Colorful Members of The Melon Family

We typically know melons as crunchy fruits that are thirst-quenching and delicious. The two best known being watermelon and cantaloupe, you know that they are always eaten as is, added in fruit salads or used in cold refreshments. But did you know that they have family members that are prepared as vegetables? Here are some of the well-known fruits that are members of the melon family.

Horned Melon
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The Horned melon (Cucumis metuliferus) is a bizarre-looking, oval fruit with spiky yellow-orange skin, lime green jelly-like flesh and big seeds. The flavor is described as a mix between bananas, cucumbers and lemons. It is native to Africa and is also commonly called by various names including kiwano, jelly melon, hedged gourd, English tomato and melano. For obvious reasons, it is nicknamed blowfish fruit in the southeastern United States.

Honeydew Melon
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The honeydew melon is one of the cultivars of muskmelon (Cucumis melo) under the C. melo inodorus group. It has a greenish to yellow smooth rind and thick, juicy and sweet, pale green flesh.

Watermelon

Being one of the fruits with the highest water content is what makes watermelons (Citrullus lanatus) a summer favorite. Although they are typically known for their eye-catching red-colored flesh, their more than a thousand varieties include white, yellow, orange and pink ones.

Cantaloupe
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The cantaloupe refers to any orange-fleshed melon under the Cucumis melo group. They originated in India and Africa and were originally cultivated by the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. The cantaloupes are one of the fruits with the highest vitamin A content in the form of beta-carotene.

Piel de Sapo
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This melon with a green-blotched skin originated from Spain. Do you know what its name means? It translates as “toad skin,” because that’s exactly what its rind looks like. The flesh of the Piel de Sapo is described as having the sweet smell of the cantaloupe and the taste of honeydew melon.

Cucumber

Although the cucumber (Cucumis sativus) is one of the most widely consumed fruit, many people didn’t know that it is originally from India and that it belongs to the genus Cucumis together with the cantaloupe, honeydew and muskmelon. The cucumber has three main varieties and hundreds of cultivars so do don’t be surprised if you come across with smooth-skinned or those that are round-shaped.

Winter Melon
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While it’s other family members can be eaten straight or are favorite ingredient in fruit salads, the winter melon, also known as white gourd, ash gourd, and fuzzy melon is eaten as a vegetable. It is prepared as a main ingredient in soups; it can also be made into sweets, curries and is widely marketed as tea in parts of Southeast Asia. It is added in mooncake for the annual Moon Festival in China and Taiwan. In the Philippines, it is known as kundol.

Bitter Melon

Here’s the most far out member of the melon family. The bitter melon, or bitter gourd is known as one of the bitterest fruits. It also comes in a variety of shapes and sizes and bitterness. Depending on variety, they have white to green skin with jagged to warty surface. It has so many culinary uses in South Asia; there’s even a softdrink made from it. The fruit and the leaves are also widely used in Asian and African traditional medicine.