We’re big fans of taking advantage of all the fresh ingredients that each season has to offer. Yes, we’re talking about those classic farmers market darlings like tomatoes, berries, and peaches. But let’s not forget about some of the oft-overlooked members of the fruit family—like sweet, juicy, reliable melons!
It’s about time that melons got a moment in the spotlight—after all, there are so many shapes, sizes, flavors and colors in the melon family, from sweet, juicy, deep magenta sugar babies to mild, crisp, minty-green casabas. And with each variation in texture, flavor, and sweetness comes a whole new way to eat, season, and prepare this delicious summer fruit. So clear some room in your fridge, get your chef’s knife ready, and get ready to chop, slice, and purée.
You might find it hard to believe that the sweet, juicy watermelon is related to vegetables like squash, cucumbers, and pumpkin, but it’s true—they’re all part of the same vine-grown produce family. Firm and bright green on the outside, and deep, #millennialpink on the inside, watermelons love to grow in the heat—depending on where they’re grown, they’re at their peak deliciousness from late June through September. A few pro tips for picking out the best watermelon: choose one that’s heavy for its size and produces a deep, hollow sound when you knock on it.
Once you’ve picked out the perfect watermelon, it’s time to eat it! Enjoy your juicy fruit simply in this Watermelon, Mint, and Feta Salad. Or, if you want to hop on the cold soups trend, blend it up into a watermelon-tomato gazpacho.
Sugar babies are the super small, super sweet siblings of the watermelon. Sugar babies tend to weigh in at around 6-8 pounds and measure 7-8 inches (where traditional watermelons weigh an average of 20 pounds, and 8-12 inches), so they’re truly pint-sized—perfect for small groups (or, ahem, a single-serving). Use sliced or diced sugar baby melon anywhere you would use watermelon. And don’t forget to master the best way to slice it, first!
While some summer fruits come and go in a snap (hello, raspberries) cantaloupe sticks around for the season, with peak harvest running from late May until mid-September. That gives you nearly four months to eat, cook, and garnish with this sweet, sturdy, orange-fleshed melon. We’ll help you get started—these quick and easy cantaloupe recipes will make this underdog melon the star of your summer kitchen.
Though the name “muskmelon” is often used interchangeably with “cantaloupe,” there’s a difference between the two melon varieties. Muskmelon is technically the name for the larger category under which various melons (like honeydew, cantaloupe, and casaba) fall. and thus there are many different types of muskmelons, with a wide variety of shapes, sizes, flesh color and flavor.
Also known as a honey melon, honeydew is known for its light green flesh and fragrant, mild, almost floral flavor. Honeydew is fantastic as part of a fruit salad, but its milder flavor also means it works great in savory preparations, too. Finely dice honeydew and toss with scallion, lime juice, cilantro, olive oil, and diced jalapeno peppers for a sweet & spicy salsa. Use as a garnish on fish, shellfish, or chicken, and prepare to be blown away.
For another savory take on this summer melon, we also love this Shaved Honeydew, Fennel, and Olive Salad.
From the outside, a ripe casaba looks a bit like a dried fig, with its puckered, brown-yellow exterior. The flesh inside, however, looks more like that of a honeydew and tastes like a mix between a cucumber and a crisp Asian pear. We like dicing casaba melon and blending it into a smoothie with a hint of lime juice, fresh mint, and grated ginger, for a refreshing, zesty green drink.
Also called a kiwano, the horned melon is named for its skin which has—you guessed it—spiky horns. The flesh resembles a pomegranate more than a watermelon, with its jelly-like consistency and large seeds. In terms of flavor, the ripe horned melon is compared to a cross between a kiwi or passionfruit and a banana.
We like adding scoops of horned melon to our fruit salads to lend a pop of color and fun, gel-like texture. Alternatively, you can make a fruity variation on your favorite salsa (or pico de gallo) recipe. Scoop the seeds of one-horned melon into a bowl and mix it with the juice of one lime; one clove of garlic, minced; one handful fresh cilantro, chopped; one green onion, chopped; and 1/4 teaspoon of cumin. Mix in 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Use as a garnish for meat, fish, or grilled vegetables, or as a spruced-up chip dip.
Sprite melons are the tiniest of the bunch—they’re about the size and shape of a grapefruit and have a firm, super sweet flesh somewhere between the texture of a honeydew and a pear. Fun fact: sprite melons are grown nearly exclusively in North Carolina, where they are considered a specialty state crop. Now that’s what we call local!
Because of its high sugar content, you’ll want to leave this one out of any savory recipes (sorry soups and salsas). But feel free to welcome it to the fruit salad party—it’ll feel right at home.
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