Santa Claus melons, also known as Christmas melons, are winter melons related to honeydew and casaba melons. The melon got its name in the United States because it was initially the only melon that was available in supermarkets during the Christmas season. This all changed once melons were imported from places like Spain, Israel, and Chile, which made many more kinds of melons available year-round. Today, Santa Claus melons are mainly grown in California.
The melons grow on long vines that prefer hot and dry climates. The fruit is larger than honeydew or cantaloupe and is oblong like a football. It can grow to be about a foot long and can weigh up to ten pounds. The rind of a Santa Claus melon is thick and green in color with speckles of yellow, making it look similar to a watermelon. Inside the melon is light green flesh like a honeydew and a center filled with seeds. The flesh is very juicy and tastes somewhat like a honeydew. However, these melons tend to be not as sweet as cantaloupe and honeydew.
Santa Claus melons are a bit more difficult to find than cantaloupes or honeydews. They may be available in your local supermarket, but a farmer's market would be your better bet. These melons are in season from July to December. When purchasing melons, look for ones with undamaged rinds with a slightly waxy feel. Melons with more yellow in their rinds and ones that weight at least five pounds are said to have the best flavor. The blossom end of the melon should also be a bit soft when pressed. Other melons often give off a fragrance when ripe, however Santa Claus melons do not give off a scent because of their thick rinds. The uncut melons have a superb shelf life and will keep for several months in the fridge.