31. A strange, yet specific, number depicting how many different types of melon there are out there.
Actually, this is just the number of all the melons we know about along with their history, tastes, buy-ability and origin. However, there are in fact hundreds of various breeds, sub-breeds and hybrid breeds of melon around the world that have either adapted naturally or been brought together in a lab.
And, here at The Hobby Kraze, we wanted to go a little more in depth into the juicy world of melons so you can go for a tasty adventure without needing to leave the comfort of your own home. Hopefully, our team can help introduce you to a new melon colour or an interesting taste of melon around the world you may have never even considered.
For example: did you know that the Japanese Densuke Melon is one of the rarest and most expensive melons in the world? Melon fruit is one of those strange Earthy pieces of goodness that can take you across continents just for a taste of something new, a literal taste. While you may need to invest in the stock market and sell a kidney to get a bite, the Densuke Melons often show up at auctions in Japan for around $4,000 USD each.
In this article, we’ll be touching on everything from what makes a melon a melon, to sorting through all the 31 types of melon around the world by continent.
- What is a Melon Fruit?
- What Can You Do with the Taste of Melon?
- The 6 African Melon Fruits
- The 17 Asian Melon Fruits
- The 5 European Melon Fruits
- The 2 North American Melons Fruits
- The 1 Oceanic Melon Fruit
- The 2 South American Melon Fruits
It wouldn’t be an article from The Hobby Kraze if we didn’t get to debunk a myth here or there. Luckily, the wise world of the different types of melon has a few.
Our favourite myth is called “The Gendered Watermelon”. Don’t be fooled by the name, the myth applies to all melon fruits out there. But it is still a myth, none-the-less.
The belief in many circles is that watermelons with a log shape and a watery taste can be classified as ‘boy watermelons’ while watermelons with a spherical body and sweet taste of melon can be classified as ‘girl watermelons’. While it is a fun analogy, it’s unfortunately false.
There are, however, male and female watermelon flowers. The difference being that the female watermelon flowers grow the watermelons, themselves. And the male watermelon plants carry the pollen ready for any buzzing bees out there.
What is a Melon Fruit?
Most of the world’s different types of melon originated on the African and Middle Eastern Continents before cultivating across the globe in various temperate locations offering rich soils and new sweet tastes. One of which is China.
In 2018, alone, the global melon market was recorded to value around $27.4 billion USD due to a vast increase of demand throughout China. There are around 33 million tonnes of melon fruits being cultivated annually. And, unsurprisingly, with China having the highest consumption levels of 17 million tonnes per year (ten times the second largest melon fruit consumer), they’re also the biggest producer and export.
Diverting to the science of things, a melon is a type of blooming flower fruit plant called Cucurbitaceae. They typically create a sweet and edible fruit harbouring its own thick sleeve protecting it from surrounding insects or parasites.
As well as this, you’ll need to be careful around green-thumbed botanical individuals or even farmers as the word ‘melon’ refers to both the fruit that grows and the plant, itself.
What Can You Do with the Taste of Melon?
Melon isn’t just a one-hit-wonder when it comes to the taste of melon and all the different ways you can enjoy its juicy goodness.
While the nutritional value of each breed of melon will vary slightly, 100g of the average melon contains only 34 calories. However, in this 100g, you’ll also find yourself ingesting a world of benefits with 67% of your daily recommended intake of Vitamin A and a further 61% of the recommended amount of Vitamin C.
With this, and with it being a mostly water-based fruit, the melon fruit has such a wide variety of yummy uses you’ve probably never even thought of. For example, have you ever heard of watermelon steak?
Here’s a small list of all the different things you can do with melon around the world:
- Melon Balls
- Sumer Fruits Drinks
- Grilled Melon Steak
- Fruit Salad
- Pickled Melon
- Fizzy Melon Pop
- Melon Ice Cream
- Melon Lollies
- Melon-Topped Pizza
- Watermelon Cake
The 6 African Melon Fruits
Despite being a water-based fruit, melon thrives in tropical and subtropical environments that don’t necessarily contain much of a water supply such as the regions of Africa close to the equator and Saharan regions. So, have a look at the various different types of melon fruit you can indulge in when exploring the regions of Africa on a backpacking journey.
To learn more about backpacking and taking the first step out of the door, flick through our “Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Backpacking”.
Interestingly, ‘ananas’ is both the French and German word for ‘pineapple’ and there is no coincidence. The Ananas Melon has this distinct name due to its particularly sweet and tangy flavour akin to the pineapple fruit. Originating from the Northern areas of Africa, this melon has a distinct creamy-yellow colour and is said to have been introduced into the US in the 18th century with Tomas Jefferson, himself, growing the Ananas Melon fruit in his Monticello gardens.
Belonging to a family of muskmelons where the taste of melon is sweet and musky, the Honeydew Melon is an unmissably bright white colour with a hint of green thrown into the mix to make it look almost unripe. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth as a ripe Honeydew Melon – which grows to around 4kg – has one of the highest natural sugar contents when taken from the vine.
Horned Melon (Kiwano Melon)
Given this name because of the spikes on its back, the Horned Melon is a relatively small breed of the melon fruit family. Distinctly adorned, this melon has a very bright yellow skin which, when broken, reveals a jelly-like substance resembling that of a zucchini or cucumber. In other regions, this melon takes the name of the Kiwano Melon and derives from the Southern parts of Africa to bring us a tart vegetable taste with a hint of sweetness.
Maroon Cucumber Melon
Another indigenous melon fruit to Africa, the Marron Cucumber Melon looks like someone took a normal cucumber and squished it into the shape of a grape with the melon colour of a cucumber and the spikes of a dragon fruit; it’s a bit of a mixed bag. However, when it comes to the taste of the Maroon Cucumber Melon, it also resembles a small and watery cucumber. So, there’s not much to the imagination but it is a very popular addition to the evening meal of vegetable lovers around the world. P.S. the Maroon Cucumber Melon also takes the name of: Bur Gherkin, Gooseberry Gourd, Crackrey, Maxixe and West Indian Gourd.
The most common types of melon to come to mind in a conversation about these sweet and water-y balls of goodness is the Watermelon. Very popular in the US, the Watermelon actually originates and cultivates throughout West Africa. Being 97% water, this type of melon can be one of the most refreshing and sweet within drinks and on a hot Summer’s day. But it’s not just the Americans drinking sweet watermelon nectar throughout the hot seasons, it’s actually the most referred-to melon around the world.
Taking a complete side-step from the Watermelon, it takes us to the Winter Melon looking nothing like its cousin. This type of melon is long, thin, grows down akin to grapes and has a melon colour of green without any of the typical stripe features. In fact, the Winter Melon has white spots all over it. Despite this drastic difference in appearance, the Winter Melon is a very popular appetiser in China within soup as a mild yet sweet addition.
The 17 Asian Melon Fruits
While Africa may have been the home to all melons once upon a time, cultivation of melon around the world has taken a shine across the Asian continent with China, Japan and India taking the lead. Have a look at all 16 of the different types of melon you could take a bite of with a trip around the Asian wonders:
This Malaysia-born melon fruit is a vibrant yellow that can accompany any dish. It has a very high-water content and is known to taste of melon fruit comparable to the similar-looking Golden Langkawai Melon which is a fresh and sweet taste without a stringy texture.
Very similar to the melon colour, look, smell, size and taste of the Honeydew Melon, the Bailan Melon is a Chinese-born cultivation. Native to the Gansu province, the Bailan Melon has a very light colour yet can be grown with greens, whites, oranges or yellows in the flesh to make it a vibrant addition to the platter.
Bitter Melon, despite the namesake for the taste, is a very popular melon around the world due to the researched health benefits. This long, green and stubbly melon closely resembles the cucumber family of fruit and typically grows more bitter as it ripens. However, doctors have found a link between the consumption of the Bitter Melon and lowered blood sugar, making it a natural staple for those with diabetes.
Mainly available throughout the Winter and Summer months, the Casaba Melon is very closely related to the Cantaloupe. While looking like a lemon puckering after tasting its own bitter juices, the taste of melon in the case of the Casaba is relatively sweet and mild. One thing to note: although the Casaba Melon is native to Asia, it is commonly grown around South America and holds a fantastic shelf life for imports of melon around the world.
The Crenshaw Melon is a hybrid cultivated by mixing the Persian and Casaba Melon. And, although it originated in Iran, it is another melon largely produced, sold and eaten in other regions such as India and Afghanistan. As a hybrid born out of finding the perfect melon, there’s no surprise it has a much-loved sweetness to the taste of melon with a hint of spice at the end of a bite.
Thinking back to the start of this article, you may remember this being one of the most rare and expensive of the different types of melon while originating from Japan. In fact, it is one of three in this article that have been given such great value. Here’s why; the Densuke Watermelon is not grown often, making them a rarity. Not only this, but their strikingly black and smooth surface with a sweet and crunchy red centre makes them a marvel on the eyes and tastebuds, too.
The Gac Melon was a melon grown to ward off potential eaters like us. However, being able to bypass the spikes, we can enjoy the blood-orange melon colour and mild – yet nutty – taste of melon. Often cultivated throughout Vietnam, this attractive melon can only be harvested once a year but holds the properties of a superfruit due to the flooding antioxidants.
Also known as the Sarda Melon throughout South-East Asia, this melon fruit is a hybrid melon developed in Israel by a man named Dr Karchi. Interestingly, Karchi proceeded to name the new melon fruit after his daughter whose name means ‘God’s wave’ in the Hebrew language. In terms of the Galia taste of melon, it’s very sweet and aromatic, especially after the skin has yellowed and ripened.
Golden Langkawai Melon
These melons have no mystery to their name. While small, these rotund melons turn from a white colour into a beautiful golden yellow melon colour within 35 days of seeding. This melon around the world is also known by the name of ‘Golden Honeydew’ simply due to the similar sweetness. However, its superior growth means it can even thrive when grown in a windowsill plant pot.
Jade Dew Melon
Characteristically, the Jade Dew Melon has a crunchy consistency, green outer cover, white inside juice and a very sweet taste of melon. However, what makes this particular melon stand out is its natural ability to resist pesticides alongside many plant viruses and diseases out there. This particular melon also goes by Jade Delight and is a type of Honeydew typically cultivating throughout Eastern Asia.
Also known in the melon-loving community as ‘Thumba’, these small thumb-sized and thumb-shaped balls of spikes are a much-loved delicacy throughout India. Their melon fruit roots dwindle as they have a more bitter taste of melon similar to the Bitter breed. However, it is a fantastic accompaniment to many curries and has core nutritional values such as: Vitamin C, folate and fibre.
Unsurprisingly, the Korean Melon originates throughout Korea and some areas of Japan. However, surprisingly, this melon fruit is a very delicate breed unlike other varieties of melon around the world. They have a bright yellow outer layer that offers little protection, a very white and juicy centre, deep grooves within the outer layer and high susceptibility to sun burn or bruises. The Korean Melon is also known in other areas as the Sun Jewel or Oriental Melon.
New Century Melon
Native to Taiwan and North-Western China, this sweet melon has a thick and dark green outer layer with the same skin veining as their Cantaloupe cousins. However, the taste of melon with the New Century breed is far sweeter with a 14% sugar content rate making this a natural-born fighter when it comes to plant diseases. In fact, this type of melon is very popular in the global market, so you might not have far to travel for the sweet delect.
A common go-to for farmers and scientists who wish to create new hybrid breeds of melon, the Persian Melon is native to the – now – country of Iran. In terms of looks and characteristics, the melon colour is yellow with dark green grooves running down the outer layer. Inside, the melon is a very deep orange with the watery and sweet sponge layer we love to sink our teeth into.
The Sprite Melon is said to be a hybrid melon cultivated with an extra 30% of the natural sugars from its Honeydew Melon predecessor to make for the perfect fresh dessert. Originating in Japan, this little melon is different to any other melon in the world in that it has a smooth and ivory outer layer that browns while it ripens and cuts open to show an equally flabbergasting ivory centre.
Ten Me Melon
Another hybrid breed of melon packed with flavour and nutrition; the Japanese melon cultivators have been hard at work. With this, the Ten Me Melon is second to the Densuke Watermelon in terms of value and expense. While small, this melon grows from modest vines and plums out into a vibrant and green melon with a fragrance so sweet before it has even been opened.
Yubari King Melon
Marking the third in the series of extraordinarily expensive hybrid melons to originate from the farming centres of Japan. The Yabari King Melon is the world’s most expensive melon with some selling on auction for $22,500 USD. They are grown in a small greenhouse town named Hokkaido as a hybrid of muskmelon Cantaloupe species for their unique sweet and spicy crunch.
The 5 European Melon Fruits
Here in the heart of Europe, we’re also quite the connoisseurs for cultivating the many different types of melon as well as bringing a hybrid taste of melon to the mix, too. With varied farming methods from Spain to France, it brings a wealth of new sweetness, texture and melon colour for us to feast our eyes and bellies upon.
The Camouflage Melon is given its name due to the indistinct Earthy green colour of its outer layer helping it blend into both the green shrubbery and brown soils. Oblong in shape, it is the only melon around the world to have its melon colour. In fact, in its origin language of Spanish, it is given the name of ‘Piel de Sapo’ which aptly translates to ‘skin of toad’. In terms of taste of, it is simply a mild and sweet dessert resembling the Honeydew Melon.
Also dubbed the ‘Spanish Melon’ for its origin, the Canary Melon fruit brings a new and exclusive tang to the table. Its bright yellow body is rather large and could do with a face-lift but embraces each wrinkle proudly. Inside, it opens up to an equally bright white crisp sorbet centre. Notably, despite the origins throughout Spain, the Canary Melon around the world is most likely to be seen cultivating in the Southern states of North America.
Certainly a favourite among the team here in The Hobby Kraze office, cantaloupe is a standard grocery store staple. What’s most interesting about this cantaloupe is how the different styles of cultivation can bring about a very different melon colour. For example: although originating throughout Europe, Cantaloupes grown in California have a dark green body and deep orange sorbet, yet those still grown in Europe share the symbolic lime outer-layer and similarly green centre with veining surrounding. Despite the differences, all Cantaloupes are favourited due to their watery sweetness.
Heading to the French provinces bring us to the Charentais Melon. This melon fruit is a Cantaloupe-type closely resembling that which cultivates in the American regions. It features a light green skin with a veined surface as well as darker green grooves running from top to bottom. Cutting it open, the melon colour shifts to a striking orange with a sweet flavour. Despite being a young breed originating just over a century ago, it is now commonly cultivated throughout North Africa.
The final melon stemming from European soil is the Valencia Melon and is another Spanish growth. The most notable feature of this melon is its thick dark green outer shell making it impervious to insects or nearby rot and a perfect melon for Winter storage. As well as this, it holds an exceptional taste of melon unlike any other melon around the world as the sweetness is accompanied by a dash of ginger. Making it one for the bucket list.
The 2 North American Melons Fruits
In North America, there are only two different types of melon believed to have originated in their soil. This is most likely down to the temperature and soil differences between the Asian, African and American continents. However, with that, let us introduce the Banana and Crane Melon fruits:
The Banana Melon is one of the best examples of naturally occurring evolution within plants and fruits. While other melons were being grown in the US region, the Banana Melon sprouted its vines in the late 19th century and has since thrived. Unlike many other melons around the world, the Banana Melon is much more of a savoury delight. P.S. you can probably guess why they’re called Banana Melons.
As an heirloom to the US, farmers cultivated this melon in the warmer climates of California throughout the early 20th century, making it one of the newest different types of melon on the market. This melon fruit is a hybrid of Persian Melons among others resonating from Japan. Unfortunately, not many get to discover the unique sweet tastes of the Crane Melon as the capacity for shelf life after harvesting isn’t enough to be distributed to a shop. However, the seeds can be bought for home-growing experiments.
For more information on how to grow foods and plants at home, take a look at this article: “The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Aquascaping and Hydroponics”.
The 1 Oceanic Melon Fruit
Of course, there are so many other truly amazing and wonderful things that come out of Australia, New Zealand and the other Oceania islands, such as their actors. So, we can’t blame them for only having the one melon breed to share with the world. Take a look at the Sky-Rocket Melon fruit.
Dropping from long green vines is the Sky-Rocket Melon resembling both the traditional Honeydew and much-loved Cantaloupe. Interestingly, this taste of melon is said to be sweeter the heavier it grows rather than more watery or mild. These different types of melon can grow within 65 or 85 days for harvest and can become as heavy as 2.5kg.
The 2 South American Melon Fruits
Much like North America, South America is known for cultivating just two different types of melon crops. Notably so in Mexico due to the temperate conditions. While they grow many different breeds of melon found all over the world, there are just the two natives to this global region. A fun fact, however, is that a Chilean plant named Solanum Muricatum grows a fruit resembling a honeydew but is actually a sweet cucumber.
Native to Brazil, the Casabanana Melon fruit is a beautiful red oblong fruit growing along long ornamental vines. By translation, this melon is homegrown. And, while it might say ‘banana’ within its name, it has nothing to do with bananas apart from their shape. Stunningly, a large yellow flower blooms from the end of the Casabanana Melon and features an outer layer so thick, it needs opening with a machete.
Completely the opposite to the Casabanana Melon, the Cucamelon has a green outer skin, is small akin to a grape and has an outer layer resembling a ripened Watermelon. Inside, however, the Cucamelon colour is a light green and closely resembles a small cucumber or pickle with a vegetable-like taste.
They’re juicy, they’re delicious and they’re everywhere. The taste of melon is surely on your mind after that trip around the world in 80 scrolls. So, where will you venture to for your next melon fruit discovery?
To learn more about our world and all the amazing aspects waiting just around the corner, stay with The Hobby Kraze. Our team are always bringing new and exciting guides to the world from the healing practices of yoga to the interesting finds of fossils, there’s always something new to discover.
Don’t forget to share your thoughts with the team on social media, we’d love to hear from you! Alternatively, take a read of another blog that might take your fancy while we’re on the topic of water(melons): “Wandering Through Earth’s 18 Different Types of Waterfalls”.