Watermelon Melons

Melons are all "Cucumbers" (Cucurbits or Cucurbitaceae) to the botanist, along with squash, gourds and actual cucumbers. To the agriculturist they are are all "vine crops". All are technically "fruit" but in culinary practice all are treated as "vegetables" except the melons which are treated as fruit.


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General & History

There are two broad categories of melon and one odd one.

  • Muskmelons:   C. Cucumis melo, the same genus as Cucumbers, probably originated in Western Asia (Persia and surrounding). These melons have thick walls and hollow centers containing loose seeds and fibers.
  • Watermelons:   C. Citrullus lanatus, of African origin. These melons have solid, almost uniform flesh all the way through with seeds embedded in the flesh.
  • Horned Melons   C. metuliferus, of African origin and internally built more like a Tindora Gourd than like any of the other melons.

Melons are generally eaten mature when the flesh becomes sweet, which contrasts with gourds, squash and cucumbers which are eaten immature. The rind is tough but not hard and the flesh is always watery. Most are eaten raw but some are cooked, particularly in soup. Most have thick walls and a hollow center containing seeds, but the Watermelons are solid and uniform all the way through with seeds embedded in the flesh. Most melons will store at room temperature maybe a week and not much longer refrigerated, but there are a few, such as the Hami and Christmas melons that will store much longer at room temperature.

Melon Terms

  • Sutures - grooves running from the flower end to the stem end.
  • Netting - a raised pattern of lines in a netlike pattern, generally light tan in color, These are very intense on the familiar muskmelon.
  • Slip - dropping the stem when ripe. A melon that normally slips, such as a muskmelon, that has some stem or tears where the stem was is picked too unripe. Many melon types do not slip so some stem or stem tear is normal for those.
  • Winter melon - commercial term for late maturing varieties, not to be confused with the "Winter Melon" seen (usually cut in large chunks) in most Asian markets, which is actually a gourd.

Varieties

All Melons (with the exception of Watermelons) are of the same species, C. melo, so can be interbred to create new varieties. There are, however, several recognized C. melo varietal groups.

  • Cantalupensis group (now includes Reticulatus) have an often netted rind and aromatic flesh ranging from salmon to orange but sometimes green. These include the muskmelon (called Cantaloupe in the U.S.), true cantaloupes, Persian melons, and others. These melons slip their stems when ripe. Reticulatus designates the netted rind melons as distinct from true cantaloupes which are sutured but not netted.
  • Inodorous group: late-maturing melons called "winter melons" in U.S. agriculture, including crenshaws, casabas, honeydews, Juan Canary, Santa Claus. These melons have non-aromatic flesh usually green or white but sometimes orange. They do not slip their stems when ripe.
  • Flexuosus group: the snake melons, or snake cucumbers (not to be confused with the snake gourds).
  • Conomon group: Oriental pickling melons. Generally smooth, cylindrical, green, white or striped, with white flesh.
  • Dudaim group: mango melon, pomegranate melon, Queen Annes melon. These are small and round to oval, light green, yellow or striped with firm yellowish-white flesh. Not seen in the USA.
  • Mormordica group: phoot and snap melons. The fruit is oval or cylindrical with smooth skin that cracks at maturity. Not seen in the USA.

Afghan Melon   -   [reticulatus group]
Afghan Melon

This melon is similar to the Persian Melon but greener with rather sparser netting. They are only moderately sweet so should be selected with a fair amount of flex at the flower end to assure ripeness. I haven't seen these for awhile, but they're sure to become more common in the future. When the U.S. pulls the troupes out of Afghanistan anyone who cooperated will have to leave the country and they'll head straight for Los Angeles where every other ethnic group has settled. Soon they'll be opening restaurants and demanding Afghan melons in the markets.

Ananas Melon   -   [Middle Eastern melon]
A 3 to 4 pound oval melon with netting similar to a Muskmelon but finer over a pale green to orangish rind. The flesh is usually white but can be pink-orange and is aromatic and very sweet.

Armenian Cucumber   -   [Snake Cucumber / Melon, Uri (Japan), Metki, Mikti (Near East), Wild Cucumber (commercial), Cucumis melo var. flexuosus]
Cucumbers

Market size varies widely from 6 inches long and 1-1/4 inches diameter to 21 inches long and 2-1/2 inches diameter but they can grow to a yard long and over 3 inches in diameter. They are very much like a cucumber in structure and in taste, if raw. The skin is very thin and tender and is almost never peeled. Smaller sizes are often pickled and the resulting pickles have a rather different flavor from cucumber pickles.

Armenian cucumbers are seasonally available fresh in Southern California (May to July) and are grown as a garden vegetable in Florida and other suitable areas, but I understand they're almost impossible to find fresh in Armenia. Pickled they can be found in any market serving a Western Asian or Near Eastern community. They're usually packed in Lebanon or surrounding regions and labeled "Mikti" or "Wild Cucumber". The front photo specimen was 12 inches long (uncut), 2 inches diameter and weighed 14-5/8 ounces. The middle one was 14-1/2 inches long (if straight) 1-3/4 inches diameter and weighed 10-1/8 ounces Details and Cooking.

Bitter Melon
Gourd
It's not a melon, it's a gourd - see Bitter Melon

Canary Melon   -   [Juan Canary, Jaune des Canaries, Amarillo, PLU #4317, C. melo (Indorus group)]
Melon

This bright yellow mellon, oblong and pointy at the ends like an American football, is now grown by the truck load in California. A fully ripe Canary is about as sweet as melons get. The flesh is firm, almost crisp, white to faintly greenish, and light pink or orange around the seed cavity. Select melons that are bright yellow and springy at the flower end but not mushy. This melon is a yellow variety of the Piel de Sapo, a melon popular in Spain. The photo specimen was 9 inches long, 6 inches diameter and weighed 5 pounds 7 ounces.

Cantaline   -   [Orange Flesh Melon, Kandy Melon, PLU #4327]
Cantaline

This cross between a cantaloupe and a honeydew has been grown more in South America than in North America, but is becoming more available here. It's marketed as "Orange Flesh Melon" and "Kandy Melon". The flesh tastes similar to cantaloupe, is firm, almost crisp, and quite sweet right to the thin rind. The rind is smooth with some scattered netting and when ripe becomes quite pale, sometimes almost white. Also look for some springiness at the flower end. The photo specimen was 6 inches diameter and weighed 3 pound 13 ounces.

Cantaloupe   -   True
Cantaloupe

The true Cantaloupe is seldom grown outside southern Europe, mostly Italy. Unlike the Muskmelon the skin is hard, deeply grooved, warty and lacks the orderly netting of the Muskmelons. See Dulcinea "Tuscan Style" Cantaloupe and Muskmelon for melons available in North America.

Cantaloupe - Muskmelon   -   [var reticulatus]
Muskmelon

The common market "Cantaloupe" in the U.S. is actually a Muskmelon, not a True Cantaloupe. I realize the entire fruit and grocery industries go along with calling it "cantaloupe", but I'm going to call it a Muskmelon anyway - and besides, that's what my Connecticut based family called it when I was a child.

Cantaloupe - Athena
A preferred Muskmelon for growing in the Eastern U.S. because they mature early, this oval melon has coarse netting over a yellow-orange rind and is usually lightly sutured. The flesh of this 5 to 6 pound melon is yellow-orange and firm.

Cantaloupe - "Tuscan Style"   -   [reticulatus group]
Melon

A specialty of Dulcinea Farms in California - it is, of course, a Muskmelon, not a true Cantaloupe.

Casaba Melon   -   [PLU #4320, C. melo (Inodorus group)]
Melon

This fairly large mellon (4 to 10 pounds) has a wrinkly skin and is usually flat at the flower end and with a point where the stem attaches. The white to slightly yellow flesh has little flavor and is only lightly sweet when the melon is fully ripe. It ripens unevenly, very soft near the seeds and still rather firm near the rind. Personally, I don't see the point of this melon since sweeter, more flavorful melons are available at the same price per pound.

Casabas are ripe when the flower end has plenty of give but is still springy. This melon has no odor so that isn't an indicator of ripeness, and it does not slip when ripe so stems or stem tears are not an indicator it was picked too soon. The photo specimen was 8-1/2 inches diameter, 7-1/2 inches long and weighed 9 pounds 3 ounces. The Casaba melons originated in western Asia and in the U.S. is grown mainly in California.

Cavaillon Melon
Cavalon

A French variety of the True Cantaloupe from the town of Cavaillon. It is considered very highly for flavor and is now grown in various places around the world including the USA. Some are grown in California but I have yet to see them in the markets - they probably all go to the fancy chef set. The flesh is a light orange and they are said to be ripe when a small crack appears at the stem end.

Cavion Melon
A small globe shaped European melon with gray-green netted rind and very shallow dark green sutures. The flesh is intensely orange and fragrant.

Charentais Melon   -   [French Breakfast Melon, Chaca, Italian Melon, French Kiss (marketing); Hakucho (Japan); Cantalupensis group]
Whole and cut melon

This is a small European melon, globe shaped with a smooth to slightly netted gray, gray-blue or yellow-green rind with distinct but shallow sutures. Flesh color ranges from greenish to intense orange depending on cultivar. Some sources say if the color of the rind becomes yellowish they are over-ripe, but, again, that seems to vary with cultivar - these were just about perfect.as shown.

This is an aromatic melon with flesh that's exceptionally sweet right out to the very thin rind. Flavor is quite attactive and somewhat lighter than cantaloupe. This is the favorite melon of the French, who commonly use it as a breakfast melon. Cut in half it will serve two. They also split them in half, scoop them out and fill with a sweet wine such as Marsala or Madeira to serve as an appetizer. The larger of the photo specimens (the cut one) was 5 inches diameter and 2 pounds 3-1/4 ounces.

Christmas Melon   -   [Santa Claus, Inodorus group]
Christmas Melon

These 5 to 8 pound football (US) shaped melons have a mottled yellow or green rind and pale green or pale orange flesh depending on variety. The photo specimen was 8-3/4 inches long, 6 inches diameter and weighed 5 pounds. They are very sweet when ripe and are similar to Piel de Sapo with some varieties looking very much like that melon but others are smoother and some have a little or a lot of netting as in the photo. These melons get the name Christmas or Santa Claus from their late season harvest excellent keeping properties - even to Christmas if stored in a cool place.

Citron Melon   -   [Pie melon (U.S.), Tsanna Citrullus lanatus var. citroides]
Citron Melon

This melon is thought to be ancestral to the Watermelon and originated in Africa. It now grows wild in Baja California though no one knows how it got there. It is also both cultivated and considered a weed in much of the Southern U.S. though rarely in pure form there due to accidental cross breeding with commercial watermelons.

This melon is not to be confused with the citrus fruit Citron, though they are both used mainly candied or as preserves and pickles. Citron melon is very high in pectin so is a desirable ingredient for preserves. The flesh is much stiffer and more strongly flavored than that of watermelon. Details & Cooking.
Photo by Kazvorpal distributed under GNU Free Documentation License version 1.2 or later.

Collective Farm Woman Melon

Melons A Ukraine melon, spherical, 7 to 10 inches in diameter with smooth skin. It is ripe when the skin turns from dark green to light orange. The flesh is light yellow-green getting darker near the rind and is very sweet and aromatic. This is an early ripening variety that can be grown as far north as Moscow. Some are now grown in North America but not yet on a commercial scale.   Photo copyright unknown - but it's splashed all over the Internet.

Crenshaw Melon   -   [Cranshaw, C. melo (Inodorus group)]
Melon

This is a hybrid between the Casaba and Persian melons that weighs in at 5 pounds or higher. It is a bit flattened at the stem end giving it an acorn shape. The skin, though still wrinkly is a bit smoother than the Casaba. Yellow when ripe, older varieties have green flesh and newer ones have salmon pink flesh.

Galia Melon
Whole Mellon

An Israeli melon with a netted rind similar to a Muskmelon but paler in color and not as distinctly netted. It is a cross of Cantaloupe and Honeydew. The flesh is pale green to white, similar to a Honeydew, and has a banana like aroma. These slip their stems when ripe so any stem or stem tears indicate picking before fully ripe. They are now common in Southern California, grown here, in the U.S. South and in South and Central America.

Gaya Melon There are several varieties of Gaya mellon, so different from each other you would wonder why they have the same name. The two here are the most available, and both are most likely to be found in Asian markets.


Ivory Gaya Melon
Ivory Gaya Melon

Originally from Japan, this melon is now grown in Mexico and South America, but the photo specimen was procured at a Los Angeles farmer's market from a Japanese grower who described it only as "Japanese Melon". I have recently seen it in one of the larger Asian markets in Los Angeles. It has excellent keeping properties (these melons sat around on my kitchen floor for nearly 2 months before I got around to photographing them). The rind is very thin, the flesh is crisp and moderately sweet and the stems were not slipped.

Chamelon Gaya Melon
Chamelon Gaya Melon

On the outside this mellon looks a lot like a Piel de Sapo but inside it's different. In the center the flesh is light orange shading to white, then green as it gets closer to the hard but very thin rind. It's said to taste like pears and bananas, but I think its soft flesh tastes like an extremely sweet melon. It is ripe when it has some give at the flower end. The photo specimen, purchased from an Asian market in Los Angeles marked as "Green Melon", weighted 2 pounds 6 ounces and was 6-1/4 inches long and 4-1/4 inches diameter. The stems do not slip.


Gallicum - see Ogen Melon.

Green Melon
Green Melon I'm still working to get a positive identification for these miniature melons. I have obtained them from Asian markets in Los Angeles in early July, sold as "Green Melon". So far the best match I've got is "Asian Green Melon" from a seed company for a melon it reports is used for cooking in various ways. The largest of the photo specimens weighed 1 pound 6 ounces, 4 inches diameter and 4.5 inches long. Most are smaller.

These were sold not quite ripe with crisp, moderately sweet flesh, as would be expected for a pickling melon. The flesh becomes soft and almost crumbly when fully ripe, with just a touch of crispness near the peel. Even fully ripe the flesh is only moderately sweet and the flavor is a bit bland.

Hami Melon   -   [reticulatus group]
This type of "Chinese muskmelon" originated around Hami in the Uighur lands of Central Asia now claimed by China as Xinjiang Uygur A. R. provence. Several varieties are now grown in California and Oregon as well as in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and other adjacent Central Asian countries.

They are generally football (US) shaped with a yellow-green lightly to only vaguely netted rind and orange, salmon, white or green flesh. The flesh is distinguished by being fairly crisp, even brittle, and most are just medium sweet. The flesh freezes well so they are good for frozen deserts. Hamis keep well and will store for a couple of weeks or more at a cool room temperature.


Hami Melon - Oval   -   [PLU #4332]
Hami Melon

This is the Hami melon most common in Southern California markets. They can grow to as much as 11 pounds but the photo specimen was 7 pounds 3 ounces, a bit above average, and was purchased in mid July. The rind is yellow-green and lightly netted. The flesh may be orange, salmon, white or green depending on variety. It is crisp and light, almost airy, with medium sweetness and medium melon flavor.

To be sweet these melons need to be very ripe, so select ones that have a fair amount of give at the flower end (but no sign of rot). They will ripen more if left sitting on the kitchen floor, but it's a long lasting melon so it'll take time. These melons do not slip their stems.

Hami Melon - New Century   -   [Uzbek Hami Melon]
Hami Melon

This Hami melon started to appear in quantity in Southern California markets in July 2008. The photo specimen is typical at 8-1/2 inches long, 5-1/2 inches in diameter and 4-1/8 pounds with very lightly sutured smooth green skin. The medium sweet flesh is light orange and has the typical Hami crispness. Select melons that have a fair amount of give at the flower end (but no sign of rot). These melons do not slip their stems.

Hami Melon - Round   -   [reticulatus group]
A globe shaped melon with a white or light yellow smooth rind and light orange to pink flesh. The flesh is crisp as with oval Hami melons and they can grow to about 12 pounds but more often are around 5 pounds. I have not seen any in Southern California.


Honeydew Melons
In simpler days there was only one, the one called just plain "Honeydew", but now there are several.


Honeydew Melon
Melon

A round melon with an almost white rind which may be slightly green or slightly yellow. The flesh may be white, pale green or pale orange, firm and similar to the Muskmelon, but sweeter and with a milder flavor. See also Golden Honeydew for a related variety.

Golden Honeydew
Melon

A yellow version of the Honeydew. The one in the photo weighs 6 pounds and is 8 inches long. The flesh is white and quite sweet even when still a little crisp.

Orange-Flesh Honeydew   -   [Temptation Melon]
Actually this is a Muskmelon but has the appearance and size of a white honeydew melon. The flesh is medium orange turning green towards the rind. It is ripe when the rind starts to take on an orange tint. The flesh is similar to other Muskmelons but a little more delicate and honeydew like.


Japanese Melon   -   [ reticulatus group]
Japan Melon

A round to slightly oval melon with strong netting on a green rind. They are generally 3 to 4 pounds with very sweet white to green flesh. In Japan these are very expensive "gift melons" selling for around US $100 each. They are hothouse grown with controled heat to assure highest possible sweetness, and then expensively packaged. These melons don't slip, but stem tears would be unthinkable, so they are normally sold with a piece of the vine still attached. Young melons are sometimes scratched to produce scars if the netting pattern needs a little filling out. In California these melons could be field grown, but nobody seems to bother.   Photo by Bobak Ha'Eri distributed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5.

Kiwano   -   [#4302, Horned Melon, Melano, Horned Cucumber, Jelly melon, English tomato, Metulon (France), Cucumis metuliferus]
Kiwano

This odd African melon is grown in the Kenya, Israel, New Zealand and the U.S. as a decorative fruit and in Australia as a noxious weed. Now grown commercially in California they have a long shelf life and are easily shipped so you will find a few in supermarkets but often at prices that will leave you gasping. The photo specimen was 4-3/4 inches long, 2.8 inches diameter and weighed 11-3/4 ounces, from a small chain supermarket for $2.99 each or $4.07 / pound. Major supermarkets may charge as much as $4.99 per melon.

They are sold mainly as a curiosity and are not expected to be a viable food crop until varieties with a higher sugar content are developed. Currently they have a light refreshing flavor but are not real sweet. It's the seed mass you eat as there is very little edible flesh inside the hard rind. Note: seed merchants are also selling purely decorative varieties which look about the same but are very toxic. You won't eat those by accident because the toxin is extremely bitter. Details and Cooking

Korean Melon   -   [Yellow melon, Oriental melon; Yeoncheon, Dua Gan, Cha Mae, Chamoe (Korean)]
Oriental Melon

A small pale yellow melon with shallow white sutures commonly found in Chinese and Korean groceries. It's moderately sweet white to pale peach flesh. The rind is very thin and the seeds very small, so they can be eaten without peeling or seeding. The photo specimen was typical at 1 pound 4 ounces, 5.25 inches long, 3.63 inches diameter and was clearly purchased from a Chinese / Southeast Asian market - the Koreans have little more tolerance for skin blemishes than the Japanese do. This is a perishable melon and should be eaten within 5 days of purchase. I have read one reference that says it's actually a gourd, but I'm not moving it to gourds until I get a good confirmation.

Korean Melon   -   [Hybrid Golden Honey]
Melon

A hybrid recently developed in Korea, this ia a round to slightly oval smooth yellow skinned melon often found in Korean markets. These are "gift melons", carefully grown to be blemish free and even in California sell for around $2/pound when in season. The photo example weighed 2-1/4 pounds. The stem does not slip so some stem is included (a stem tear would be an unacceptable blemish). The flesh is a very pale yellow-orange to white, fairly crisp and quite sweet. They are ripe when there is some springiness at the flower end. See also the sutured Korean Melon, also commonly found in Korean markets.

Mediterranean Melon
An oval melon with a slightly netted sutureless rind which ripens to yellow-gold with green splotches. The soft flesh is white with a touch of pink at the seed cavity.

Muskmelons   -   [Cantaloupe (North America), reticulatus group]
The Muskmelon is the "Cantaloupe" of North America as distinct from the True Cantaloupe of Europe. Until recently it was the only kind of cantaloupe you could buy in North America, but melon growers in California and Arizona seem determined to grow every melon known to man, so European cantaloupes are now available.


Muskmelon, Eastern   -   [reticulatus group]
Muskmelon

A round melon that is little seen outside the growing area in eastern North America because it doesn't ship well. Unlike the common Western Muskmelon these have both netting and sutures. The flesh is orange (some green fleshed varieties are grown) and they have a distinctive aroma when fully ripe. These slip, so a stem or tears in the fruit where the stem was indicate it was picked unripe and will have inferior flavor.

Muskmelon, Western   -   [Cantaloupe, PLU #4050, reticulatus group]
Muskmelon

This round melon is commonly called "Cantaloupe" in the U.S., but is not a True Cantaloupe. These melons have very dense netting and no sutures, orange flesh, a distinct aroma when fully ripe and the familiar muskmelon flavor. The flesh is quite firm even when fully ripe, the rind is strong and they keep a couple of weeks making them the preferred muskmelon for U.S. commerce. These slip, so the stem scar should be deep and smooth at the bottom with no stem fragments or tears, which would indicate it was picked unripe and will have inferior flavor.

The photo specimen was near the large end of the range, 7-1/2 inches long, 6-3/4 inches diameter and weighing 5 pounds 6 ounces.

"Tuscan Style Cantaloupe"   -   [reticulatus group]
Ripe Melon and Slice

This melon is a specialty of Dulcinea Farms, a large melon grower in California. It is deeply sutured like an Eastern Muskmelon, but has the fine mesh pattern and excellent shipping properties of a Western Muskmelon. The Tuscan is a beautiful melon to look at - right up to the point when it is fully ripe - then it becomes as grungy as shown the photo.

The photo specimen weighed just over 6 pounds and was 8 inches long and 6-1/2 inches in diameter. It was eaten the day after this photo was taken and was perfectly ripe and delicious. For how they look in the store see Details and Cooking.


Ogen Melon   -   [Gallicum]
A round, 3 to 5 lb melon with netted and sutureless rind which turns golden yellow when mature. It is grown primarily in Israel. The flesh is green and highly aromatic. This melon slips its stem when ripe so there should be no stems or stem tears.

Orange Flesh Melon   -   see Cantaline Melon.

Papaya Melon
Whole Melon This melon, is popular in Asia. I found the photo specimens at a large farmer's market in Pasadena, California at the absurd price of US $1.69 / pound (fortunately they are small). I also found a Web page describing this melon (with photo) from Singapore. They're a bit more expensive there at S$25 (US $17). The melon shown appeared substantially smaller than mine, so that'd probably be about US $17 per pound.

Of course in Asia these melons are very carefully grown to make sure appearance is perfect, because the two most potent flavor enhancements used in Asia are perfect appearance and an absurdly high price. The photo specimen was 5-3/4 inches long, 4 inches diameter and 1 pound 9-3/4 ounces.

Pepino Melon
Pepino Not a melon but a nightshade berry related to the tomato. See Pepino

Persian Melon   -   [Reticulatus group]
Whole Melon

Similar in appearance to a Muskmelon but larger (generally around 5 pounds) with sparser netting over a greener background. There are also more spherical varieties but the elongated variety is the one most grown and sold in Southern California. The pink-orange flesh is somewhat milder than Muskmelon. Unlike Muskmelons the Persian does not slip it's stem when ripe, so a bit of stem or stem tears do not mean it was picked too green.

Piel de Sapo   -   [Toad Skin Melon, C. melo (Indorus group)]
Melon

The name, literally "toad skin", describes the green and yellow blotched coloration and bumpy texture of these melons. They may be lightly and randomly sutured - or not. It is a very popular melon in Spain and grown in Central and South America for export to Spain in the off season, but is only just beginning to appear in other European markets. Some are now grown in Arizona, Colorado and California but they are not yet common here. Similar Spanish melons are the Rochet and Tendral, while this general type of melon is represented in North America more by a yellow version, the Canary Melon and by the late season Christmas Melon.

The photo specimen was 8 inches long, 5 inches diameter and weighed 4 pounds 7-3/4 ounces. The flesh is firm and fairly sweet, shading from green at the rind to slightly orange near the seeds. The rind is about 1/4 inch thick, and the seed cavity is small but packed tightly with seeds. These are long lived melons - both the whole and cut ones sat on my kitchen floor for about 2 months without any sign of degradation.

Red Moon Melon
A cross between a French melon and the Western Muskmelon. It looks a lot like the Tuscan Cantaloupe except smoother and with much shallower sutures. It is sweeter than a regular Muskmelon.

Rochet
An oval melon with a green to greenish-yellow lightly netted rind and greenish white flesh. See Christmas Melon for a melon of this type.

Santa Claus Melon - see Christmas Melon.

Sharlynne Melon   -   [PLU #4338]
Melon

In appearance it looks like an elongated orange musk melon but the flesh inside is light yellow-green and tastes more like a bland but fairly sweet honeydew. The flesh ranges from very soft in the center to firm at the rind. They are ripe when the background color turns from green to light orange and there is some give at the flower end. Also check the stem end because that's where they often start to rot. They are extremely perishable keeping for only a few days once ripe. The seed mass of a ripe melon is often completely liquid and can be poured out. The photo specimen was 4 pounds 5 ounces, 8 inches long and 5-1/2 inches diameter - a bit more elongated than most.

Sugar Kiss Melon    
Whole and Cut Melon

This is a new, proprietary variety of melon. The photo example was 5 inches diameter and weighed 2 pounds 4-1/4 ounces. It is a cross between Galia and Charentias melons, with faintly greenish color, faint netting and very faint sutures. This melon has soft, deep orange flesh which tastes pretty much like sugar water. The melon flavor is as faint as the netting and sutures. This is typical of what melon growers are doing. Their industrial farming methods don't produce flavorful melons, so they keep increasing the sugar content in hopes nobody will notice. This melon is ready to eat when the flower end has an obvious amount of give under moderate pressure.


Sprite Melon
Melon Developed in Japan, this is a small, almost spherical melon that turns from cream color to white with yellow blotches when ripe. It may also have some tan tracery which is said to indicate a high sugar content. It is about the of a grapefruit, weighing between 1 and 1.5 pounds, with white flesh that's crisp, juicy and very sweet. It's said to taste similar to a combination of honeydew, pear and watermelon, but sweeter than any of those. They are perishable but can be kept refrigerated up to a week. Some are grown in North Carolina, California and Arizona, with availability from May to July.     Photo by Night Ranger distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike v3.0.

Vietnamese Melon
Melon

These melons have started to appear in Los Angeles markets serving a heavily Vietnamese community. They vary quite a lot in pattern and coloration but all are quite cylindrical and lightly sutured. The photo specimen was purchased in mid July from the Hawaii Supermarket in Alhambra. It weighed just under 4 pounds 5 ounces and was 8-1/2 inches long and 4-1/2 inches diameter. This appears to be a cooking melon. Fully ripe the flesh was still firm and not very sweet, but it did have a light but interesting flavor and stayed firm enough for soup when simmered.

Watermelon   -   [Citrullus lanatus]
Melon

Watermelons originated in southern Africa but were already grown as a crop in Egypt 5000 years ago and are now planted throughout the world. China got them in the 10th century CE and is now the largest producer. They were brought to North America in the 16th century where California, Georgia, Arizona and Texas are the major producers.

Watermelon fruit is unlike the Cucumus melons of Western Asia in that they are not hollow in the center but have a uniform pulp throughout. Many sizes have been developed (the examples here are 22 pounds for the large and 3-3/4 pounds for the small) and a number of colors. Yellow and white are fine for decorative accents, but as usual I recommend the standard red color as the best tasting,

Seedless Watermelons are not actually without seeds, but the seeds are all or mostly immature, white and very soft when the melon is ripe. Making a seedless watermelon is quit a feat of genetic engineering, but personally I don't see the point - I've always just swallowed the seeds anyway so they don't bother me. I find the standard watermelon to have better flavor and texture than the manipulated ones.

The ancestral Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus var citroides), known as the Citron Melon, is still extant and is now wild in Southern and Baja California, though nobody knows how it got there. The white flesh is so firm it's sort of "rind all the way through" but its high pectin content makes it popular for preserves. Details and Cooking.

Winter Melon
Ash Gourd

Not a melon - see Ash Gourd.

Health & Nutrition

Melons are non-toxic, non-fat and low in calories, but due to their very high water content they have modest nutritional value. Orange fleshed melons are fairly high in vitamin A, some rating even USDA "Excellent Source", and also foliate and potassium. Green or white fleshed melons provide little but potassium.

Melons need almost no digestion. Eaten on an empty stomach they will go on through immediately. On two occasions, to test reports that scientists had found a Viagra-like substance in watermelon, I ate an entire 12 pound watermelon in one sitting. This is not difficult for me because once I start on a watermelon I just can't stop. I'll eat until I'm in pain, then lie down until I can eat more.

No Viagra-like effect whatever was observed (and in one case I ate the rind out to the peel in case it was there), but It did sweep my guts absolutely bright sparkling clean.

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