Some Facts about Melons and Watermelons

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Watermelon-Melon_cThe cultivation of melon and watermelon began centuries ago. But today we love them just as much as our ancestors did. They are refreshing, tasty and very healthy, with a lot of vitamins. And also melons and watermelons make great summertime desserts, you can mix them with another fruit, juices and sweets.


By D. Weiss

The cultivation of watermelon dates back over 4,000 years and was depicted by early Egyptian artists. Europeans brought watermelon seeds to the west and American Indians began cultivating the melon by the middle of the 17th century. Today many varieties of water- melon have been developed including the popular seedless types. Varieties change from year to year and are bred for better flavor, disease resistance and other characteristics. Watermelons belong to the gourd family, Cucurbitaceae, which also includes cucumbers, squash, muskmelons and pumpkins. Fresh water- melon is refreshing, tasty and very healthy. It makes a great summertime dessert and if you are diet-conscious, one cup of water- melon has very few calories and zero fat.

Just a few melon facts:

Most melons fall into the category of "muskmelons", with the ex- ception of the watermelon. As was explained above, watermelons are actually members of the "gourd" family. More than two-thirds of all melons grown in the United States are grown in California. Melons are also imported from foreign countries such as Mexico and Chile. Most melons are very good sources of vitamin C, and those with orange or red flesh are rich sources of vitamin A. Half of a 5-inch cantaloupe has about 80 calories, while the same size honeydew wedge has about 50 calories and a wedge of watermelon twice as big has only 110 calories. (These are approximate figures.)

Varieties of melons

Cantaloupe

Choose melons that have a dry gray netting over a greenish-gold rind. A smooth scar at the stem in- dicates the melon was allowed to mature on the vine. Sniff for a sweet cantaloupe fragrance.

Persian

Look for a clean stem end and raised netting as on a cantaloupe.

Honeydew

Pick a melon with a creamy, greenish-ivory color and a smooth, waxy feel. There is no smooth stem end. Also sniff for a mild, sweet fragrance.

Crenshaw

Look for a smooth mottled-green rind that are turning golden and softening. There is a strong distinct melon fragrance present when melon is ready to eat.

Casaba

This melon has a tough, wrinkly rind that turns yellow when ripe. Fragrance is absent in this melon.


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