For melon lovers looking for something a little different, a canary melon may be just the thing. It is a large and brightly colored melon that is often slightly larger than cantaloupes or honeydew melons. This variety is grown in the southwestern United States, specifically Arizona and the southern portion of California. A number of large producers are also found in South America.
Sometimes referred to as a Juan Canary melon, the melon is characterized by a deep rich yellow outer skin. The meat is usually a green that is slightly paler than found with honeydew melons, and in some cases, it may appear to be almost white with just a hint of green. With a strong and pleasing aroma, the canary is not as sweet as many varieties of melons, but has a tendency to enhance the taste of other fruits when mixed into fruit salads.
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It is possible to buy a Canary melon just about any time of year. Crops in the United States generally produce from June until October of each year, with the peak period of production taking place in the month of July. South American production usually begins around the first of November and continues through the winter months. Unlike some types of fruit, the melon does not lend itself well to canning, but balls can be found in the frozen food sections of some supermarkets, along with frozen honeydew and cantaloupe.
When choosing a good quality canary melon, consumers should make sure the body of the melon is firm. The presence of any soft spots along the body is an indication that the melon has passed its prime, but it should be slightly soft around the stem area. If the stem area is still firm, then the melon is not yet ripe enough to be eaten.
Along with the general firmness of the melon, shoppers should play close attention to the color of the rind or skin. A ripe canary melon will be bright yellow with few or no blemishes. Shoppers must be sure to check closely for hints of green on the skin, which will indicate that the melon was picked early and will need to ripen before the meat will be ready to eat. The sweet flavor of the meat will not be fully developed until the ripening is complete, so there is no point in choosing a green melon if it will be chilled and served the same day.
As a nice way to enhance the appearance and flavor of fruit trays and salads, the canary melon offers some additional variety in the use of melons. Not as sweet as a watermelon, but with a little more taste than most honeydew melons, it strikes just the right balance for many people.