Melons, like their cousins, the cucumber, come from the cucurbit family. The United States is currently one of the world leaders in melon consumption, with approximately 27 pounds of melons consumed per capita. While there are hundreds of varieties of melons, the three most popular strains in America are Watermelons, Cantaloupes, and Honeydews.
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Order: Cucurbitales
- Family: Cucurbitaceae
- Genus: Citrullus (Watermelon), Cucumis (Cantaloupe, Honeydew)
- Species: Citrullus lanatus (Watermelon), Cucumis melo var. cantalupensis (Cantaloupe), Cucumis melo L. (Inodorus Group) ‘Honey Dew.’
- Binomial name: Varies
- Yubari King Melons are probably the most expensive fruits in the world; a couple recently sold in Japan for more than $20,000
- Watermelons have been around for thousands of years; some have even been depicted in ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphs
- Melon seeds can be roasted and eaten as a snack
- Watermelons are 92% water, that’s how the name came to be
Melon Buying Guide
While there are many different kinds of melons, here are some tests that you can do to determine their wholesomeness.
- Melons should feel heavy or hefty for their size. If a melon feels light for its size, avoid.
- Skin Color
- Melons are shiny when underripe and a bit dull when ripe. Choose melons that have a dull color.
- Avoid melons that have an underlying white color; this is a sign that it hasn’t fully ripened yet.
- As with any fruit, check for bruising, moldy spots, cracks, or soft spots.
- Smell Test
- You can gauge the sweetness of the melon by smelling the area where the vine is attached, and the more pronounced the smell, the sweeter the melon will be.
- Sound Test
- Tap the melons gently with your knuckles, and the sound should be vibrant and not a dull thudding sound.
Melon Production & Farming in Texas
Texas ranks 3rd in overall production of melons, with 75% of its crop being cantaloupes, 20% being honeydew, and the rest being different kinds of melons. The cash value for melon production in Texas is around $82 million annually, with an economic impact of approximately $115 million.
Depending on market outlook, anywhere between 12,000 and 20,000 acres are being utilized for melon production in Texas. Melons can be grown almost anywhere in the state.
Melons are usually on EWG’s Clean Fifteen list because of their thick rinds, which protect them from pesticide absorption. Even though minimal pesticides were detected, the usage of pesticides for melons is pretty high due to its susceptibility to weeds, diseases, and pests.
Melons grow from vines, which require a lot of space to grow properly. The larger the fruit, the bigger the space needed for the plant to thrive.
Melons also thrive in deep soil that is well-drained and has a lot of organic matter, as well as a pH level of 6.0-6.5.
Almost all melon varieties are picked and packed on the same day on the field then directly sent to the customer/market. For larger melon producers, they are first sent to a packing house where they are sorted by size/quality before being sent out to the stores or distributors.
For more information on each of the melon types, check their individual pages.
The way to prepare melons is universal. First, give the melons a thorough wash to remove any dirt or contamination from the surface of the fruit. After washing, slice the melon down the middle, passing through the stem area (vertically).
- For watermelons – Cut them into wedges then serve them.
- For Cantaloupes and other melons with mushy “seed” clusters in the middle – Scoop out the seeds before cutting them into wedges.
Different melons call for different storage methods.
- Whole watermelons can be stored at room temperature for up to a week
- They can also be stored inside the fridge for up to two weeks
- Watermelons do not freeze well.
- Muskmelons/Cantaloupes can be stored in the fridge from five to fifteen days, depending on the ripeness.
- Store inside a plastic bag to avoid the musky smell of the melons from contaminating other food in the fridge.
- Muskmelons can also be stored in the freezer as long as the rind is removed first, and the flesh is stored in a freezer-safe container.
- Whole honeydew melons can be stored in room temperature for a few days
- They can also be stored in the fridge for up to two weeks
- For freezer storage, remove from the rinds and place in freezer-safe containers for up to six months
Melons are usually enjoyed raw by themselves or as toppings for many other desserts and salads. For specific cooking methods, check out their individual pages.
While there are a variety of melons out there, one thing is for sure; they’re all tasty and good for you.
- All melons share the same trait: They are low in carbs and high in water content.
- Melons are low on the glycemic index scale, meaning they won’t affect blood sugar levels much.
- Melons are not a good source of dietary fiber, as they are mostly water and carbs.
- Vitamins and minerals:
- Melons are good sources of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and other Vitamins and minerals that are good for your health.
- For more specific vitamin and mineral content, check out the individual pages for each melon variety.
When Are Melons in Season in Texas?
To find out when Melons are in season in Texas, please check the seasonal chart below. Why is this important? We are rarely encouraged to think about the physical lengths our food travels before arriving on the market shelves. And all of this travel comes with a hefty environmental cost that is concealed from the consumer’s eye. One of the most salient benefits to eating seasonally is that you are effectively reducing your carbon footprint and supporting a more geographically sustainable food economy. Check other fruit and veg that’s in season in Texas now.