Although cantaloupe, watermelon, and honeydew are the best-known melons, your supermarket or local farmer’s market may have other varieties for sale.
- Ananas: This muskmelon variety was grown by Thomas Jefferson. It has an oval shape, a yellow to tan skin, with sandy-hued reticulation (netting) that becomes more prominent as the melon ripens. The flesh color varies from creamy white or whitish green pale orange. It is quite juicy, and surrounds a rather narrow seed cavity. When ripe and at room temperature, it will have a sweet melon flavor with a mild pineapple aroma. (“Ananas” means pineapple in French and a number other European languages.) The melon originated in Africa and was brought to France in 1777.In France it is known as “MelonAnanas d’Amerique à Chair Verte” which means American green-fleshed pineapple melon. Ananas was one of the melon varieties used in mapping the melon genome.
- Camouflage (Frog Skin Melon): This melon has a colorful, patterned skin. Its flesh is similar to that of honeydew.
- Cantaloupe: The cantaloupe is actually a muskmelon, and it has become the most popular melon sold in the U.S. The cantaloupe is fragrant and sweet when ripe. It is also an excellent source of beta carotene and vitamin C.
- Casaba: Pale yellow when ripe, this large muskmelon variety has deep wrinkles that gather at the stem end. The flesh is white and sweet. Skin color is the best clue to ripeness when choosing a whole casaba. Unlike most other melons, it has no aroma and so is less flavorful, but it keeps longer.
- Charentais: This French melon, a type of European cantaloupe, has orange flesh and a smooth gray-green skin with green stripes running from stem to blossom end.
- Crenshaw: A cross between a casaba and a Persian melon, the oblong crenshaw—which can weigh up to 10 pounds—has a buttercup-yellow rind and dense salmon-colored flesh. The flavor is both sweet and spicy.
- European Cantaloupe: This melon variety was originally domesticated in Cantalupo, Italy in the 1700s. It typically has smooth, pale gray-green skin with somewhat darker green “ribs” (stripes). Although it is not a true muskmelon like its North American counterpart, the orange, aromatic, flavorful flesh inside is quite similar.
- Galia: This is a cross between a honeydew and a cantaloupe. The skin is netted like a cantaloupe, but the flesh is green, like a honeydew. It was developed in Israel by Dr. Zvi Karchi and named after his daughter.“Galia” means “God’s wave” in Hebrew.
- Honeydew: Known outside of North America as White Antibes or Bailan, this large muskmelon—averaging 5 to 6 pounds—has a creamy-white or yellow-green rind that ripens to creamy-yellow. The flesh is pale green, although there is a variety of honeydew that has orange flesh and a salmon-colored rind. A ripe honeydew is the sweetest of all the melons.
- Horned Melon: These spiked melons have a bright orange to golden-yellow skin and a jellylike flesh, which is why they are also called “jelly melons.” They are occasionally marketed askiwanos, which is actually a registered trademark of the horned melons grown in New Zealand. The flavor is only vaguely sweet with a hint of cucumber. The horned melon is actually one of those members of the squash/melon family whose flavor falls somewhere between sweet fruit and savory vegetable.
- Canary: As the name suggests, the skin of this melon is canary-yellow when the melon is ripe. It is oblong in shape and has white flesh sometimes tinged with pink around the seed cavity. The flesh looks like that of a pear but the taste is a little bit like acantaloupe’s. It is often marketed as “Juan Canary melon.”
- Korean Melon: Also called “camoe” (Korean for “high quality cucumber”)these oblong melons look like small spaghetti squash.Only about four inches long, the yellow skin has white stripes that run the length of the fruit. They have firm, almost crispy, flesh with an aromatic cantaloupe flavor. Because its rind is thin and its seeds small, it can be eaten whole.
- Persian Melon: This muskmelon variety resembles cantaloupe, except that it is slightly larger, the rind is greener, and the netting on the rind is finer.
- Santa Claus Melon: Also called Christmas melon (because it peaks in December), this late-season variety resembles a small watermelon with green and gold stripes but has a central seed cavity like other melons. About a foot long, it has crisp flesh, but is not as sweet as other melons.
- Sharlyn: A sweetmelon with a netted greenish-orange rind and white flesh, Sharlyn tastes like a cross between cantaloupe and honeydew.
- Sprite Melon: This grapefruit-sized hybrid melon was developed in Japan, but is cultivated in this country. It has pale skin and crisp, ivory-colored flesh.
- Uzbek Melon: Originally from Uzbekistan, this oval-shaped melon can grow up to two feet long. It has a greenish or tan netted skin, sweet creamy white flesh that turns to orange at the center, and a floral aroma.
- Watermelon: This fruit is over 90 percent water,so it was a valuable source of nourishment and water for desert nomads and explorers throughout arid world. Today it’s a BBQ favorite, and a good source of vitamin C.
See also: Tomato-Melon Salsa recipe.
Published July 07, 2015