The melons, members of the gourd family, can be divided into two subcategories: muskmelons and watermelons. The muskmelons can be further subdivided into rough-skinned and smooth-skinned varieties.

The rough-skinned muskmelons include the cantaloupe, yellow on the outside and orange on the inside, and the Persian, a larger, grey-green melon. The smooth-skinned varieties include the honeydew of cream-colored shell and green flesh; the large, yellow-rinded Crenshaw, and the pale yellow Casaba.

Watermelons, actually a relative of the cucumber, are usually green on the outside and deep red on the inside. They can range in weight from a mere 5-pound spheroid to well over 100 pounds. Certain "seedless" varieties exist; these are not truly seedless, but contain small white undeveloped seeds instead of the inedible black seeds of the "normal" melon.


Melons tend to be at their peak in late summer and early fall. Watermelons start to get good in June and tend to stop in September in most places. Locally grown cantaloupes can be found starting in early July. Honeydews can be found from July to October, overlapping the August-September season of the Crenshaw and the September-October availability of the casaba.

In general: They should smell sweet, but if you're standing in front of a tableful, it's hard to tell if the individual melon in your hand is the one with the lovely fragrance. The other myth is that the blossom end will be soft in a ripe melon; however, everyone before you has heard the same thing and an unripe melon may have a soft spot from all those people pushing it to test.

Cantaloupes: When locally grown, look under the webbing for orange to yellow-orange color. If not local, just make sure they're not squishy.

Honeydew: The color is the most important; they should be yellow to yellowish-green. The skin should be relatively smooth, and shouldn't be spotty.

Casabas and Crenshaws: should have no green showing. Since the Crenshaw is usually sold in halves, you should be able to just tell by looking at the flesh (which should be pale pink].

Watermelons: are tricky. Some people will tell you that they shouldn't have stems, or the stems should be dried. These people are wrong. Not that you should run out and buy only watermelons with stems attached, but it's just not a reliable method. People also tell you to avoid those with yellow bottoms. This is just a result of its being on the ground while it's growing. The most reliable method is to thump FIRMLY on the rind; it should sound just barely hollow. Too hollow means it's green; too dull means it's overripe. Got that?

I said it was tricky...


Cantaloupes will ripen if bought green; if so, store them at room temperature until they're orange. Afterwards, they'll keep in the refrigerator for about a week, preferably wrapped so as not to absorb odors.

Casabas and Crenshaws will also ripen in the open, provided they are whole. Honeydews should immediately go in the fridge. Watermelons can be left out for a few days in a cool, reasonably dark area if whole and refrigerated if cut. (For that matter, any cut melon should be refrigerated.) Watermelon also freezes well in chunks; those chunks can be later pureed into slush which is nice in the summer.

Invaluable help provided by LadySun and by Irena Chalmers' The Great Food Almanac.

In the old days this skateboard trick was called a Melancholy (probably because it rhymed well with ollie). It refers to a simple backside grab trick.

While you are getting a reasonable amount of air off a drop or on a ramp bend up your legs and reach back with your front hand and grab the heel edge of your board somewhere between the trucks. If you have plenty of hangtime tuck your trailing leg and extend your front leg like with a tailgrab. Pull back and watch your center of gravity for the landing. Snowboarders (of which I am not) do the trick the same way pushing off the tail of the board and grabbing their heel edge between the bindings.

For variations of this basic grab, tuck in the front knee and bone your trailing leg for a Mosquito. If you don't tuck at all and keep the chin-to-knee line flat you get a Method (arch further back for more difficulty). On a snowboard grab the heel edge with both hands for a Flying Squirrel (I wouldn't try it on a skateboard).

This move is easy to spin on a vert ramp, so you'll see plenty of 360 degree frontside melons.

If you know the true story of the name I'd like to add it here

Mel"on (?), n. [F., fr. L. melo, for melopepo an apple-shaped melon, Gr. ; apple + a species of large melon; cf. L. malum apple. Cf. Marmalade.]

1. Bot.

The juicy fruit of certain cucurbitaceous plants, as the muskmelon, watermelon, and citron melon; also, the plant that produces the fruit.

2. Zool.

A large, ornamental, marine, univalve shell of the genus Melo.

Melon beetle Zool., a small leaf beetle (Diabrotiea vittata), which damages the leaves of melon vines. -- Melon cactus, Melon thistle. (a) Bot. A genus of cactaceous plants (Melocactus) having a fleshy and usually globose stem with the surface divided into spiny longitudinal ridges, and bearing at the top a prickly and woolly crown in which the small pink flowers are half concealed. M. communis, from the West Indies, is often cultivated, and sometimes called Turk's cap. (b) The related genus Mamillaria, in which the stem is tubercled rather than ribbed, and the flowers sometimes large. See Illust. under Cactus.


© Webster 1913.

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