Like cucumbers and squash, honeydew and other melons belong to the Cucurbitaceae family and grow on vines. Honeydew is oval shaped, has a cream colored or yellow-green rind, and green flesh (though one variety of honeydew actually has orange flesh, similar to that of cantaloupe). When fully ripe, the honeydew is the sweetest of all the melons.
It is believed that these melons originated in Persia and were prized by the ancient Egyptians thousands of years ago, because they had hieroglyphics that depicted honeydew. Honeydew melons were also cultivated by the ancient Romans and brought to Europe during the Roman Empire. The honeydew didn't become well-known though until the fifteenth century. Columbus then carried honeydew melon seeds to America, and Spanish explorers who settled in present-day California cultivated the melons. Today, most of the honeydew melons produced in the United States are still grown in California, but it is also cultivated in some of the southwestern states.Honeydew is high in potassium which makes it a great food for maintaining a healthy blood pressure. Too many Americans have high blood pressure from excess sodium and other factors, so getting enough potassium from foods such as honeydew is essential for the good health of many. High levels of potassium in the diet also help decrease the risk for heart disease and stroke.
Honeydew melons also have many nutrients that are particularly good for healthy skin. They’re high in vitamin C and they also have copper, both of which are important for collagen production and tissue repair. And that’s not mentioning their water content, which helps to keep the skin hydrated and have that healthy glow that we all seek!
Honeydew melons are also a good food for those who are trying to lose weight. They’re low in calories with only about sixty calories per cup. Add to that the high water content (honeydew is about 90 percent water) and fiber, and this melon helps give you a feeling of fullness for not many calories. They are also a good source of the B vitamins and of the trace mineral copper with small amounts of calcium and magnesium.
Honeydew melons are called "winter melons" because they ripen late in the season and are at their peak during the late summer, fall, and winter months. Melons that are picked before fully ripe will never reach their true flavor potential because once they are cut from the vine, they can't grow any sweeter. One good sign of ripeness is a clean break between the melon and the stem, rather than a cut in the stem. Tiny 'freckles' on the surface of the melon are signs of sweetness and a ripe melon will also have a sweet smell and should be heavy for its size.
Honeydew Melon Salsa
- 1 1/2 cups honeydew melon, diced
- 1/2 cup fresh pineapple, diced (for additional flavor, lightly oil and grill the pineapple before cutting it up)
- 1 teaspoon serrano chili, seeded and minced
- 1/4 cup red onion, diced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil