Chef Greg Baker and Farmer Will Crum brought back a watermelon that thrived in Florida 100 years ago. On Thursday, these two men opened up the first watermelon native to Florida. The watermelon was saved with the help of modern technology. It is the first hybrid watermelon that can withstand pests and other harmful problems that come with the watermelon crop.

Taste of success

The Florida Favorite watermelon went out of interests in the South because it wasn’t sturdy enough to stand up to pests that would affect the watermelon crop after the end of WWI back in 1918.

With the help of some local bees and cross pollination of other watermelon crops, Will Crum was able to make a hybrid Florida Favorite watermelon that can withstand the elements.

The melon weighs about 30 pounds. Farmer Crum held onto the melon as he reached for a knife to cut it open. With just one thrust of the blade, the melon fell apart in his hands. Farmer Crum and Chef Baker then cut smaller portions for themselves to try the succulent melon. The taste was refreshing.

Mommy and daddy melon

Farmer Crum made a hybrid Florida Favorite watermelon with the help of the Bradford watermelon and the Georgia Rattlesnake watermelon. The Georgia Rattlesnake watermelon is the watermelon people know from backyard barbeques.

It’s the melon that kids spit out the black seeds between gaps in their teeth or just because they don’t want a watermelon growing inside their tummy, a theory that has been busted for quite some time. The Rattlesnake part of the watermelon’s name comes from the zig-zag lines that lie on its green skin.

The Bradford watermelon has a more succulent taste similar to cotton candy.

These melons have green skin that have a near invisible stripe pattern that people can’t see. It looks almost like a large green oblong pumpkin than a watermelon. The Bradford watermelon was made in the 1840’s and 1850’s by Farmer Napoleon Bradford in Sumter, South Carolina. It died out because the skin was too fragile for transport leading to many of the melons to break during transfer.

But the Bradford family grew the melons for their own consumptions for generations.

Happy Together

Chef Baker and his partner Michelle opened Fodder and Shine two years ago. The restaurant preserves old recipes during the pioneer days in Florida. The recipes span from the 1820’s to the Great Depression. They met Farmer Crum who was interested in preserving heirloom Florida species and found the Bradford seed with the help of University of South Carolina professor David Shields. Chef Baker hopes to use unveils the Florida Favorite in his restaurant within the following weeks, using everything from the skin to the flesh of the melon in many of the old recipes.