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I’m a rockmelon, related to honeydews, watermelons, and even cucumbers, pumpkins and squashes. We’re usually round or slightly elongated with firm, netted or scaly, greyish-green, cream or buff rind. Some of us have grooves or sutures running from end to end, but we all have moist, sweet, orange to peach-coloured flesh, and a distinct fragrance. Our flesh surrounds seeds in the centre.
We’re available all year round with our peak being from November to March.
We are sometimes called cantaloupe melons because we were first cultivated near Cantalupo in Italy, in the mid-18th century.
We’re not sold by variety in Australia.
• We’re an excellent source of vitamin C. Just 100g has a whole day’s supply.
• We’re a good source of beta carotene and the deeper the orange colour of our flesh, the higher the level. Beta carotene is converted to vitamin A in the body.
We’re a good source of potassium so we help balance too much sodium that comes from salty foods.
• 100g of rockmelon has 120kJ.
We grow on vines similar to the pumpkin vine and like a hot dry climate. Our parent plant has large, hairy, green-lobed leaves which are rough to touch and are borne on long stems arising from the trailing main stem. Yellow male and female flowers are produced on the same vine and, following fertilisation, the female flower produces the fruit or melon.
We take 3-4 months to grow before we’re mature enough to pick. We’re generally picked by hand and placed onto a conveyer belt and lowered into large bins. We do not ripen after we’re harvested.
Select those of us with a sweet aroma and a pronounced netting on our skin. Background colour should be beige to golden.
We do not ripen further after harvesting, we only get softer. Store us at room temperature. Once cut, cover and refrigerate.
We have been known since ancient times and once grew in the fertile Nile Valley. We appear to have been introduced into Europe at the beginning of the 15th century.
We’re best eaten raw, not cooked. Simply cut in half and remove the soft seeds. Our skin can be left on for presentation and easier handling but is not eaten.
We’re so versatile we can be served as part of any meal of the day. Our bright orange flesh looks most attractive either on its own or with other fruits, on breakfast cereal or yoghurt, prosciutto or ham, prawns, crab, scallops, calamari or just as dessert with a big dollop of cream or ice cream.
Puree us for cold soup, sorbet, ice cream or drinks. Hollow out our shell and fill with fruit salad, tuna or chicken and melon salad. Bite-size pieces can be frozen and eaten like a fruit ‘ice block’, very refreshing in summer.
Here are a few more ideas (rockmelon recipes) to try:
Rockmelon and Smoked Chicken Salad
Cut rockmelon in half. Remove seeds and flesh with a melon baller. Combine with diced smoked cooked chicken, seedless green grapes, diced green apple, celery and shallots. Mix mayonnaise with a little sour cream and mango chutney. Stir through chicken and spoon into rockmelon shells. Sprinkle with roasted macadamia nuts.
Dice or ball rockmelon. Marinate 30 minutes in marsala. Mix with diced glace ginger and serve in a glass bowl. Top with a scoop of ice cream sprinkled with roasted almond flakes and a fresh strawberry.
French Rockmelon Salad
Dice or scoop out rockmelon flesh with a melon baller. Mix with French dressing and finely chopped green shallots. Serve as a refreshing side salad decorated.