Choosing a good melon can be confusing. But learning to recognize the main three families and their most important characteristics will make the job a lot easier.
Characteristics: Smooth-skinned; generally green-fleshed, though not always; crisp or grainy texture; flowery aroma.
Common names: Honeydew, Casaba, Crenshaw, Canary, Santa Claus, Christmas.
Best when: Skin is creamy-colored, couche spot is pronounced, dark brown "sugar spots" appear on skin.
Characteristics: Netted skin; generally orange-fleshed, though not always; creamy flesh; musky aroma.
Common names: Muskmelon (cantaloupe), Persian, Galia, Sharlyn, Ambrosia.
Best when: Netting is pronounced; both netting and background colors are tan or golden; "bellybutton" is clean of stem; aroma is powerful.
Characteristics: Scaly skin with deep ribs; generally orange-fleshed, though not always; creamy flesh; powerfully floral aroma.
Common names: Cavaillon, Charentais, Ha' Ogen.
Best when: Scales and ribbing are pronounced; skin colors are vibrant; "bellybutton" is clean of stem; aroma is powerful.