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A deliciously sweet, juicy and refreshing treat.
Similar to strawberries, the melon is a classic summer fruit. It is often considered a vegetable as it is related to both the cucumber and the pumpkin.
There are two main types of melon: watermelon and muskmelon. Watermelons have a green skin and mostly have red, or sometimes yellow, flesh. The flesh consists of 90% water and contains brown or black seeds that are evenly distributed throughout. Muskmelon seeds, on the other hand, can be found clustered all together in the centre.
Although muskmelons have a lower water content, they do have a higher fruit sugar content and therefore have quite a sweet flavour. The muskmelons include, for example, the galia melon, other varieties of netted melons and the honeydew melon. The popular charentais melon is a type of cantaloupe melon which also belong to the muskmelons. Depending on the variety, the muskmelons are a sweeter type of melon that usually has a yellow-white to deep orange coloured flesh with a skin that ranges in colour from dark green to pale yellow.
No matter which variety, all melons work excellently with various flavour combinations. They are not only delicious when eaten plain, but also when added to a cold salad or eaten alongside cheese and meat. Watermelons also taste particularly delicious when blended and added to fruit juices, smoothies or cocktails. Generally speaking, there are plenty of options for incorporating the melon into a menu.
|Calories||30-38 kcal per 100g|
|Nutrients||6.3-8g carbohydrate, 0.3-0.9g fibre, 0.1-0.3g fat, 0.5-0.7g protein|
|Season||May - September|
|Storage||store whole at room temperature; store cut pieces in refrigerator|
|Shelf life||3 weeks for a whole fruit; 3 days for refrigerated pieces|
The melon is supposed to have originated in Africa but it was already cultivated in Europe’s Mediterranean area during antiquity. The plant itself is an annual plant with a long stem that mostly grows close to the ground, but it can also grow upwards with the aid of a trellis. Melons like a warm climate and are therefore mostly cultivated in places like southern Europe, China, the US and South America.
Melons are also popular in Japan, where it is common to pay quite a bit of money for fruit that both looks and tastes good. Often given as a special gift, there is an exclusive Japanese-cultivated cross between a European and an American cantaloupe; at special auctions one can pay up to a couple of thousand Swiss Francs for the fruit!
There are more than 750 varieties of melon worldwide; a wide variety of muskmelons in particular can be easily found in the supermarket but are oftentimes difficult to distinguish.
The galia melon belongs to the netted melons. It is round and has a yellow skin with a white net-like coating. The flesh is white-yellow-green in colour and has a very sweet taste. It is easy to mistake the galia for the cantaloupe melon as the latter also has a netted exterior. The cantaloupe however has a green skin, a tighter net pattern and orange flesh. In addition to its sweet taste, this melon is also particularly juicy.
A popular variety of the cantaloupe melon is the charantais melon. It’s similar in appearance to the cantaloupe but has a smoother shell that is light green in colour and has a slightly darker net. It is smaller than the honeydew melon and has an especially intense flavour.
The honeydew melon has a fresh and sweet taste to it. It is oval in shape with a yellow, smooth skin and white flesh. The futoro melon is also longer in shape but has a dark green skin with yellow stripes and white-green flesh. It has a slightly different taste; it is not only aromatic and sweet, but also has a slight crunch to it.
It is not just the appearance and colour of the skin that determines how ripe a melon is; there are also a few tricks to it. Watermelons must be lifted and lightly knocked; it’s usually a good sign if it makes a dull sound and feels quite heavy. When it comes to muskmelons, it’s best to smell them and press them gently. If ripe, it should have a sweet smell and the shell should not be too firm to touch.
Much like apples and bananas, the melon never seems to go out of fashion and always seems to inspire chefs. Melon can be used in a variety of ways: as a starter in a Cervelat salad with ham; in a salad with asparagus, pine nuts and feta; grilled with curry powder alongside fish and bread; or pureed with vodka for the perfect summer drink.
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