“If honeydew is ripe, then it is the king of all melons”. Honeydew melons are considered to be more ‘melony’ and tastier than cantaloupe watermelon or any other variety of melons. One of the most popular melons, belonging to the cucurbit (gourd) family, honeydew melon is most closely related to casaba, Crenshaw, and winter melons. Honeydew melons are thought to have their roots near Iran (Persia) and/or West Africa. Although no specific data has been recorded to measure the produce of honeydew worldwide, the United States ranks third, behind China and Turkey in the produce of cantaloupe and honeydew variety of melons. This same variety of fruit is also produced in southern France, where they call it by the name, `White Antibes’.
While the honeydew plant is quite similar to cantaloupe except for more round shape of the leaf, the fruits are distinctive. They are round to slightly oval; about 8 inches long, and are extremely smooth with no netting or ribs. Some soft hairs are present on the surface in early stages. Rind color is greenish white when immature, becoming somewhat creamy yellow when ripe. The flesh is light green, thick, juicy, sweet, and uniquely flavored. A particular variety of honeydew also has orange flesh and salmon colored rind. Ripe honeydew is the sweetest of all melons.
Commercial varieties of honeydew have not done very well in the market, although the average per capita consumption of honeydew melons has increased each decade since the 1960s. The greatest success with their culture has been with irrigation in semiarid regions of the country. The humid conditions with accompanying diseases and insect problems have made them a poor choice for both gardeners and commercial farmers alike. The U.S. farm value of honeydew melons averaged $94 million during 2001-03. During this 3-year course, California produced 76 percent of the nation’s honeydews, followed by Arizona and Texas.
A major difficulty in the process of production of honeydew melons is of ripening and harvesting the fruit. Fruits of most honeydew plants do not separate from the vine at maturity, as do muskmelons; so they must be clipped. The size, skin color and smoothness of the rind are the characteristics that are to be looked for in the fruit in order to judge its maturity. Gardeners should watch for the development of distinct blotches or streaks of yellow appearing on the creamy white surface as an indication for time to harvest. This should occur in 80-90 days from seeding to first fruit picking. Ideally, it would be best to harvest honeydew melons just before their surface starts to crack and still waiting long enough for the fruit to develop its full flavor. It is important to realize that cutting the fruit from the vine in an earlier harvest at a more immature stage reduces the cracking problem, improving shelf life and appearance, but results in fruit with lower sugar content and inferior flavor.
Whatever may be the difficulties with the proper harvesting, a ripe juicy honeydew melon has a lot of added benefits. Honeydew melons are packed with vitamin C and are a good source of potassium. Consumption of honeydew melons can potentially reduce your risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, cancers and strokes. The honeydew melons are also a favorite scented candle because of its refreshing sweet scent and pleasant aroma. So, the next time you look out for a honeydew melon, don’t just thump and shake to check its ripeness, as you would have done with a usual watermelon. Improve the eating quality of uncut melons by leaving them at room temperature for 2-4 days. Once cut, eat the sweet and juicy honeydew melon within 2 days. That’s the way to enjoy a quick healthy honeydew snack!
Sustainable Living Articles @ http://www.articlegarden.com