Sep 19 2012

A Melon Primer

The Saturday before we traveled to England, I found myself easily able to predict what fruit we'd find at the farmers' market, and planned accordingly. Then we went away for two weekends and returned to multiple unrecognizable varieties of melons. After suffering through a melon salad on the airplane that managed to taste both bland AND cloyingly sweet, I was reminded why melon is one of the few fruits I don't actively seek out.

While I do enjoy eating watermelon in the summer, especially outdoors for easy seed disposal, I'm frequently let down by inconsistent flavor and, until a few weeks ago, the lack of variety.

Groundworks Organics is currently selling nine different melon varieties, all of varying shapes, sizes, weights, and attractiveness. The margarita melon is the most visually appealing, between its smooth skin and lovely yellow hue. Based on outward appearance alone, the charentais melon ties the carosello barese for the prize of oddest and--not to mince words--ugliest.

I bought one of each, brought them home, photographed them, and took tasting notes. I've since purchased several of the melon varieties listed below, and have found the flavors have already changed slightly. Depending on their position in their respective growing season, the taste has become more concentrated or more watery.

What follows is a description of each melon, along with my taste reactions!

Yellow Doll

What: A watermelon variety with a quick maturation (65 days, in many cases)

Appearance: Looks larger and less dark than some melons; full of seeds on the interior

Taste: My version tasted bland and dense; it should taste slightly tart and refreshing


What: This melon was first cultivated in Iran 5,000 years ago; also known as rock melon

Appearance: Familiar, tiny round bumps/ridges on a tannish rind

Taste: Juicy, sweet, tropical; reminiscient of creme brûlée


What: An unusual melon variety with limited distribution

Appearance: A gorgeous rich yellow with a smooth rind

Taste: Similar to honeydew; silky, juicy, and velvety


What: "Honeydew" is the American name for the White Antibes cultivar

Appearance: yellow exterior with a few 'vines' and ridges; spherical

Taste: Sweet, like coconut


What: A melon variety with a very thin outer rind

Appearance: Lemon, wax-like coating on the exterior

Taste: Caramel; syrupy, like something sugary was added (true to its name!)


What: A French cantaloupe, originating from the Poitou-Charentes region around 1920

Appearance: A nearly even circle with a gnarly, gourd-like exterior

Taste: The most condensed sweet flavor of all nine melons tasted: if you closed your eyes and bit in, you'd think, "this is what a melon should taste like"

Tangerine Dream

What: A watermelon variety, named for its tangerine colored interior

Appearance: Its exterior resembles a dark watermelon

Taste: Watery, watermelon-'lite', honey-like on certain bites

Red Delicious

What: A watermelon variety with a thin, tough rind

Appearance: Light green exterior; long light colored stripes

Taste: Like a concentrated watermelon; very tender

Carosello Barese

What: An Italian variety that's popular in Puglia. A member of the melon family; if harvested young, will taste more like a cucumber

Appearance: An extremely long, pale fuzzy cucumber; interior is pulpy

Taste: Very sour (an earlier harvest might have changed my opinion from dislike to intrigue)