Melons come in many varieties. Aside from the more familiar red watermelon and the orange cantaloupe, the cucurbits plant family, which all melons belong to, also include the honeydew melon.
The honeydew’s shape is oval. You can distinguish it from the other melons by its smooth light yellow skin and its pastel green flesh. As its name suggests, the honeydew’s taste is sweet and succulent. In fact, it is known as the sweetest variety of melon. Taste, however, is just one of the honeydew’s worthy qualities, since it possesses many others as these facts would suggest:
- The ancient Egyptians regarded the honeydew as sacred and it was only reserved for society’s elite. Famous historical figures who loved the fruit include Cleopatra, Napoleon Bonaparte and Pope Paul II. Fortunately, widespread cultivation of honeydew has made it available for everyone today.
- In China, the honeydew is called the Bailan melon or the Wallace melon. When former U.S. Vice President Henry Wallace visited China in the early 1940’s, he distributed melon seeds to the local farmers; thus, he is said to be the one who first introduced the honeydew to China.
- Compared with other melons, honeydews require a relatively longer growing season. Even after picking, they continue to ripen; hence, unripe melons should be stored at room temperature. Once ripe, though, honeydews should be stored in the refrigerator and consumed within 2 to 3 days.
- The degree of honeydew’s sweetness depends on when it was harvested. Melons that are allowed to ripen on the vine and picked just before it is fully mature have the best flavor. Since the fruits contain their highest sugar content at this time, they are very sweet when eaten.
- A less common type of honeydew has an orange-colored flesh.
- Honeydew melons are best enjoyed fresh – as a snack, tossed into salads or made into desserts or fruit-flavored drinks and sauces. They are rarely utilized as ingredients for cooking or baking.
- The sweetness and flavor of the honeydew goes well with cottage cheese, sweet cream, mint or lime.
- Honeydew is an ideal snack if you are trying to lose weight. It is has zero fat and cholesterol, is low in sodium and high in Vitamin C. A half cup of diced honeydew melon has 60 calories.
- The main nutrients found in honeydew melon include the B vitamins, niacin and thiamine, Vitamin C, copper and potassium. Regular consumption of honeydew melons can improve overall health, particularly, a stronger immune system and smoother, more radiant skin.