Melons belong to the Cucurbit family, which includes cucumbers, pumpkins, gourds and squash. There are two categories of melons - watermelons and muskmelons. Watermelons range in size and shape from miniature balls to 20- to 30-pound oblong melons, with or without seeds. Muskmelons contain a central cavity filled with seeds. There are three basic skin types - ridged, meshed or smooth.


  • Part of the muskmelon variety, it is filled with seeds and thick, colourful flesh under a thin skin.
  • Look for cantaloupes with dull yellow or golden backgrounds and raised, light tan-coloured netting on the surface. They should be firm, yet yield slightly to gentle pressure.
  • Great for making a refreshing melon soup or a cantaloupe bowl in which to serve cottage cheese or yogourt.


  • The casaba is a pumpkin-shaped muskmelon with a flavour comparable to squash.
  • Green in the skin indicates an unripe casaba. Look for melons with a golden-yellow skin, except at the stem end, which might have a greenish cast.
  • It's hard to tell if this melon is ripe by smell or feel as the skin is thick. To tell if it's ripe, buy one that's been cut. The flesh should be a pale yellow colour.
  • Casaba makes a tasty addition to green salads.


  • This large muskmelon should weigh at least five pounds. Its skin comes in two colours - greenish gold and creamy white.
  • A fully ripe Crenshaw will be very fragrant, with a blossom end that yields to gentle pressure.
  • Once cut and placed in the refrigerator, a Crenshaw will stop ripening. Its flavour is described as spicy-sweet.
  • For a quick appetizer, skewer pieces of your favourite cheese along with Crenshaw melon chunks or balls.


  • Part of the muskmelon variety, these melons are large and slightly oval shaped and weigh at least five pounds on average.
  • A ripe honeydew smells like a sweet flower, has a creamy white colour and velvety feeling skin. Unripe honeydew will have no aroma and a smooth, slick texture. Don't buy bruised, pale-green or canary-yellow coloured melons.
  • Honeydew is great paired with salami or ham.


  • Named for its high water content - over 90% - watermelon is one of two main melon categories. In arid climates where water supplies are scarce, watermelons are the ultimate thirst quencher.
  • Select whole watermelons that are symmetrical in shape, heavy for their size and free of bruises, cuts and dents.
  • A ripe watermelon will have a creamy yellow spot on its underside where it sat on the ground during ripening. Avoid those with a white spot as this indicates the melon was picked early.
  • Refrigerate whole watermelon for up to 1 week. Not only doesit taste better cold, but chilling prevents the flesh from becoming dry and fibrous.
  • Refrigerate cut watermelon in plastic wrap or airtight plastic containers for up to 2 days.


  • All melons, no matter what variety, should feel heavy for their size, be free of dents and bruises and have dry rinds. Ripe cantaloupes have a sweet, musky, aroma, and a tan to creamy brown coloured rind. Watermelons should have pale, yellow bottoms and dull, not waxy skin.
  • Thumping a watermelon is not a good indicator of ripeness.
  • A leading indicator of ripeness is smell. The melon should have a sweet aroma.
  • To test for ripeness, look at the pale spot on the bottom to ensure it's yellow, not white. If it's white, it means the melon was picked too early. Or, scratch the surface of the rind with your thumbnail. If the outer layer slips back with little resistance, the melon is ripe.


  • Store both ripe cut and uncut melons wrapped in plastic in the refrigerator. This will prevent melon aromas from permeating other foods and vice versa.
  • Slightly unripe melons can stand at room temperature for a few days to further develop flavour, aroma and texture.
  • Whole ripe melons will last about a week in the fridge and cut ones about 2 to 3 days.



  • To remove the skin from a cleaned melon, cut a thin slice from both ends. Stand melon up on one of flattened ends. Using a sharp, thin-bladed knife, slice off skin in strips from top to bottom. Rotate melon until all skin has been removed. Cut melon in half and remove seeds with a spoon. This method will work for most muskmelons. See how to peel a melon.
  • Cutting through the rind of an unwashed melon can draw bacteria from the surface into the flesh. Be sure to rinse the entire outside of melon with tap water before cutting to remove any surface dirt.

Melon Balls

  • Melon balls are a perfect decorative touch in salads or desserts. After cutting open a melon, remove the seeds and insert melon baller, pressing scoop end into the flesh. Press down until juice starts to come out of the small hole in bottom of scoop. Then, twist the tool like an ice-cream scoop to produce round balls of fruit rather than imperfect half moons. See how to make melon balls.

Melon Bowl

  • Make a beautiful melon bowl. Using a sharp paring knife, carefully cut a zigzag pattern around the centre and gently pull the melon apart. No need to use a large, awkward knife - muskmelons are hollow so a small knife will do the trick. Scoop out the seeds and some of the flesh to make a decorative bowl for salads or desserts.

Melon Math

  • 3 lb. muskmelon is equal to:
    - 6 cups diced melon
    - 6 (1-cup) servings
  • 1/2 watermelon (8 lb.) is equal to:
    - 16 cups diced melon
    - 16 (1-cup) servings