As part of the cucurbit family (say that 10 times fast!), most folks don't know that melons are second cousins to cucumbers. Well-known varieties include watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew. While those are popular, there are countless melon cultivars.
Currently on Barn2Door, we’re featuring quite the selection. From Gopher and Gris Melons, to Crimson Sweet Watermelon and Canary Melons, there are plenty of fresh-from-the-field heirloom varieties.
A bit of backstory.
Originally from Africa and southwest Asia, melons began gracing tabletops across Europe around the end of the Roman Empire. Fun fact: while melons today are technically botanical fruit (i.e. berries), some varieties are considered vegetables. Back when melons were first being exported across the Mediterranean basin via Egyptians, the “fruit” was consumed as a vegetable, likely salted, peppered, and sprinkled over salads.
Did you know?
Melon was once considered a symbol of fertility (likely due to its massive quantity of seeds). It’s an annual plant—meaning, melons finish their life cycle in one year. You can easily save seeds from your favorite melon(s) - rinse, let dry and plant the following year! Almost all parts of the melon (fruit, seed, leaves and roots) are included within traditional Chinese medicine. Certain ancient rulers, such as Tutankhamen, were buried with the seeds of melons.
Good, and good for you.
High in nutritional value, melons enhance any meal with vitamin C, vitamin B, potassium, manganese, iron and phosphorus. They’re helpful for deducing the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and some cancers. Plus, they’re low in calories, making for a sweet treat that’s actually good for you.
The perfect pick.
When choosing a melon, look for one that’s heavy for it’s size (the heavier, the juicier). Skip melons that are piled on top of each other, as this can damage the fruit. To see if a melon is ripe, smell it at the stem end. If it’s sweet and musky scented, you’re good to go. Another way to check for ripeness: press on the end opposite the stem end, and see if it gives. One of our farmers told us testing melons is like testing avocados - around the end should be soft when pressed and not push back. In fact the petit gris start to look overripe / discolored once they are finally ready to open.