Benjamin Franklin once said, “Men and melons are hard to know.”
We know he was a genius and all, but we can’t help but think he was halfway wrong.
After all, there’s only one known variety of man. Melons, on the other hand…
From winter to water, honey to horned, there are dozens of types of melons to get to know.
Officially part of the Cucurbitaceae family, most types of melons got their start in Africa, though some varieties sprouted up in the Middle East and as far east as India.
Thanks, in part, to their hardy rinds, the fruit was one of the first to start traveling the world, with recent discoveries placing melon seeds on the move as far back as the Bronze Age.
That kind of longevity has seen the crop widely farmed in ancient Egypt, eagerly fed to soldiers in ancient Rome and lovingly depicted by Renaissance painters who, by the 1600s, were enjoying such modern varieties as honeydew and casaba melons.
It’s also made the fruity family quite diverse, with the love of melons coming in many different flavors. After all, love is patient, and love is kind, but the love of melons can also be bitter or blind.
(Though we wouldn’t recommend eating the Blind Melon – unless you like the taste of vinyl.)
Some of the more palatable types of melon include:
Arguably the most popular type of melon of all, this varietal got its start in Africa, where it’s been cultivated for at least 4,000 years. As such, we can currently enjoy over 1,200 types of watermelon cultivars – which can range anywhere from 6 to 50 pounds each, or, in one very special case, as much as 350 pounds.
If you’re thinking that sounds like way too much watermelon, we’re guessing it’s because you’ve never tried one. The fruit is perfectly sweet and practically made to be as refreshing as its name, with its tender flesh consisting of 90 percent water.
Watermelons are so cool, even their rind is edible. Though you should probably still spit those iconic black seeds out – just in case that old wives’ tale is true.
By far the most controversial member of the melon family, honeydew has been nicknamed the “filler fruit,” with its pale green color and mealy texture considered the wishy washiest part of any fruit salad.
To all those haters, we here at FruitStand would like to present Exhibit A: An actual, ripe honeydew.
A satisfying crunch and color should deliver a taste as sweet as its namesake when a honeydew is in its finest form. And besides their good taste, honeydews keep on delivering, packing loads of vitamin C and B6 and showing, in some studies, to help lower blood pressure.
Filled with so much good stuff, we guess maybe that nickname is right on, after all.
Sci-fi fans might mistake this melon for Darth Maul, the double-lightsaber wielding villain from the Star Wars prequels. But while it’s just as colorful and sports the same kind of spikes, the horned melon is anything but a bad guy.
Originating in Central Africa, the melon ranges anywhere from green to eye-popping orange and is ringed with its signature horns. But it’s even stranger on the inside, with a jelly-like green flesh that looks like a kiwi fruit and has been described as tasting like anything from cucumbers and zucchini to banana, lime and passionfruit.
A one-of-a-kind fruit deserving of its own movie. Someone call George Lucas!
Cantaloupe, on the other hand, is one of the world’s most widely-recognizable fruits. Though you may not know that it’s technically a muskmelon – and sometimes called a mush melon.
That sounds like a knock on the fruit’s texture and smell, though we’re not sure how someone could not like that sweet orange flesh – which adds a fun flash of color for anyone cutting into the melon’s otherwise scaly beige rind.
Cantaloupes are also one of the healthiest types of melons, so it’s a good thing even its plentiful seeds are edible – and especially tasty when roasted!
Another muskmelon, this is one of the more unique examples of the melon world.
Casabas are oblong, with one pointed end and a bright yellow skin that wrinkles around their rind. On the inside, the fruits are a creamy pale green and tender, filled with vitamins B6 a C.
And while it’s often incorporated into cool summer dishes like smoothies and cold soups, casaba is technically a winter melon, taking its name from its particularly long shelf life that could help the fruit survive long weeks in winter storage.
When a cantaloupe and a casaba love each other very much, beautiful things happen—like the birth of the crenshaw.
This type of melon is a hybrid of its two popular parents, but has plenty of fans itself, thanks to the tasty qualities it inherited.
On the outside, it resembles its casaba parent, while inside, it rocks a cantaloupe’s sweet orange flesh – and carries far less seeds, making more of this melon available for any fruit salad.
Still, it didn’t quite get the winter melon gene, and needs to be eaten typically within a week of ripening.
Widely popular in South America, these types of melons are close relatives of honeydew – and actually often confused with their famous cousin, as their insides can take on the same pale green color.
On the outside, canary melons strike a much flashier tone, rocking the beautiful golden color of their avian namesake. And with its sweet taste and high content of nutrients like vitamins A and C, you’ll really be singing this melon’s praises.
The melon of many names, this cultivar is also referred to as the Christmas melon, the croc melon or the piel de sapo, which translates, from Spanish, to the skin of toad.
That’s all thanks to its strange rind, which presents as a deep, dark green covered with squiggly yellow wrinkles.
On the inside, it’s all mellow yellow and mild sweet flavor – much more Prince than frog.
Still, its most jovial nickname comes from its longevity. The ultimate winter melon, the Santa Claus melon may have the longest melon shelf-life of all – making it a delectable treat that’s ready for all seasons.
But even if they’re not named after the ultimate present giver, melons are always the gift that keeps giving.