Summer is ending soon, so it’s time to stock up on melons. But which melons are best to purchase, and how can you incorporate them into your menu?
An enduring summer favorite, melons are a member of the Cucurbitaceae family and come in several varieties that fall under the watermelon or muskmelon umbrella. Muskmelons and watermelons have thick rinds and soft inner flesh that’s both nutritious and hydrating thanks to the high-water content, so it’s hardly surprising that people have been enjoying melons since ancient Egyptian times.
However, not all melons are the same. Some are juicier, and some contain more lycopene. Others are sweeter or have a longer shelf life. Still, others offer a higher yield. For example, 15-18 cantaloupes without rinds provide a 50% yield, while six honeydews without rinds have a 57% yield and watermelons have a 47% yield.
Since so many delicious melons are on the market today, choosing which ones to stock up on can be difficult. Plus, once you make your selections, you’ll need to decide what to do with them.
Types of Melons
Here are five types of melons that you definitely need to load up on and add to your menu before they go out of season:
Watermelons are classic summer fruits, though they’re available all year round — and they’re the perfect addition to any menu. They grow on sprawling vines and peak sometime between May and September, depending on where you live.
Watermelons can be served in various ways, so you can always find something new to add to your menu. Not only will watermelons add a healthy and refreshing twist to your recipes, but they’re also a crowd favorite. In 2016, the U.S. consumed 16.54 pounds of fresh watermelon per capita!
Most people think of a large, green, round fruit with red flesh and black or white seeds, but you don’t have to stick with just one type of watermelon. Several varieties are available, ranging from Bambino watermelons to Queen of Hearts watermelons to Jubilee watermelons, and they all vary slightly in size and flesh color. Some have seeds, while others are seedless, but all watermelons are hydrating, refreshing, and perfect for the hot end-of-summer weather.
Another member of the melon family, honeydew melons vary in size but usually weigh between four and eight pounds and are oval in shape. While these muskmelons traditionally have green skin and smooth green flesh, there are several varieties of honeydew with different colored rinds and flesh.
For example, the orange-flesh honeydew melon has a salmon-colored rind and orange flesh, while the golden honeydew melon features a golden exterior, a sweet taste, a thin rind, and a small seed cavity.
Honeydew melons have a higher sugar content than watermelons and American cantaloupes. What’s more, they’re perfect for hot days because they’re rich in nutrients, high in vitamin C, and contain around 90% water.
Honeydews are naturally sweet but reach peak sweetness when left on the vine until fully ripened. Plus, they have a long shelf life, making them popular and easy to find throughout the year. So, once you find the perfect recipe with honeydew, you won’t need to worry about adjusting your menu due to a lack of honeydew melon availability.
Packed with vitamins A and C, American cantaloupes have earned a top spot among the most nutritious melons. Cantaloupes also contain plenty of water and antioxidants, including lutein, selenium, and zeaxanthin, and support heart health, prevent age-related macular degeneration, and may even reduce the risk of cancer.
The true cantaloupes in Europe are small, spherical melons featuring prominent ribs, whereas American cantaloupes are small, round, netted melons. They have a netted rind, rough skin, and orange flesh due to the beta carotene. Your customers will appreciate cantaloupes’ sweetness, juiciness, and pleasant floral aroma, so don’t hesitate to incorporate cantaloupe into your menu.
Named for the French and Italian words for pineapple, these sweet melons have a floral taste and smell. This variety of muskmelon is oval in shape and has rough orange-yellow netted skin, though the rind may be green on less mature fruits. In contrast, ananas’ flesh is smooth, juicy, and pale, ranging in color from ivory to pale yellow to orange to pale green.
These popular summer fruits generally range between twelve and seventeen centimeters in diameter. They smell like pineapples and have a faint caramel-like aftertaste, making them a truly delicious tasting experience.
They also offer plenty of nutritional value. Not only are ananas melons packed with vitamins A and C, which can reduce inflammation and improve the immune system, but they also contain folate, potassium, copper, magnesium, fiber, and vitamin K. Including ananas melons on your menu won’t simply provide your customers with a burst of flavor, but it will also offer health benefits.
Ananas melons are available throughout the summer and early fall, so make sure to load up on these types of melons soon.
Also known as Sarda, the Galia melon looks like a cantaloupe on the outside with its rough, netted rind, but its light green interior is reminiscent of a honeydew melon. Galia melons generally weigh between two and three pounds and have a strong, musky smell.
They were developed in Israel and are very sweet. In fact, Galia melons are so sweet that they’re known as dessert melons! Galia melons will add flavor to margaritas, fruit punches, and fruit salads, but these sweet melons can also be eaten alone or dressed up with a bit of salt, ginger, or lemon juice.
Where Can You Find Fresh Wholesale Melons?
You can enjoy lower prices by buying melons wholesale instead of heading to your nearest grocery store. If your business is located in Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, or select areas of Bergen County and needs a wholesale melon supplier, be sure to check out Fadaro.
We have a refrigerated warehouse and temperature-controlled trucks, so every melon order will arrive fresh and cool. We can even suggest and provide you with the right melons at the right time.
When Are Melons in Season?
While melons are available year-round and can be a constant on your menu, they are considered summer fruits and peak in the summer and early fall. In June, July, August, September, and October, melons are at their most flavorful and affordable, but different melons peak at different times.
For optimal flavor and profit, it’s best to include dishes with watermelons on the menu between May and September. On the other hand, cantaloupes peak between June and August, honeydews peak between June and October, ananas peak throughout the summer and early fall, and Galia melons peak between the spring and mid-fall.
Of course, this may vary slightly depending on where you live.
How Should You Store Melons?
To ensure your melons stay fresh until you’re ready to use them, you’ll need to store them properly. In most cases, keeping your whole melons out on the counter will allow for the best flavor. However, storing melons in the fridge can extend their shelf life. For example, uncut watermelons will generally last for two to three weeks when stored in a refrigerator, whereas they will only last seven to ten days when stored at room temperature on the counter.
It’s also worth noting that different melons have different temperature preferences. For example, you can store your cantaloupes at a colder temperature than your watermelons or honeydews. In fact, cantaloupes prefer a slightly cooler temperature and dislike temperature fluctuations, so it’s best to store them in the back of your fridge.
Since many watermelons become mushy or experience a reduced shelf life when exposed to ethylene gas, store your watermelons away from fruits that produce ethylene, such as apples, peaches, and avocados. Even honeydew and cantaloupe melons can produce ethylene, so try to put some distance between your watermelons and other melons.
What Can You Cook with Melons?
The cooking possibilities with members of the melon family are endless. They’re flavorful, hydrating, and sturdy enough for cooking. A melon will make the perfect addition to your menu, whether you’re serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a refreshing mid-afternoon drink or snack.
While a refreshing melon fruit salad is an obvious choice, there are so many more creative options for incorporating melons into your menu. When it comes to breakfast, you can use melons in everything from refreshing smoothies to delicious avocado toast. You can even wow customers by using a melon as a bowl and piling in the yogurt, granola, and berries.
For a lunch or dinner menu, you might consider making a chilled melon soup or a savory melon gazpacho. Even a melon and prosciutto pizza can significantly enhance your menu. The sweetness of the melon pairs perfectly with the saltiness of the prosciutto!
Melons also make the perfect side dish, as nothing quite hits the spot on a warm summer evening like a melon with a course of meat or seafood. You can also add melon salsa or watermelon hot sauce as condiment options to offer your diners a little extra flavor.
As for dessert, members of the melon family can be used in everything from ice cream to pie. You can even use melons in cobblers, sorbet, and chocolate-covered melon bites. If you want to impress your customers with something extra sophisticated and unique, try out cucumber-honeydew eclairs.
What Can You Do with the Leftovers?
If you happen to have leftovers, don’t worry! There are still plenty of things you can do with leftover melons.
You can quickly turn your leftover melons into a delicious purée or soup. Leftover melons can also be pickled or candied! You can even create flavorful melon granita with just two cups of puréed melon, 4 tablespoons of sugar, and two tablespoons of lemon or lime juice or bake them into cakes.
If none of those options sound appealing, you can also freeze some melon balls and serve them as melon ball cups up to a year later.
Sourcing Quality Melons
Getting your hands on quality melons isn’t always easy, especially with today’s supply chain problems, labor shortages, and increasingly challenging weather. To ensure you receive the melons you need, work with a wholesale food distributor.
Fadaro has decades of wholesale experience and can meet all your needs. Whether you’re searching for ananas melons or watermelons, we’ll deliver high-quality produce in peak freshness for a competitive price.
Contact us today for more information on orders and delivery.