A member of the gourd family, melons are hard-skinned, round to oblong shaped fruits. Their flesh is flavorful and juicy containing large seeds.
There is a wide variety to choose from, some of the more common varieties include:
Cantaloupe: a small, round fragrant fruit with a rough surface that looks like netting. The flesh is orange colored and tastes sweet and juicy. The cantaloupe season runs from June through November.
Casaba: this fruit has a pointed tip and a round bottom with skin color ranging from yellow to light green. It is a “winter” melon with slightly wrinkled skin and flesh that is green in color with a juicy and very slightly sweet taste. The peak harvest time for casabas is late autumn.
Crenshaw: this variety is a cross between a Casaba and a Cantaloupe with dark green skin that will turn yellow as it ripens. It has a spicy and sweet aroma with pinkish colored flesh that is extra sweet and juicy. The crenshaw is available from July through October.
Honeydew: is a medium-sized round fruit with finely ribbed skin. It is considered to be a “winter” melon and will continue to ripen even after being picked. The peak harvest time for honeydew is late autumn.
Watermelon: available in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colors, the most common is the elongated oval shape with a green rind and striped pattern. They have black seeds, unless they are the seedless variety, with flesh that is sweet and juicy and ranges in color from a deep pink to red. The season for this variety runs from May through September.
When selecting, some general rules of thumb are: choose fruit that has a sweet smell and gives to gentle pressure at the stem end. Whole melons generally have a better flavor than those that are cut up. Precut melons, especially watermelons, should be firm to hold their shape.
For Cantaloupe, there should be a smooth indentation at the stem end. If it is rough or jagged the melon has probably been picked too soon. Choose fruit that is heavy for its size, has a nice fruity aroma and shows a well-raised netting pattern over the rind.
For Casaba, the rind should be even colored over the entire fruit.
For Crenshaw, the stem end should be green. The melon should give to light pressure and spring back after it has been pressed. The rind should be a golden yellow and the fruit should have a nice spicy aroma.
With all melons, avoid fruit that has lumps or soft spots, these are signs of overripe fruit. You also do not want fruit that is lopsided in shape or is rock hard. Melons should be firm and sound hollow.
Storing and Handling:
Uncut, whole melons can be stored at room temperature until ripe and then placed in the refrigerator for up to approximately five days.
Cut up melon should be tightly wrapped with plastic and stored in the refrigerator for approximately three days.
Cut melon in half, scoop out the seeds and cut the skin away. Cut melon into slices, balls, wedges or cubes.
In the case of watermelon, cut in half and quarter if needed, then cut as desired and remove the seeds and rind.
Salads: cut fruit as desired and add to either fruit or vegetable salads.
Dessert: a quick dessert can be made by combining melon with vanilla ice cream or even yogurt for a light and refreshing treat.
Seasonings and Foods to use: cheese (blue, cottage, goat or feta), lemon, lime, vanilla ice cream, prosciutto, yogurt
Quick Salad – Melon Recipes:
Melon Salad with Prosciutto
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