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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: Sweet Melon
From The Illustrated Cook's Book of Ingredients

Sweet or dessert melons are cultivated in hot, sunny regions around the world. The top melon-producing countries are China, Turkey, Iran, and the US. Melons vary in both color and shape, and range in size from single portions to those large enough to feed a crowd. The two main types are summer melons, which include those with a raised cross-hatched pattern or netting on the rind, and winter melons, which have a smooth or finely ridged yellow rind and pale flesh. In all sweet melons, the juicy flesh encloses a central cavity filled with pointed seeds.


Press the end opposite the stem: if the melon is ripe, this should yield readily. The melon should also feel heavy for its size and give off a pleasant aroma through the skin. If it smells too musky it may be overripe. The rind should be thick and unblemished.


If you need to ripen a melon further, keep it at room temperature. Ripe melons are best kept in a cool, airy place, but can be stored in the refrigerator, wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to a week. Open-freeze balls or cubes, or freeze in syrup.


Remove seeds and eat halved, or in balls, chunks, or wedges. Note that chilling most melons makes them more refreshing but diminishes the flavor. Add to fruit salads, salsas, sorbets, and chilled soups.


Briefly sauté in savory dishes.


Make into jam.

Flavor pairings

Poultry, smoked or cured meats, seafood, cheese, tropical fruit, raspberries, cucumber, coconut milk, ginger, pepper, mint.

Classic recipes

Melon and prosciutto; chilled melon soup.


The Ambrosia is a highly perfumed, hybrid cantaloupe with pale, netted skin and a relatively small seed cavity. Serve it fresh or in a fruit salad.


An exceptionally large summer melon, this has a pointed stem end, smooth, lightly ribbed skin, and seductively spicy, salmon-pink flesh. Eat as a dessert on its own or with vanilla ice cream.


This is a large winter melon with a slightly corrugated, bright yellow rind and refreshing, crisp, green-white flesh. The aroma is strong and pleasing. Serve it on its own or as part of a festive fruit platter.


The green ribs on the netted rind of this round summer melon make it look as if it comes ready sectioned. With its tender, apricot-orange flesh and its heady and delicious fragrance, this is a gorgeous dessert melon.


A honeydew-cantaloupe cross, the Galia is small and spherical with a raised pattern of fine netting. The creamy, light green flesh is spicy-sweet with a lovely aroma. Eat as a dessert.


Also known as muskmelon and netted melon, this summer melon has a rind covered with a pattern of raised netting. The pale orange flesh is sweet and juicy. Serve for a breakfast treat.


The best known winter melon, Honeydew has a smooth, pale yellow or yellow-green rind and ivory-colored flesh. It is the classic choice for melon boat appetizers.


The ogen has a yellow-green, lightly netted skin with striped sections. Sweet and aromatic, it can be enjoyed on its own or paired with cured meats.

Piel de Sapo

This popular Spanish variety has a thick, rough-ridged, dark green skin and crisp, pale, refreshing flesh. Eat it on its own or serve with smoked ham.

Classic recipe
Melon and Prosciutto

For this popular Italian summer appetizer, use a perfectly ripe melon and paper-thin slices of ham.

Serves 4

  • 1 medium-size ripe, sweet melon, such as cantaloupe or honeydew
  • 3–4oz (100g) thinly sliced prosciutto, such as Parma ham
  1. Cut the melon into four quarters and remove the seeds. Use a sharp knife to slice the flesh away from the rind.

  2. Wrap the prosciutto around the melon, or serve the two ingredients alongside each other on individual plates. The melon is best served at room temperature.

© 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

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