat bread  for a dinner satisfy hunger remarkably, as well as invigorate, strengthen for further activity and drive away laziness. Chilled melon helps to cope with superheating. This is really important while working in the sun, where the thermometer's rises up to sixty degrees Celsius.

Uzbek melonsThe history of cultivating melons on the territory of Uzbekistan goes back hundreds of years. Both written sources and archeological sites prove it. Seeds of melon cultigen found during excavations of Toprak-kala site (I-IV century AD). It is certain that back then melons were already exported to China, Iran and India.

To present day local melons’ aroma and taste continue to fascinate those who try them.

The climatic conditions of Uzbekistan are ideal for cultivating these paradise fruits - as they also called the melon in antiquity. They are the reason why we have a huge number of melon breeds that differ both in look and taste. Even a small change in the sunny days’ number can lead to poor harvests, so the breeding does not stop. To this day Uzbekistan has grown more than 160 varieties of melons.

In ancient times farmers independently created the necessary conditions for changing varieties. The fact that they realized the importance of these works is evidenced by the preserved custom of the of «Kovun Sayli» («Melon Festival») celebration organized by dehkans on the occasion of the melon harvesting. On that day farmers publicly presented the most outstanding melon samples grown this year. The festival usually had traditional dances and national games.

Uzbek melonsHowever the meaning of this tradition was about the experience and know-hows exchange - seeds used to spread throughout the region so they accommodate to fit a different temperature and humidity. Festival usually took place in September, but could be held earlier, depending on what the summer was like, and when melons gained maximum of their taste.

Up to now there are six main areas of melon breeding in Uzbekistan: Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara, Khorezm, Fergana and South zones. Each has varieties of breeds based on time of maturation.

The Khorezm zone became famous as one of the most ancient regions, where a significant part of all the known varieties of melons is grown. The winter breeds, such as Ala-Khamma, Ak-Kosh, Almurty Gulyabi, Shakar-para, etc., brought a special attention to the region. The local Ak-Novvat Khorezm, Torlam and Gokcha summer breeds are also very rich and juicy. In the XIV century A.D. arabian traveler Ibn Batuta admiringly wrote about the Khorezm melons: "As in the East and in the West, there are no melons like Khorezm. It is cut into pieces, dried in the sun, put into baskets and taken to the distant cities of China and India. Among all the dried fruits there is no better".

In the Ferghana region it is possible to grow all varieties melons, beginning with the early Ak Khandalyak and ending with the late Sertur.

The Bukhara and Samarkand zones also differ. There is Obinovvat and Buri kalya kurt - those of gentle taste and pulp, and Alacha and Rohat - crunchy, melting.  The Tashkent zone is famous for its early-ripe Khandalyak, Kokcha, Ak-kalya posh; soft Daniyari, Gurbek, Chillaki and Boswaldy that have a gentle pulp and are good in the middle summer; Ak Kaun Tashkent, Bekzodi, Gul-Kun, Barginazi, Davletbai and Ak-par, also ripping up in summer, but a bit harder; autumn-winter varieties Asma, Bezhir, Guliabi orange, Guliabi greenish, Sary Guliabi, Kyrkma and Tosh kaun.

Uzbek melonsThe Southern zone of melon breeding, though it boasts melon diversity, grows mainly imported breeds Kara-kashka, Buri-kalla and Gulyabi Samarkand. Local types are few. They are Datbedi, Khandalyak yellow local and Ala-puchack.

Certainly such a huge number of varieties required a special classification. As a result, scientists divide all melon breeds into two subspecies: Central Asia and Asia Minor. Each, in turn, is divided by the type of maturation.

The Central Asian subspecies, most common in Uzbekistan, include Khandalyak - spring melons of small size. It is grown in smaller quantities than other types, since it is low-yielding and hard to transport.  Early soft-pulpy melons are more popular. They appeal with delicate juicy pulp, but still do not sustain long haul. The summer firm-pulpy melons are easier to transport, and their fragrant crispy pulp has no less fans than Khandalyak and summer soft-pulpy melons. The autumn and winter melon breeds are those who brought glory to the melons of Uzbekistan. They survive long haul without damage and stored for a long time.  Notable, these types are also in demand among locals who construct special kovunkhona for their storage. It is a mistake to think that melons can only be stored raw. For hundreds of years drying has also been practiced. It allows to keep the useful properties of the melon, as the taste, although it changes, still has the full sweetness of the ripe melon.  As we mention above, very few varieties of melons can be tried abroad, while in Uzbekistan, moving from region to region you can drink honey-sweet juice of the rarest melons! Plan your trip to Uzbekistan in August-September.


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