What Is a Casaba Melon?

Niki Foster

The casaba melon is a variety of muskmelon that is closely related to the honeydew. The pale green flesh of the casaba melon has a mildly sweet flavor, and it has a wrinkly yellow rind with a pointed stem.

The casaba melon, a close relative of the honeydew, has a mild, cucumber-like flavor and pale green flesh.
The casaba melon, a close relative of the honeydew, has a mild, cucumber-like flavor and pale green flesh.

The casaba melon gets its name from Kasaba, Turkey, from where it was imported to the United States in the late 19th century. Although native to Asia Minor, the casaba melon is grown commercially in South America and in the southwestern United States, particularly California and Arizona.

Casaba melon can be served as part of a fruit platter. It pairs well with prosciutto.
Casaba melon can be served as part of a fruit platter. It pairs well with prosciutto.

Casaba Melon Uses

Like other melons, casaba is typically served raw on fruit platters or in a fruit salad. Casaba melon flesh can also be used as an ingredient in smoothies, sorbets, cocktails, or cold soups such as gazpacho.

It pairs well with a variety of other foods and ingredients, including curries, cured meats, salsa, coconut milk, ginger, and salty cheeses.

Did You Know?

The casaba, honeydew, cantaloupe, Persian, Crenshaw, and Santa Claus melons are all cultivars of the same species: Cucumis melo, better known as muskmelons.

Taste and Appearance

Largely because it is not as sweet or flavorful as other melon varieties, casaba is less popular than some of its relatives. However, casaba melon has the benefits of a long shelf life and juicy flesh with a mild flavor, which many people say is more similar to a cucumber than a honeydew or a cantaloupe. This make sense, since muskmelons and cucumbers belong to the same genus: Cucumis.

Casaba melon is available in both summer and winter months, since North American and South American casabas ripen at different times of the year. The flavor of a vine-ripened casaba melon is stronger than that of one ripened on the shelf, and sugar levels continue to increase the longer the melon stays on the vine.

Casaba melon has a very thick rind, and the external appearance of the fruit differs significantly from that of the honeydew and the cantaloupe. The skin of a casaba is smooth (rather than netted like a cantaloupe), but wrinkled, with longitudinal furrows. Casaba melons range in size from three to five pounds (one to two kilograms).

A ripe casaba melon should be bright yellow, and the blossom end should yield slightly to pressure.

Preparing Casaba Melon

If not vine-ripened, a casaba melon can be ripened on the counter for two to four days, after which it can be refrigerated for about five days, or three days if sliced.

Casaba melon is simple to prepare:

  • Slice the melon in half, scoop out the seeds in the middle, and cube the remaining pieces. As with all melons, the rind is not edible.

  • Casaba melon can also be eaten with a spoon for an easy snack after the seeds are removed.

  • Squeezing a bit of lemon or lime juice onto the melon can enhance its flavor.
Casaba melons have thick, bright yellow rinds.
Casaba melons have thick, bright yellow rinds.

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Discussion Comments

cmsmith10

If you are expecting that juicy, sweet taste indicative of a watermelon, you will be disappointed in your casaba melon. The casaba melon is not nearly as sweet as a regular watermelon. They almost have a cucumber taste to them. It is best served at room temperature.

I like to add a little salt, lime juice, and just a sprinkle of ginger on mine.

concordski

I think Casaba melons are underrated. You just have to make sure that they are really ripe when you eat them, and the great thing is that they ripen off the vine. You can let them sit in a dark place to ripen, although as the article above states, they are best when they ripen on the vine.

Also, there is a trick to accelerating the ripening process: you put the melon in a large brown paper bag along with some apples. The apples emit ethylene gas which speeds up the ripening of the melon. The apples themselves are not affected.

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