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The properties of melon

One of the classic summertime fruits, at least in Italy, is the melon. This fruit is distinguished by its many variants, which I shall discuss in the paragraph that follows. I want to highlight the fruit’s outstanding nutritional qualities. Melon actually contains high levels of vitamin C and K, as well as good amounts of potassium, calcium, and phosphorus. Melon provides only 33 kcal per 100 grammes, although it can be extremely sugary.

The plant is actually a climber that requires moist soil and a warm climate. The leaves are light, irregularly shaped, and very large. The ripening season varies depending on the variety, although it usually starts in May and ends in September. It has been widespread in Europe for more than two millennia, originating from Central Asia and subsequently imported first by the Egyptians and then by the Greeks.

Melon (also known as Cocumis Melo), a naturally occurring plant native to Guinea and India, is now widely grown throughout the world’s warm climates, including all of Europe. The fruits vary widely in shape, depending on the variety. Cantaloupe melons are spherical in shape with pronounced segments, large wrinkled skin, and yellow pulp. Reticulate melons are spherical-ovoid in shape, with rather thin skin on which there are network-shaped projections, with yellow, orange, or greenish pulp, and smooth melons have yellow pulp with a slightly reticulated, rather thin skin.

Most of the varieties are available from June to October. Avoid overly ripe, immature, mouldy, or bruised melons. Refrigerate melons if they are very ripe, and consume them as soon as possible. Wrap the cut melons in plastic film to prevent their aroma from permeating other foods in the refrigerator.

The numerous varieties of melon

As already mentioned, there are infinite varieties of melon. Below, I list the most common ones in Italy:

  • Cantaloupe. Its peel is greenish-grey, its orange pulp is quite firm, and its sweetness level is medium. In Italy, this is the most common variety.
  • Roundup. The skin is light grey with thin green streaks, covered by a fine mesh. The pulp is juicy and has citrus hints. The shape is circular, and the dimensions are frequently small.
  • Winter. A unique variety that ripens from September to November. It is small, has very soft, white flesh, and is noticeably delicious.
  • Sicilian yellow. Similar to the winter melon, but a little larger and sweeter. It is cultivated mainly in the western provinces of Sicily.
  • Inodorus. It has a white pulp and smooth skin; it is characterised by a certain firmness and medium sweetness.

A base for delicious recipes in the kitchen

Melon can be used in both sweet and savoury recipes. For example, it can create interesting combinations with ham (as a starter) or even with seafood. It can also be integrated into salads with acidic ingredients, such as cherry tomatoes.

Obviously, melons can also be used to make delicious creams, milkshakes, granitas, juices, and jams. We typically choose a variety with a hard pulp in this situation. The best way to consume it is in its raw state, perhaps at the end of a meal (or even just for a healthy snack or breakfast).