Muskmelons are considered to have the finest flavour of the three types of this species. They have a large seed cavity and a "netted" exterior.
Cantaloupes have a milder flavour, a scaly exterior and often deep grooves like pumpkins or squashes.
Winter melons have a mild, sweet flavour. They have a hard exterior and their flesh ranges from white to pale orange to light green, depending on type.
Low in calories, muskmelons are an excellent source of both Vitamins A and C, are high in potassium and are a source of folacin.
Melons appear in 4,000-year-old Egyptian depictions of banquets. The Old Testament refers to them and we know the Greeks, Romans and ancient Chinese enjoyed them.
Early Spanish explorers brought the fruit to the New World where they were first cultivated by aboriginal peoples and later by European settlers.
Buying and storing
Look for a crown-like formation at the stem end, which shows it was ripe when harvested. Exterior should be firm and free of soft spots.
Tapping with the knuckles tells you how dense the fruit is. A ripe melon should give off a sweet, spicy scent.
Melons can be refrigerated for several days.
Simply remove the seeds to eat.
These make a refreshing summer dish shaped in small balls with other melons and garnished with fresh mint or finely chopped candied ginger.
It's a great breakfast fruit, or a fine dessert served with a sweet wine such as a Sauterne, Barsac, Madeira or Port.