There are hundreds of varieties of melons, however, the four most popular in New Zealand are watermelon, honeydew, prince melon and rockmelon (also known as cantaloupe).
Rockmelon [Merengi rāka] is the only one with orange-coloured pigments and therefore contains some of the same key components and delivers similar health benefits as other yellow/orange vegetables.
Watermelon has smooth, green skin, and dark-pink juicy flesh with dark brown to black, flat glossy seeds. Seedless varieties are available. Skin colour varies with variety; some varieties have pale green skins and/or stripes. Yellow flesh varieties are also sometimes available.
A soft peach-coloured flesh that has a distinctive aroma and sweet smooth musky flavour. Rockmelons are smaller than watermelons and have a coarsely netted skin.
Honeydew (white melon)
This melon is slightly elongated and has smooth greenish/white skin with a pale green/cream flesh.
Prince melon (Derishi)
This melon has smooth cream/green skin and green or orange-coloured flesh. It has a sweet full flavour.
Similar to a rockmelon although the netting is finer and the flesh is a pale green. It has a mild, sweet flavour. Green and red netted varieties are available. (Netted melon not shown)
What to look for
Watermelon: To choose a watermelon, tap it lightly. The area where the melon sat on the ground (the belly spot), should be a bright yellow to orange when mature. However, the belly spot will fade if exposed to sunlight. Tapping the melon and obtaining a ringing sound is a sign of maturity whereas a dull, hollow sound can indicate over-maturity. If purchasing cut watermelon, look for pieces with a thin rind and firm, bright coloured flesh.
Rockmelon and green netted: These melons have a porous skin and the exotic aroma is the best indication of ripeness. The melons should be firm with no signs of soft spots or mould on the skin as this indicates over-ripeness.
Honeydew and prince: When ripe these melons will yield gently to pressure at the flower end, not the stem end.
Avoid any melons that are soft, bruised or damaged.
Available: January to March
Ripen at room temperature and store in the refrigerator. Cut surfaces should be covered with cling film. Use promptly.
How to prepare
Slice in half, remove seeds and slice into portions, can be peeled. Slice watermelon in half, then into portions. Seeds are not generally removed.
Ways to eat
Serve melons chilled as a fruit dessert or as a snack. Use in salads, both sweet and savoury, and as the base for drinks and garnishes. Click here for recipes.
Melons have a high water content and are very low in calories. Most melons are a good source of vitamin C and contain a dietary significant amount of potassium. Rock melons, with their orange flesh, contain beta-carotene which is converted to vitamin A in the body. The red flesh of watermelon contains the carotenoid lycopene, also found in tomatoes. Phenolic compounds are another type of phytonutrient found in rock melon, water melon and honey dew melon.
Use ripe stickers to indicate which melons are ripe – but make sure they are. Offer tasting sessions to encourage sales. Cut in half and wrap in plastic to show the different coloured flesh of different melons. Use the QR code on labels.
Store at 7-10°C with a relative humidity of 90-98%. Lower temperatures can cause chilling injury. Melons, with the exception of watermelons, are ethylene producing so do not store them next to ethylene sensitive vegetables.
Purchase melons with the New Zealand GAP logo.
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