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.
A MEDLEY OF MELONS
Just a few melon facts:
Most melons fall into the category of "muskmelons", with the ex- ception of the
watermelon. As was explained in the previous article, 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.=20 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
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
Look for a clean stem end and raised netting as on a cantaloupe.
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.
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.
This melon has a tough, wrinkly rind that turns yellow when ripe. Fragrance is
absent in this melon.