Fruit Facts

Japanese Melon? Korean Melon? Canary Melon

Marketed under multiple names, the canary melon is a summertime treat.

By Katharine Shilcutt August 5, 2013

This past weekend, I picked up a few different fruits at Hong Kong Market in hopes of finding a new favorite to snack on this summer. I've been eating watermelon at home like it's about to go extinct; the cantaloupe hasn't been very good this year; and honeydew can die in a fire. Seriously—who really enjoys honeydew? It's like cantaloupe's sickly cousin.

I ended up with three different bags of fruit, only one of which I was remotely familiar with: mangosteen. I was excited to see the tiny Southeast Asian fruit in the first place, given its infamous ban—one that was just lifted in 2007. These days, the fruit is irradiated before being imported to the United States, killing the tropical pests that could wreak havoc on U.S. crops and which were previously responsible for the ban.

Unfortunately, since mangosteens are still so rare in U.S. stores, it was my first time to have seen them in person. I didn't know how to pick a sack and ended up with a bag of rotten mangosteens that sprouted disturbing green fur from their innards when split open. Strike one.

The next fruit to be taste-tested was the first of two melons: a long, green variety that had the skin of a garden squash and had been sold at Hong Kong Market as "Vietnam melons." The more familiar name of the fruit is "winter melon," and isn't exactly sweet when ripe. I didn't realize this, having only tasted winter melon in sweetened smoothies. It was musky and slimy and thoroughly unappealing. Strike two.

I hit the jackpot with the second melon, however, which had been sold as "Japanese melon" at Hong Kong Market. I've seen it elsewhere as "Korean melon," too, which gives an idea of the fruit's geographic origins: it's commonly grown in both countries.

Its real name is the canary melon, or C. melo, a moniker that refers to the canary-yellow hue of its acorn squash-like rind. Split open, the flesh looks and feels like that of a nicely crunchy pear, with the musky sweetness of a cantaloupe. It was the best of both worlds. I ate nearly the entire melon in one sitting, and knew I'd found my new summertime treat.


Filed under
Show Comments