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Definition: MELON from A Dictionary of Entomology

Noun. (Old French, melon < Latin, melonem, melopeponem = pumpkin < Greek, melopepon = gourd-apple. PL, Melons.) 1. Any of numerous fruits of gourd family with a hard rind and sweet, juicy flesh. 2. Any of various fruit of cucurbitaceous vines (cantaloupes; cucumbers; muskmelons; watermelons.)

Summary Article: MELONS
from Food and Drink in American History: A "Full Course" Encyclopedia

Melons are mainly members of the Cucurbitaceae family along with large edible fruit, such as watermelons (Citrullus lanatus), and muskmelons (Cucumis melo), such as cantaloupes, casabas, and honeydew. Most melons originated in Africa or Southern Asia, where they were cultivated in prehistoric times. Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans grew melons in the Mediterranean region, and European colonists introduced them into America.

Melons became an important component of the American diet, and as one visitor noted in 1770, during the season, melons were consumed any time of day by farmers and were sold extensively in farmers’ markets. Melons were eaten fresh and in salads and sauces. Most melons have a long shelf life and can be stored for long periods, but they were also pickled and dried for later use. Watermelon rinds were also pickled.

Melons are typically served with meals or as snacks; they are also juiced. For dessert, the seeds of cantaloupes were scooped out, and ice cream was placed in the center. When melons were in season, Melon frolics and fairs were held in which people ate melons and danced.

Today, melons are grown in most states. The centers of production are California, Arizona, and Texas.

See also Fruit; Watermelon

  • Goldman, Amy. Melons: For the Passionate Grower. Artisan New York, 2002.
  • Robinson, R. W.; D. S. Decker-Walters. Cucurbits. CAB International New York, 1999.
  • Copyright 2013 by Andrew F. Smith

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