Types Of Melons



The Many Types of Melons


Melon is a name that has been given to the members of the Cucurbitaceae family and its many types of melons. These various plants (also know as gourds), which produce sweet fleshy fruits, grow as a rambling vine all over the warm climated world.


The family has relatives ranging from cucumbers to pumpkins and fall into two categories: Citrullus and Cucumis. The types of melons are further divided into sub group that encompass the many varieties that are grown commercially here in America and abroad. Many can be identified by their distinctive markings and many are lumped together with other melons interchangeably-for instance, muskmelon and cantaloupe even though the cantaloupe is the more common.


Most melons are quite aromatic though some, such as those related to the watermelon, have nothing more than a fresh smell when opened. The types of melons grow from large (a bit larger than softball size) to the hefty sizes of some of the varieties-topping out at 15 pounds. They are a round fruit with pulpy fresh and many seeds.


Typical melon vines have both male and female flowers growing on them and need bees to pollinate them. Once this happens fruiting takes place and melons ripen in the late summer or early to mid fall. The colors of the different types of melons are similar-both in and outside in most. They are characteristic of grayish to white mesh or smooth skin to dark green and smooth on the outside and range in color from pale yellow to shades of orange and/or green on the inside. Their centers are hollow or fleshy/hollow where the seeds are housed.


Many people do not realize that squashes and cucumber are cousins to melons, or that any of them are known as gourds. Most melons favor the appearance of winter squash which are thicker and meatier/fleshier than the summer version or than cucumbers. And they have the characteristic seed filled centers such as acorn or spaghetti squash.


The difference within the gourd family is the way the fruit of the plants are used. Cucumbers and squashes are the fruit of the plants but are used as vegetables, while the many types of melons-which are the more sweet and often times juicy, are used as fruits. All are versatile and positively delightful when served fresh and/or raw-whether fruit or vegetable, served alone or as part of a salad, a side dish or a drink.


It is believed that all of the original melons came from the southern part of Asia (Middle Ages) and due to its popularity was transported overtime to most of Europe; the sweet taste of either cantaloupes or muskmelons delighting ancient Egyptians royalty as well as the Romans. The early settlers brought over seeds, grew them for food and later they were cultivated in California by the Spaniards.


All types of melons are great sources of vitamin C. They are also a good source of potassium and are low in calories, have a high water content for keeping cells hydrated and are low in cholesterol as well as being fat free.