Fruit – Vegetable – Tropical Fruits
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Due to the nature of the skin, sugar melons are subdivided into three categories: