You might have come across many types of cantaloupe and melons, but you cannot tell which is which since they are alike. Read more to know what differentiate them and their varieties.
What is a Cantaloupe?
Cantaloupes, also known as muskmelons, rock melons, or sweet melons, come from the family of C. Melos. They are renowned for their juicy, orange flesh and green-netted skin.
People used to define types of cantaloupe as melons that have bright orange flesh with non-netted skin. Soon it expanded to all kinds of juicy melons featuring hard-netted exterior.
The cantaloupe belongs to summer fruits. You can tell it from the sweet, sticky flesh and hard shell-like skin. Despite the similar characteristics, types of cantaloupe do not share the same color, size, and weight as they vary according to places of origin.
Although most of these ball-like fruits can only be found during the summer, it does not mean you cannot get any of them whatsoever in the other seasons because some types of cantaloupe have different growing time.
Muskmelon vs. Cantaloupe
You might be wondering whether the fruits in the above picture are types of cantaloupe or muskmelons. Well, identifying them is a bit tricky, as they look alike. However, are they just the same?
Muskmelons belong to the Cucurbitaceae family, and are a variety of melons. They are famous for their delectable sweet taste. Another significant feature of this species is their net-like pattern with moderate ribbing.
You can find muskmelons in supermarkets under the name of ‘cantaloupe’, which tends to lead people astray.
A real cantaloupe is the European cantaloupe. It does not grow in the United States, however. In fact, growing this species is harder than its counterpart is.
Now, the most important question is that whether all the varieties of muskmelons belong to the types of cantaloupe. The answer is no.
However, cantaloupes and muskmelons are closely related and similar in characteristics, which is why many people use these terms interchangeably.
Despite the subtle difference between types of cantaloupe and muskmelons in taste and appearance, they retain the same health benefits.
Like muskmelons, cantaloupes contain a lot of water and are rich in vitamin A and beta-carotene, which are well known for improving vision. They are also a good source of vitamin C, which helps you with the absorption of iron and boosts immune system.
Therefore, briefly, muskmelons have many other types, and cantaloupes are one of them.
Types of Cantaloupe and Melons
Types of cantaloupe and melons differ from their origin, the color of the flesh, tastes, textures, and sizes.
How many types of melons are there in the world? Some of them are as follows.
It turns out that the real types of cantaloupe do exist. Here it is – the European cantaloupe.
This type of cantaloupe does not grow in the United States. In fact, cultivating this variety is a bit tricky.
European Cantaloupe, also known as Cucumis melo cantalupensis, has hard-textured gray-green rind and is slightly netted. Oftentimes, it is not netted at all.
This variety has smooth light-colored exterior with green stripes. You will not find any crisscross patterns that resemble spider webs on it. Another significant feature is the smell and flavor, which is sweet and musky.
Many people believe that this type of cantaloupe is derived from Italy, Europe. The truth is that it comes from Africa or Asia. However, it gets its name from Cantalupo, a place in which it was harvested.
North American Cantaloupe
Many people say that this variety is not a cantaloupe whatsoever. It is merely a type of muskmelons. Whether it is true or not, North Americans consider it as the only types of cantaloupe they know.
Unlike European Cantaloupe, this species has rougher and more reticulated skin covering pale yellow shell. However, the find is not as hard as the true one. The odor and flavor are alike.
As this type of cantaloupe ripens, the raised netting skin becomes more noticeable. The greenish rind is getting darker until it turns into tan, but the flesh is still fragrant, juicy, and orange.
The Japanese cantaloupe, also known as the Yubari King melon, is a special variety that can cost you a fortune. If you want to enjoy the premium taste of these yellow melons, you will have to spend $200 for each.
You must be wondering the reason why it is so expensive. The cultivating process that entails extreme labor determines the price.
This type of cantaloupe is only planted and grown in Yubari, Japan. The farmers, who grow it, have to take care of it fastidiously. They prune the stem to the same lengths, pollinate the seeds manually, and massage the fruits by hand. No wonder it costs a leg and an arm.
The Yubari melon is the symbol of wealth. Only the lucky enough ones can afford this type of cantaloupe. You will need to break your bank if you want to splurge out on it.
Japanese types of cantaloupe have eminently smooth rind. The shape is perfectly round, and the flesh is pale yellow or orange.
It is said that types of cantaloupes were originally from Asia, specifically from Persia, which was later brought to Italy, and then got its name. The local name of this species is Persian melon or Hami Melon.
This type of cantaloupe, which is also called as Persian melon, varies in the term of appearance. Since it closely resemble the exterior of the true standard cantaloupe, it does not look like its North America counterpart.
The Asian variety, also called Cucumis melo reticulatus, is not deeply netted and the flesh is not as vivid as the North American types of cantaloupe. It tends to be pale orange, instead.
While the western versions feature rougher exterior, this Asian cantaloupe has subtle netting over the pale green or yellowish skin. The flesh is crispy tinge, which is different from the North American counterparts that tend to be soft and pulpy.
Another fact you need to know about these types of cantaloupe is that their appearance are varied. Some of them are larger, but they do have heavily netted exterior.
They eventually turn into a golden beige hue when fully ripe. These types of cantaloupe also produce an extremely sweet floral smell. The coral-colored flesh is eminently juicy with the distinctive texture, which is buttery yet firm.
If you are wondering, whether an Asian cantaloupe is ripe or not, you can tell it by observing the exterior of it. This species will be quite heavy due to the gigantic size. It happens because the fruit is concentrated sugar levels and rich in water-content.
Like many other types of cantaloupe, Asian varieties are mostly available in summer. They are a great source of beta-carotene, dietary fiber, folic acid, potassium, and vitamin C.
This one is another type of cantaloupe that comes from Asia, especially Israel. It is quite popular in Southeast Asia. People call this variety Sardar.
Many people believe that this fruit is a melon, not a cantaloupe. Despite the things that have been debated for so long, the Galia has pale yellow or green flesh, and it is pleasingly sweet.
The Galia Melon (Cucumis melo var. reticulates) is actually a hybrid of a melon and cantaloupe. This is why it resembles a cantaloupe from the exterior. When you see the inside of it, you will notice that it resembles honeydews.
This type of cantaloupe is not as big as the European and North American varieties. Therefore, people mostly consume it raw, fresh, and chilled. It is juicy and packs a wide array of minerals, bioflavonoids, and vitamins.
Another great thing about Galia Melon is that it contains low calories and zero fats, which makes it a great choice for those who are going on diet and want to shed some pounds without compromising the pleasure of sweet tooth.
This is also the reason why this type of cantaloupe becomes a popular fruit that most South Asians eat after dinner.
Honeydews belong to the part of gourd family, Cucurbitaceae. It is then divided into fruits, including melons and cantaloupes, and vegetables, including squashes, pumpkins, and cucumbers.
People grow this species in semi-arid conditions in Algeria and France. In fact, honeydew is just a term to call the White Antibes cultivars that have been growing for years.
Honeydews are the close relative of types of cantaloupes. Moreover, they belong to same species named Cucumis melo. Surprisingly, both of them are different.
The significant features of honeydews are the sweet melon whose flesh will remind you of cantaloupes. You will also aware that the rind is un-netted.
The charentais cantaloupe, also known as the charentais melon, is considered one of the best varieties due to its extremely good flavor, aroma, and texture. In fact, it is superior to its European and North American counterparts.
This species is the signature French Melon. It is derived from Western France, Poitou-Charentes region to be exact.
In the term of size, the Charentais cantaloupe is not as big as most melons. It is even smaller than its counterparts and grapefruit. Oftentimes, this variety only weighs 2lb.
The Charentais types of cantaloupe have a smooth, stony creamy gray exterior with faint green ribs over it. The dense color of the flesh is as bright as salmon is. It is eminently fragrant and flavorful due to the high sugar content.
This variety is also categorized as Cucumis Melo Cantalupensis. Since it is native to France, people also call it the French Cantaloupe. However, most of the production has been done in North Africa lately despite the name.
Just like many other types of cantaloupe, the Charentais is also available in summer. It also packs various health benefits due to the rich of dietary fiber, beta-carotene, and folic acid.
Are you looking for a hybrid that has delectable taste? Try this one, Crenshaw melon.
Crenshaw melons are a hybrid of Persian cantaloupes and Casaba. Therefore, it takes after the latter a lot. The difference between this variety and its parents is that it is less fragrant than both of the aforementioned species are. However, it has a better flavor.
People also call this type of cantaloupe as the Cadillac of Melons due to its premium taste. Furthermore, it is also quite large, and weighs around 8 or 10 pounds.
This type of cantaloupe has a buttercup yellow rind. When you graze it, you can feel the waxy and striation texture.
The Crenshaw has extremely sweet and juicy peachy flesh. Besides being eminently delicious, it also a good source of vitamin A, B6, and C.
How to Grow the Sweetest Cantaloupe Variety
If you are an avid gardener, growing the sweetest types of cantaloupe will be a piece of cake. Some tips to make this idea tangible are as follows.
Begin with the Sweetest Varieties
What is the sweetest cantaloupe? Some cantaloupes naturally taste sweet comparing to others. It has been in their basis of genetic composition already. Nonetheless, in some cases, you must do a small research to know the best seeds.
It becomes much easier, thanks to the internet. Try to find the one with a brix rating of 12. If you want to grow the types of cantaloupe that pack more sweet taste, try opting for 14 or 16.
Sow Seeds Early
It is imperative that you sow the seeds early, but it does not mean you have to in a rush.
All types of cantaloupe can thrive best in full sun and well-drained soil. The temperatures have to stay above 50 or 60 degrees Fahrenheit reliably when you begin to sow the seeds.
Get them planted in groups consisting of 2-3 seeds. Do not forget to give some space about two feet apart between the groups.
When the seedlings emerge, sort them out so that you only keep the strongest individual plant. Pull the rest.
The best way is to plant seeds outside because cantaloupes do best when you sow them directly.
If you prefer to begin with containers inside, you have to be extremely careful when transplanting them outside, as they are sensitive to root disturbance.
Cantaloupes require about 1 to 2 inches of water each week. If it has not been raining recently in your place, you can water your plant deeply but infrequently to reach that aforementioned amount.
When fruits get mature, gradually reduce watering because high moisture and too much water can damage the rinds as well as diluting the sugar content.
Characteristics of Ripe Cantaloupe
You might be wondering when your cantaloupes begin to ripen. Depending on the weather conditions, it usually happens from 35 to 45 days after pollination.
As they ripen, the green skin turns into creamy yellow-beige, the “netting” becomes more pronounced, and the tendrils begin to be brown and dry.
You had better not sit and watch the fruit falling off the vine by itself. Harvest it by gently twist it from the stem after watching the signs, instead. It is supposed to slip away easily because it is ripe already.
If you find it hard to twist the fruit, stop and let it ripen for a couple of days. It is no use to harvest cantaloupes too early, as they do not ripen after being removed from the vine.
Kindly store your Cantaloupes at 45 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit for about one or two weeks.
How to Choose the Best Cantaloupe
When going to a supermarket, you might come across many mouthwatering cantaloupes. Nevertheless, when you buy one, it may not as sweet as you think.
Cantaloupes are available throughout the year. However, they taste best during the summer.
When choosing a type of cantaloupe, look for the symmetrical one that feels slightly heavy. The color of the ripe one should be creamy, light yellow-orange. It is supposed to smell sweet and a bit musky.
Some Common Ways to Use Cantaloupe
Cantaloupes are naturally scrumptious, so you can eat them raw. However, they can be more delicious if you add them in some other beverages or foods.
Persian melons are generally consumed raw. You can also try grilling or searing them in a hot pan to caramelize the sugars.
This type of cantaloupe also makes a great traditional Iranian beverage. All you need to do is to mix the pureed flesh with sugar, water, and mint. Pair them with citrus, ginger, mint, avocado, arugula, and berries for a better taste.
You can also try to make nutritious cantaloupe smoothie by concocting the flesh with Greek yogurt, and natural sweetener for a great breakfast or snack.
What do you think about cantaloupe salad? Well, why not? Mix cantaloupe with basil, onions, mozzarella, and olives.
Have you ever tried cantaloupe sorbet? You only need cantaloupe, lemon, honey, and water as the main ingredients to make this refreshing treat.
Then, how about roasted cantaloupe? Will it be possible? Of course, it will. By roasting it, you will caramelize its sweetness.
Many types of cantaloupe are available in stores. They may not share the same size and texture, but they have similar health benefits, which are good for you. Besides, they are juicy and tasty. So, which one is your favorite?