Melon

Melons

Ambrosia

Melon_ambrosia This looks and tastes like a cantaloupe, but the flesh is a brighter orange

Canary melon

Melon_canary These tend to vary in quality, so unless you're good at selecting melons, stick with more idiot-proof varieties like the honeydew or cantaloupe. Canaries should, at a minimum, have bright yellow rinds. They're in season in the fall.

Cantaloupe

Melon_cantaloupe These are popular because they're easy to select and very sweet. Ripe cantaloupes have dull yellow backgrounds with raised netting. Avoid those with protruding stems, or tears in the rind at the stem end--it's a tell-tale sign that the melon was picked too soon. When ripe melons are picked, the stem falls off easily, leaving a small, clean depression. After checking the stem end, flip the melon over and check the blossom end. It should be fragrant and yield a bit when pressed. Cantaloupes are cheapest in the summer.

Casaba

Melon_casaba These aren't as flavorful as other melons, but they have a fairly long shelf life. Since they have thick rinds, it's useless to smell them as a test for ripeness. Look instead at the color (it should be bright yellow), and then check to see if the blossom end yields to gentle pressure.

Crane

Melon_crane This melon-cantaloupe cross is exceptionally juicy and flavorful, but it's hard to find outside of Sonoma County, California.

Cranshaw

Melon_crenshaw This large, popular melon is a cross between the Persian and Casaba melons. The rinds come in two colors: yellow and creamy white. The yellow ones taste better. You can buy Cranshaws while they're still a little underripe and let them sit on the counter for a few days. When fully ripe, a Cranshaw will be fragrant and yield slightly to gentle pressure at its blossom end. They're best in the fall

Galia Melon

Melon_galia This sweet, juicy melon is a honeydew-cantaloupe cross. Its biggest drawback is its relatively high price.

Honeydrew

Melon_honeydew These large, choice melons have either green or orange flesh. As honeydews ripen, they turn from green to creamy white to yellow. Avoid green ones, but a creamy white one will (unlike other melons) ripen on your counter in a few days. A perfectly ripe honeydew will yield just a bit to pressure at the blossom end and have a sticky, velvety rind.

Israeli Melon

Melon_israeli The Israeli Old Original Melon is a very old heirloom melon that originated in Israel. Little to nothing is known of its origin. This large, slightly oval melon features a cream colored to yellow-orange rind and weighs from 7 to 8 pounds.

The melons are very aromatic and yield a wonderful tasting cream colored that is packed with a super-sweet flavor.

Juan Canary

Usage: Raw in fruit salads or in fruit platters.

Good-quality Canary melons will be fairly large and firm with a small amount of softness at the stem end. The coloring will be canary yellow with no green on the skin. The skin will have a slightly waxy feel when the melon is ripe.

Avoid product that is too firm, too soft, has dark blemishes on the skin or is green-colored.

Available from California and Arizona from June until October, with the peak in July.

Product from South America is available during the winter months. The flavor can be good, but they won't be as sweet as those available in the summer months.

Kiwano melon

Melon_kiwano This melon has a gorgeous orange rind with spikes--poke a stick in it and you'd have a medieval mace for a Halloween costume. The yellow-green flesh has the consistency of jello, and tastes a bit like cucumbers.

Pepino Melon

Usage: Eaten raw for breakfast, in fruit and spinach salads. Pepinos are great served peeled and cubed or sliced.

Also called melon pear, melon shrub and mellowfruit, good-quality Pepino melon will be smooth-skinned, have a sweet smell on the stem-end and be as firm as a partially ripe plum. The coloring of ripe fruit will be pale yellow with purple stripes.

Avoid product that is soft, dented or light for its size.

Ripen at room temperature until as firm as a slightly ripe plum, then refrigerate ripe fruit for up to 3 days.

Pepinos are available in the late Fall. Pepino melons are native to Peru. They're also grown in California and New Zealand.

Persian melon

Melon_persian These are large, round melons. They're excellent when vine-ripened, but mediocre when not. Avoid Persian melons that have green backgrounds below the netting--they were picked too early. Also avoid those with protruding stems, or tears in the rind at the stem end--it's a tell-tale sign that the melon was picked too soon. When ripe melons are picked, the stem falls off easily, leaving a small, clean depression. They peak in the summer months.

Piel de Sapo meloen

Piel-de-sapo Sweet and juicy taste and aroma when ready to eat. Rich in vitamins A and C. Piel de sapo is Spanish and mean "Skin of the toad". Delicious to eat whit a little lemon juice.

Santa

Melon_santa This is distinguished mostly by its long shelf life--you can store an uncut Santa Claus melon for several months. They have thick rinds, so don't bother smelling them for ripeness--they don't give off much of an aroma

Sharlyn

Melon_sharlyn When ripe, this has an orange background with green netting. It's very perishable, so don't wait more than two days after getting it home to eat it.

Yellow melon

Melon_yellow These melons are small, about the size of medium papaya. They taste like cantaloupe, but with firmer flesh