Mellow Out With Sweet Melons

Mmmm, melons! Whether you are a watermelon, honeydew or cantaloupe fan, health benefits are offered by each and you can eat it as a snack, dessert or side.

Honeydew and cantaloupe contain the most vitamin C, compared to watermelon and crenshaw melons. Cantaloupe contains beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A. Watermelon has potassium, beta-carotene and lycopene. All of these melons contain fiber, which helps the body with digestion.

Melons keep between one to four days at room temperature. You can also preserve them longer by cutting the melon into cubes and refrigerating it in storage bins.

Cantaloupe is the most popular melon in the United States and is available all year. In Ohio, local cantaloupe is available between July and early October. When selecting a cantaloupe, make sure the skin’s “netting” is not green, because that indicates it will not reach full maturity. The stem-end of the melon should smell sweet, which indicates its ripeness.

Like cantaloupes, honeydew melons are also available year-round, but peak between May and October. The best way to tell if a honeydew melon is ripe is to smell the stem end; if it smells faintly of roses, it is ripe, but if there is no detectable scent, odds are there is no flavor, either.

Most people don’t know that watermelon is related to squash and cucumbers. They are in season in Ohio between late August and early October. Watermelons also contain lycopene, the cancer-fighting phytochemical for which tomatoes are also known. The only real way to tell a watermelon is ripe is to cut it open, which is why many people purchase pre-cut watermelon.