A rock melon is a rock melon (Cucumis melo) and a muskmelon. They are just names for the same kind of fruit. The rock melon is very distinctive because it has a rind that looks like white netting over a skin and the skin is not edible. There are no ribs. When you cut the rock melon in half, you will find a light orange colored pulp and a grouping of seeds in the middle. The seeds lay in a natural hollow as opposed to being imbedded in the flesh. Rock melon grows on a vine like squash or pumpkin.
The rock melon belongs to the same plant species as melons and squashes. A ripe rock melon has a rich flavor. It also has a pleasing scent that tells you it’s ripe.
Choosing the Best
There are many different views on how to tell if a rock melon is ripe. The ripe fruit is much sweeter and the pulp is much softer than that found in an unripe melon. Your goal is to find the ripe melons at the store or farmer’s market which can be challenging.
The best rock melons will have the following qualities:
- A hollow sound when tapped with the hand
- No signs of bruising or dents
- No soft spots indicating the pulp is damaged
- Feels heavy for its size
- Sweet scent
- Stem is separated from the rock melon
- Stem area yields when lightly pressured
A ripe rock melon will have a skin that is cream colored or light yellow beneath the netting. A green skin indicates the rock melon is not ripe and it should not be purchased.
A whole rock melon can be left to ripen at room temperature if purchased unripe. A ripe rock melon must then be stored in the refrigerator. If it’s ripe when you bring it home then it should go right to the refrigerator. Refrigeration will keep the melon fresh and stop additional ripening.
Rock melon that has been sliced should only be stored in the refrigerator even if not ripe enough for your taste. In some stores you can buy rock melon halves or wedges. Rock melon that has been cut needs to be encased in plastic wrap. Rock melon emits ethylene gas and the gas can change the taste of other foods stored in the refrigerator.
Preparing and Cooking
You need to handle rock melon with care because bacteria can grow on the skin.
- Wash the melon thoroughly
- Cut the melon in half
- Remove the webbing of seeds
- Cut pulp into smaller pieces if desired
Since rock melon is delicious raw, it’s ready to eat after you remove the seeds. If you plan on adding rock melon to a fruit salad then you will need to cut the rock melon into bite-sized chunks or use a melon-baller to scoop out nuggets of rock melon.
Rock melon will stay fresh and nutritious for up to 6 days in the refrigerator.
Rock melon is delicious in a fruit salad, on a bed of lettuce, or in yogurt. Rock melon balls taste great on cereal too.
A ripe rock melon will have the most antioxidants. Antioxidants are essential to cell health because they prevent free radical damage. Free radicals can alter cell structure leading to early aging and diseases like cancer. A single cup of rock melon can supply a full day’s value of Vitamin A and a high level of Vitamin C. Vitamin C is also important for maintaining a healthy immune system.
Rock melon can add fiber and essential minerals to your diet too. These nutrients help the digestive system function normally and promote healthy bones and soft tissue. Folate, potassium and niacin promote a healthy cardiovascular system. This is a heart healthy food in many ways.
One rock melon wedge contains the following nutrients in quantity:
- Vitamin A – 1860 I.U.
- Vitamin K – 1.4 mcg
- Vitamin C – 20.2 mg
- Dietary fiber – 0.5 g
- Folate – 11.6 mcg
- Iron – 0.1mg
- No cholesterol
- No saturated fat
- Calcium – 4.9 mg
- Phosphorous – 8.2 mg
- Potassium – 147 mg
- Magnesium – 6.6 mcg
Rock melon is flavorful and nutritious! Call it a rock melon or call it a cantaloupe….it’s the same great fruit!