Is there a more quintessential snack on a hot summer day than a slice of watermelon?
Many people don’t realize there are dozens of varieties of melons available. Let’s explore a few varieties, how to best use them, and highlight their rich nutritional content.
The History of the Melon in One Paragraph
Melons originated in Africa and southwest Asia, and commonly grown in the warmer regions of the world. The melon plant belongs to the family Cucurbitaceae, the gourd family of flowering plants. They are annual plants and found in season typically from July through September. The fruits come in all shapes and colors, depending on the variety and vary in size and shape as well. Melons may look very different and come in different sizes, but they all have a sweet, juicy flesh. It makes them a natural thirst quencher!
The Crenshaw melon is a hybrid cross between a Persian melon and Casaba melon. It’s one of the sweetest varieties in the melon family.
It has a sweet, yet slightly spicy taste. They are large, averaging 8-10 pounds and typically spherical in shape with a tapered point at the stem. Choose a Crenshaw melon at the peak of ripeness. You will know when its skin turns a golden-yellow color and you feel a tenderness at the stem end.
Crenshaw melon makes for a tasty snack. People also serve it up in salads and desserts. For something different, pair it with salty, cured meat and mozzarella as an appetizer. Or, sear or grill cubes on a fruit skewer. Crenshaw melon is an excellent source of vitamins A and C.
Muskmelons come in many varieties, but they all have a characteristic light tan netting over their exterior. They are round or oval in shape.
They range from 5-8 pounds and thrive in high heat conditions. When sliced into, their smooth, aromatic, musky scented orange flesh is exposed along with a central seed cavity. Think twice before tossing out those seeds! Along with vitamins and minerals, the seeds are a good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which are supportive of good heart health and cholesterol levels. Roast the seeds for a delicious addition to your salad.
In the United States, we commonly see muskmelons displayed or advertised as cantaloupe, so pick one up today!
Nutritional benefits of melons
No matter the color, shape or size, all melons provide similar vitamins and minerals.
- Melons are made up of mostly water (a great way to rehydrate in the summer heat!), low in calories, and a good source of fiber.
- They are a great source of vitamin C and contain minerals, like potassium, to aid in regulating blood pressure, manganese, iron and phosphorus.
- Eating melons provides an energy boost as they contain B vitamins, which support the body’s energy production and processing of carbohydrates and sugars.
- We find collagen in melons, which supports the integrity of our cell structure in all connective tissues, like our skin, to help maintain firmness and aid in wound healing.
- Our hair even benefits from this tasty fruit as the vitamin A derived from the beta carotene in melons like cantaloupe, is essential for normal hair growth and the maintenance of healthy hair.
Recipe: Space Melon Salsa
This month’s recipe features cantaloupe as the star ingredient. The sweetness from the melon helps balance the kick from the jalapeno pepper and crunch from the diced red onion. Think beyond a traditional tomato-based salsa and try this fruit salsa to ignite your taste buds for your next taco night.
This fruit salsa is super easy to whip up in a pinch and can be served as an appetizer for a party or as the perfect topping for any grilled meat or fish. Feel free to add or swap any other ripe fruits you may have on hand already—think berries, peaches or plums!
Spicy Melon Salsa
- 1cupcantaloupe, chopped
- 1jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
- 1/4cupred onion, diced
- 1/4cupcilantro, freshly torn
- 1lime, juiced
- Combine all the salsa ingredients in a bowl, seasoning with the salt.
- Toss well and let sit until ready to eat.
- Serve with your favorite tacos or tortilla chips!