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19 Types of Melons And What Is Distinctive About Them

Types of Melons
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“Men & Melons are hard to know” – Benjamin Franklin

Melons are really hard to know, rightly said by the great American polymath, Benjamin, in the above quote.

This holds true from both aspects.

Firstly, the beautiful looking melon may not be perfect inside.

Secondly, today, there are so many existing melon varieties that it’s hard to tell which one belongs to which genus and so on.

So, why not make this easy once and for all.

Let’s categorize the popular melon varieties in the easiest way possible in this blog.

Interesting Facts

In 2018, China became the world’s largest melon producer, with 12.7 million ton melons, followed by Turkey.

Types of Melons

How many types of melons are there in the world?

Botanically, melons belong to the family Cucurbitaceae, with three genera, Benincasa, Cucumis, and Citrullus. From each of these genera, we have tens of species further. 

Citrullus

The species falling in this genus are just two, including the world’s most popular melon, named watermelon, and another one known as the citron melon.

Let’s get to know both of these in detail.

1. Watermelon

Watermelon

There are 50+ varieties of melons differing in color, size, and shape. But almost all of them have a similar type of flesh and taste.

This sweetest melon is eaten raw after cutting into slices and is loved worldwide for its water content that keeps you hydrated in the summer.

Did you know?

Watermelon has the most sugar content among all the melons, with 18g of sugar in just one average-sized wedge.

Its history is as old as 5000 years, where little water in Africa’s deserts made it extremely important for its extraordinary ability to store water.

Scientific Name Citrullus lanatus
Native to Africa
Shape Round, Oval
Rind Dark Green to Light Green with a yellow splotch
Flesh Pink to reddish
How’s it eaten? As fruit (rarely vegetable)
Taste Too sweet

2. Citron Melon

It can be called a relative of watermelon, as the fruit is almost similar from outside. But the main difference is, unlike watermelon, it can’t be simply sliced and eaten raw. They are mainly used as preservatives for having plenty of pectin in them.

Scientific Name Citrullus amarus
Native to Africa
Shape Round
Rind Green with golden tinges
Flesh Hard white
How’s it eaten? Pickle, fruit preserve, or cattle feed
Taste Not sweet

Benincasa

There’s only one member in this family called winter melon, discussed below.

3. Winter Melon or Ash gourd

Winter Melon or Ash gourd

Mainly used as a vegetable, Winter gourd is also used in stews, stir-fried dishes, and soups. Since it has a mild taste, it’s cooked with strong-flavored items like chicken to get a richer flavor.

In countries like the Indian subcontinent, it’s known for boosting energy levels and improving digestion.

Scientific Name Benincasa hispida
Native to South & South East Asia
Shape Oval (sometimes round)
Rind Dark green to pale green
Flesh Thick White
How’s it eaten? As vegetable
Taste Mild taste; Cucumber like

Cucumis

Melons in the genus Cucumin are all culinary fruits and include melons we eat as a fruit in our daily life, including horned melon and different muskmelons, mentioned below.

4. Horned Melon or Kiwano

Horned Melon or Kiwano

This scary-looking melon is unique for having horns on it. When not ripe, it tastes like cucumber, and when ripe, it tastes similar to a banana.

It’s mainly grown in Newzealand and the US.

The jelly-like flesh has seeds that are edible too. But the peel is completely inedible.

Scientific Name Cucumis metuliferus
Native to Africa
Shape Oval with distinctive spikes
Rind Yellow to Orange
Flesh Jelly-like light green
How’s it eaten? As a fruit, In smoothies, sundae
Taste Mild, slightly sweet like banana, slightly cucumber-like

Now to the Muskmelons.

Scientifically the muskmelon is called Cucumis melo, followed by the particular variety name.

Most of the melons types we eat as fruit are muskmelons and are generally called large melons. So, let’s discuss them in detail.

5. European Cantaloupe

European Cantaloupe

What is an orange melon called?

Cantaloupes are called orange melons for having juicy, sweet orange flesh. They are named after a small town named Canalupa, which is located near Rome.

European cantaloupes are, in fact, true cantaloupes: different from what Americans think of them.

Cantaloupe is extremely beneficial for having antioxidants and almost 100% of the daily recommended vitamin C value – a vitamin that’s an immune booster.

They, too, are sliced before serving.

Scientific Name C. melo cantalupensis
Native to Europe
Shape Oval
Rind Light Green
Flesh Orange-yellow
How’s it eaten? As a fruit
Taste Very sweet
Do You Know?

In 2019, an American named William grew the world’s heaviest cantaloupe melon weighing 30.47kg.

6. North American Cantaloupe

North American Cantaloupe

This melon is common in the United States, Mexico, and some parts of Canada. It’s a muskmelon with a net-like rind. It’s eaten as fruit like other muskmelons.

Calfornia is the largest American state that produces these cantaloupes.

Scientific Name Cucumis melo reticulatus
Native to US, Canada, Mexico
Shape Round
Rind Net-like pattern
Flesh Firm orange flesh, moderately sweet
How’s it eaten? As a fruit
Taste Subtler (less distinct than EU cantaloupe)

7. Galia

Galia
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The common name for this melon in Southeast Asia is Sarda. It’s a cross between the netted-skin melon, Krimka, and the green-flesh melon, Ha-Ogen.

It’s also eaten as a fruit.

Scientific Name Cucumis melo var. reticulatus (hybrid)
Native to Vietnam
Shape Round
Rind Net-like pattern
Flesh Yellow
How’s it eaten? As a fruit
Taste Spicy sweet (with perfumed aromatics)

8. Honeydew

Honeydew

Which is the sweetest melon among all the melons?

Ripe honeydew melons are considered the sweetest of all the melons. They are characterized by pale green flesh and a sweet-smelling aroma.

Scientific Name Cucumis melo L. (Inodorus Group)‘Honey Dew’
Native to Middle Eastern
Shape Round to slightly oval
Rind Light green to full yellow
Flesh Pale green
How’s it eaten? As a fruit
Taste Sweetest of all the melons

9. Casaba Melon

Casaba Melon
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This melon resembles very closely with honeydew melon with the same shape and size but tastes differently. It tastes more like a cucumber instead of being sweet like honeydew.

Scientific Name Cucumis melo L.
Native to Middle East
Shape Round to slightly oval
Rind Golden yellow with wrinkles
Flesh Light whitish-yellow
How’s it eaten? As a fruit
Taste Sweet with a slight spiciness

10. Persian Melon

Persian melon
Image Sources Pinterest

These are elongated melons with extremely juicy and sweet flesh. When ripe, their color turns light green. These melons are cholesterol and fat-free with a higher quantity of vitamin A and C.

Scientific Name Cucumis melo cantalupensis
Native to Iran
Shape Oval or Round
Rind Grey-green or Yellow; Net-like
Flesh Coral-colored, extremely juicy, buttery texture
How’s it eaten? As a fruit
Taste Crunchy, Sweet
Interesting Fact

Melons have been the center of attention in vertical farming methods because it produces much more than what we get in traditional farming.

 

11. Crenshaw Melon

Crenshaw melon

Crenshaw melon is a hybrid variety of melon obtained by crossing a Persian and casaba melon. It’s also called the Cadillac of all the melons.

Scientific Name Casaba x Persian
Native to Americas & Mediteranans
Shape Oblong with a flat base
Rind Yellowish-green to golden-yellow with wrinkles at the stem end; slightly waxy feel
Flesh Peach-colored; aromatic
How’s it eaten? As a fruit
Taste Very sweet

12. Canary Melon

Canary Melon
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What are yellow melons called?

The yellow melons are called Canary melons, which are oval-shaped with a smooth rind that turns bright yellow when ripe.

Like other melons, canary melons are also low-fat, low-calorie fruit, having high vitamin A and fiber content.

Scientific Name Cucumis melo L. (Inodorus Group) ‘Canary’
Native to Asia, including Japan & Korea
Shape Elongated
Rind Bright yellow; Smooth
Flesh Pale-green to white (soft texture similar to ripe pear)
How’s it eaten? As a fruit
Taste Very sweet

13. Hami or Honey Kiss Melon

Hami or Honey Kiss Melon

This melon is originally from a city in China, known as Hami. Like other melons, Hami melon is low in calories as well (just 34 calories in 100g).

Scientific Name Cucumis melo’ Hami melon’
Native to China
Shape Elongated
Rind Greenish to yellow with furrows
Flesh Orange
How’s it eaten? As a fruit
Taste Sweet with a hint of pineapple sometimes

14. Sprite Melon

It’s one of the expensive melons that originated in Japan. The size and weight are relatively small, just 4-5 inches in diameter, and a one-pound weight on average.

They are categorized among small melons.

Scientific Name Cucumis melo L. (Inodorus Group) ‘Sprite’
Native to Japan
Shape Round (size of a grapefruit)
Rind White to light yellow; plain
Flesh White
How’s it eaten? As a fruit
Taste Very sweet (like pear & honeydew)
Do you know?

Japan offers some of the world’s most expensive melons. In 2019, a pair of Yubari King melons were sold at $45000 in Hokkaido city.

15. Korean melon

Korean melon
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It’s the melon that’s famous in East Asian countries, including Korea. It is rich in potassium and low in sodium that’s good for cardiovascular diseases and hypertension.

Scientific Name Cucumis melo var. Makuwa
Native to Korea
Shape Oblong or oval-shaped
Rind Yellow with widely distributed white lines
Flesh White
How’s it eaten? As a fruit
Taste Sweet, crunchy (between honeydew & cucumber)

16. Sugar Kiss Melon

Sugar melon

Sugar kiss melon is named so because of its super sweetness that melts in the mouth. It can be added to smoothies, fruit salads, or eaten raw.

Scientific Name Cucumis melo var. sugar
Native to Africa
Shape Round
Rind Net-like silvery gray ribbed skin
Flesh Orange
How’s it eaten? As a fruit
Taste Sweet

17. Santa Claus

Santa Claus

This melon has been named so because of its extended shelf-life. The dimensions are exactly what Crenshaw melon has, but the color is green, and the flesh is the same as a honeydew melon.

Scientific Name Cucumis melo ‘Santa Claus’
Native to Turkey
Shape Like an elongated watermelon
Rind Green colored
Flesh Pale green
How’s it eaten? As a fruit
Taste A mixture of European cantaloupe & honeydew

Momordica

Now you have got a good understanding of all the melons that we commonly know and eat like fruits; it’s time we learn about melons that are used as vegetables.

In short, the genus Momordica has all species that originate from the melon family, Cucurbitaceae but are tubular, do not taste sweet, and are part of cuisines rather than eaten raw.

So, let’s take an overview of these melon varieties.

18. Bitter Melon

Bitter Melon

This melon is totally opposite from the melons discussed above. It’s the bitterest melon that undergoes a bitterness-removal process before cooked, let alone eating it raw.

Instead of having a big round or oval-shaped, it’s small elongated with a tough rind.

Scientific Name Momordica charantia
Native to Africa & Asia
Shape Oblong, warty exterior
Rind Light to dark green; tough
Flesh Crunchy, watery
How’s it eaten? Cooked as vegetable
Taste Extremely bitter

19. Momordica balsamina

Momordica Balsamina

This is another melon similar to bitter gourd but lesser in bitterness. Its shape can be defined as a small but fat bitter gourd. It has big red seeds that, according to some, are poisonous.

It’s also called Common Balsam Apple. When ripe, it bursts apart to show the seeds.

The young fruits and leaves of Momordica balsamina are cooked in certain African countries.

Scientific Name Momordica balsamina
Native to South Africa, Tropical Asia, Arabia, India, Australia
Shape Like a small but fat bitter gourd
Rind Red to yellow, tough
Flesh Dry with just seeds inside
How’s it eaten? As vegetable
Taste Bitter

5 Tips for Picking the Right Melon

Picking the right melon is always a challenge. Sometimes a quick pick proves to be a success, and sometimes an assiduous search even gets an unripe or overripe one.

But a few tips may help you choose the perfect one. Let’s get to know what they are.

  • Pick the heavier one: While picking a melon to inspect, choose the heavier one.
  • Inspect: Once you have picked one, inspect it thoroughly for soft spots, cracks, or bruises, if any.
  • Check the rind color: Now, this is a bit tricky, as the same color-criteria does not work for any type of melon.
    • For watermelon and honeydew, a dull-looking appearance is better. Avoid picking the shiny ones, as they are underripe.
    • For muskmelons and cantaloupes, the ones with golden or orange rinds are the best. Don’t choose the one with white or green color.
  • Tap it: After you have picked the right melon, tap it with your palm if it sounds hollow, congrats! It’s what you are looking for.
  • Check the blossom end: The final test is to smell and gently press the blossom end: the section where it’s attached to a vine. If it is soft and fragrant, you’re good to go with this.

Conclusion

Melons are great to have as snacks, fruit salad, and whatnot. All muskmelons are extremely sweet that differ slightly in sweetness, rind type, and shape.

There are a few melons like a bitter melon, which are quite the opposite of the ordinary melons we eat as fruits. But all of them belong to the same family known as Cucurbitaceae.

Which of these melons are common in your region? and which one do you like the most? Let us know in the comment section below.

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