Sugar melons

Singular:
Sugar melon
Family:
Cucurbitaceae – Cucurbit family
Species:
Cucumis melo

Origin

We do not know exactly where melons have their origins, but some botanists presume that they come from India as the name may have been derived from a Sanskritic word. Others suggest the Middle East: In the Ancient Egypt they had an own word for the sweet fruits, however neither the Greeks nor the Romans linguistically made a distinction between cucumbers and melons. It is worth noting that melons appear on mural paintings in Pharaoh’s tombs. Further, they could come from Africa: wild forms of the sweet melon can still be found.

Plant

From a botanical point of view, they are, they are vegetables like their relatives cucumbers, pumpkins, courgettes and watermelons. For consumers, however, they are seen as delightful summer fruits. The creeping, annual plants with tender yellow blossoms carry sweet, flavoursome fruits with high water content. This is different to watermelons, which have seminal cores that concentrate themselves in the middle of the flesh. There are melon varieties with smooth, ribbed or reticulated skins.

Cultivation

Today, melons are cultivated in tropical and semitropical climates all over the world — in greenhouses or film tubes as well as on open land. The most important producers are China, Turkey and other Mediterranean countries.

Importations

All the year round: Spain delivers from April to February, but Turkey only does this until January. They come from Italy and France from May to October and respectively at the end of September. Egypt also exports in November and December as well as from April until July, Israel does this from April to January, thereafter South Africa exports from January until March. Argentina delivers until June. Brazilian melons are in the market from December to March and Chilean melons are until April.

Fruit

Edible:
The flesh.
Inedible:
The skin.
Better remove:
The cores.
Odeur:
Fruity, somewhat like honey.
Flavour:
Either a little or intensely sweet and fruity with an aroma characteristic of the species.
Weight:
500 g to 2 kg.
Shape:
Roundish or ovoid.
Skin:
They are thick, and depending on the variety, can be smooth and yellow or chartreuse, covered with whitish or light brown netting or smooth covered with ribs or warts.
Flesh:
Also, depending on the variety, they can be intensely pale yellow to chartreuse, orange or greenish; soft, melt-in-the-mouth and very juicy; the middle chambers contain gelatinous matter and numerous seminal cores.
Ripeness:
The fruits smell intense, the peduncle is wizened and chapped, the opposite side, where the blossoms sit, can be easily pressed down.
Overripe fruits:
The side of the blossom starts to rot and the fruit ferments.
Unripe fruits:
They are without aroma and taste like cucumbers.

Usage

They can be eaten raw or added to sweet dishes and hearty salads as well as to raw ham, salami and spicy kinds of cheese. They may be cubed or put into balls for punch or swimming in sparkling wine as a summer drink. In addition, they can be mashed for a dessert sauce or sorbet.

Storage

Whole mature fruits can be stored for about 8 days in the fridge while sliced fruits wrapped in platic film should only be put in for a maximum of 2 days. Post-maturation: at room temperature.

Species and varieties

Due to the nature of the skin, sugar melons are subdivided into three categories:

Muskmelons or Cantaloupe melons:
The skin contains many ribs or is coated with warts.
Reticular melons:
The skin is coated with a whitish or light brown corky netting.
Honeydew melons:
The skin is smooth, mostly ribbed or sometimes crenated.