A Guide to Lesser-Known Melons, from Casaba to Charentais

Watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew might be the easiest melons to find, but grab one of these lesser-known varieties from the farmers’ market and you’re in for a sweet surprise:

1. Casaba

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The flavor of this wrinkly, ridged gourd recalls cucumber more than the sweeter muskmelons. With a squeeze of citrus juice, it’s nice in gazpacho or a smoothie.

2. Galia

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A cantaloupe-honeydew hybrid with delicious-smelling pale green flesh. Extra delectable served chilled with a sprinkling of sea salt.

3. Charentais

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Also known as French cantaloupe; honeyed and tender with green ribbing and slight netting (like a cantaloupe with stripes). Extremely fragrant when fully ripe. Keep it simple: Slice and eat.

4. Canary

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At its best, this bright yellow, football-shaped melon is sugary, a little tangy, somewhat tropical-tasting. Great in cold soups or salads, and with herbs such as basil, mint, and cilantro.

5. Sprite

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This petite, smooth-skinned type from North Carolina has notes of honeydew, watermelon, and pear. Its uniquely crisp, apple-like flesh makes it easy to dice into an herby, citrusy melon salsa.

6. Crenshaw

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This cross between a casaba and a Persian comes in both white and green varieties. It’s exceptionally luscious, juicy, and a little peppery at its peak; use interchangeably with cantaloupe.

7. Persian

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Don’t let the musky scent put you off—this melon’s orange flesh is as irresistible as a perfect cantaloupe. Often picked too soon, so choose more perfumed ones with tanner skin.

8. Christmas/Santa Claus

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This dark green, oblong melon has a late harvest and is available from South America into December. It’s on the milder side: Heavy ones will be sweeter. Serve at room temperature with creamy cheeses and cured meats.

9. Sharlyn

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A highly perishable variety with a subtle flavor. It’s excellent with tangy ingredients like yogurt and goat cheese, or for balancing chile-spiked dishes.

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