Peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots, and cherries are classic summer fruits, but you can’t forget about melons. Perfectly sweet and ripe for the eating, melons also get their time in the spotlight during the summer months. They may not seem like summer fruits because you can always find watermelons, cantaloupes, and honeydews in stores year round. Visit a grocery store that features seasonal items or a farmer’s market and you’ll find melons in great supply.
We’re confident in saying that there are many melons you’ve never tried or heard of in your life. Melon mania is here and your window of opportunity is closing to enjoy these water-rich, nutrient dense fruits. Melons belong to the same botanical family as cucumbers, squash, and gourds. Unlike zucchini and cucumbers, melons are very sweet, especially when ripe. We detail more melon facts below.
Melons are fragrant, juicy, and incredibly sweet. They have a long history of being staple fruits in many cultures, and they fall into two species:
- Cucumis melo, which includes cantaloupes, honeydews, and muskmelons
- Citrullus lanatus, also known as watermelons, which includes yellow watermelons and sugar babies (these look like watermelons but differ slightly)
There are unique varieties that reveal themselves at farmers markets and local grocery stores during peak season. How do you pick the perfect melon, though? Well, put your ear to the melon and listen for the ocean’s song. No, don’t do that. To judge the ripeness of a watermelon, tap it and listen for a dull “plunk” sound. For honeydews and winter melons, the blossom end should give when you apply a little pressure. Finally, smell muskmelons and cantaloupes to take note of a strong fruity aroma.
Summer Kiss Melons
Summer Kiss melons have a distinctive color, but the flavor is a bit more subdued than other melons. It looks like a cantaloupe on the outside, but the flesh is nearly identical to the flesh of honeydew, only the center has an orange hue. It is very creamy and rich and works as a refreshing snack, but you can incorporate it into smoothies, salsas, and summer fruit salads.
Santa Claus Melons
Christmas in July? It is when this melon shows up in the kitchen! Sometimes referred to as piel de sapo (toadskin), Santa Claus melons resemble small watermelons that are a bit more oblong in shape. They have gold or bright yellow stripes that break up the green. The brighter the yellow stripes, the riper the melon. The flesh is similar to honeydew, only it is a bit more pale green or mild yellow.
Native to China, the Hami melon is oblong just like the aforementioned Santa Claus melon, only a bit smaller. It belongs to the muskmelon family and tastes very similar to a cantaloupe, only the flavor profile is sweeter and the flesh is crispier. To help balance the sweetness, squeeze a lime wedge over the fruit when you eat it fresh.
Yes, the flesh of this watermelon is really yellow! If you want to enjoy this as a thirst-quenching treat (given that watermelons are 92% water), chill it for a few hours prior to serving. Depending on the variety, yellow watermelons range from small to large, weighing as little as six pounds or more than 20 pounds.
This melon may look more like a winter squash than a refreshing summer melon, but don’t judge this tasty fruit by its exterior. Casaba melons have a bright yellow rind, which can look somewhat wrinkled or withered. The flesh is a similar color to that of a honeydew, but it is incredibly sweet and creamy. A lot of people agree that the flavor is more mild and reminiscent of a cucumber.
This melon has made a name for itself because it is one of the sweetest varieties available. It ripens from midsummer to early autumn and tends to weigh anywhere from eight to 10 pounds. The Crenshaw melon has a pink-orange flesh that is very thick and an aroma that will blow you away. It goes great with savory and salty flavors.
Golden Honeydew Melons
Have you ever opened a bag of chips and realized that most of the bag was just air? You won’t be disappointed like that when you open a golden honeydew melon. It has a small cavity, which means that you get to enjoy more fruit! Look for a slight opening at the blossom end to detect when they’re ripe.