Honeydew and cantaloupe are not the same fruit.
- Honeydew melons have a completely smooth rind.
- Cantaloupe has a net-like exterior in North America.
- Cantaloupe contains higher levels of vitamin C and beta-carotene.
- Honeydew is slightly sweeter and lower in calories.
- Both fruits offer various health benefits, like hydration and essential nutrients.
To understand the difference between honeydew and cantaloupe, first look at the exterior. The rind of honeydew is smooth, whereas a cantaloupe in North America has a distinctive net-like skin. For a nutritional comparison, cantaloupe ranks higher in vitamin C and beta-carotene, which are crucial for overall health and immunity.
Taste-wise, if you prefer a sweeter fruit, honeydew might be your go-to as it is slightly sweeter while also being lower in calories, making it a delightful treat that is also good for managing weight. Lastly, regardless of which fruit you choose, you’ll benefit from its high water content and helpful nutrients that support a healthy lifestyle.
The foundation for any argument in honeydew vs cantaloupe is that these two sweet fruits belong to the same species, Cucumis melo. However, both are delicious fruits with unique characteristics that separate them. Continue reading to find out the key differences between these two melons.
Like other plants in their species, honeydew and cantaloupe thrive when grown in subtropical or warm climates as annual plants. As part of the Cucurbitaceae family, these plants are vulnerable to common diseases and insects like cucumber beetles and downy mildew.
The melon species holds several wonderful fruits under its umbrella, and in North America, melons with sweet flesh have become known as muskmelons. Under this umbrella term, we find cantaloupe and honeydew, which are classified this way because of their sweet flesh and the texture of their rinds, which can be either smooth or ribbed.
Are Honeydew Melons and Cantaloupe the Same Thing?
The muskmelon term is only applicable in North America as the European cantaloupe, known as the true cantaloupe, grows a warty rind. It’s the main difference between muskmelon and cantaloupe. Although this description of muskmelons sounds relevant to many fruits like the different kinds of watermelon, watermelon belongs to a different genus of plants and is only loosely related to muskmelons.
Fortunately, these fruits are not the same, which means we have even more sweet choices of fruit to enjoy on hot summer days. When looking at these fruits side by side, they have similarities that outweigh their differences.
The Difference between Cantaloupe and Honeydew Melon
The question of “Are honeydew melons and cantaloupe the same thing?” is quickly answered by observing both fruits. In North America, the cantaloupe peel has a net-like appearance and feel compared to the ribbed exterior of the European species.
North American cantaloupe (Cucumis melo var. reticulatus) is a round melon with a light yellow to gray peel. The orange flesh of the melon is slightly sweet with a firm texture. The surface of cantaloupe carries harmful bacteria, specifically Salmonella, so thoroughly wash the melon before cutting it.
When shopping for produce or harvesting your own, look for different type of cantaloupe that are tan with light green lines across the peel. Avoid melons with brown spots or melons that feel soft as the melon becomes firm as it ripens.
Honeydew melon is a slightly oval-shaped melon with a completely smooth rind that lacks any musty odor that some muskmelons are known for. The skin of honeydew is a pale green, while the green flesh inside is a deeper color.
When looking for a ripe honeydew, the deciding factor is its maturity in terms of appearance rather than size. Ripe honeydew has a waxy feel and should feel heavy for its size. Most honeydew weighs between four and seven pounds. Honeydew with fuzz signifies a fruit that is not ripe. The skin of the honeydew should be free of scars and blemishes.
Using Honeydew vs. Cantaloupe in the Kitchen
We love these melons for their juicy sweet flavor, and their flesh makes colorful additions to popular summer treats like fruit salad. When enjoying a fresh platter of cut fruit, you may wonder, “Are honeydew melons and cantaloupe the same thing?” It’s understandable because their taste is similar, though honeydew is slightly sweeter.
Once washed and cut, cantaloupe is eaten as a fresh fruit whole or cut into salads, or eaten as a dessert with ice cream. Another common way to enjoy cantaloupe is wrapped in prosciutto and served at room temperature as an antipasto.
Because of its sweeter flavor and texture, honeydew holds up well when added to various dishes, from desserts to drinks and salsas to accompany savory meals low on carbs. With simple ingredients, turn honeydew into a healthy and refreshing treat for the summer.
Peel, seed, and chop your cucumbers before placing them into a blender with your honeydew, lime juice, and water. Process until well-blended and add ice if the consistency is too loose. Pour into individual glasses and add a sprig of mint.
The Nutritional Difference between Cantaloupe and Honeydew Melon
These fruits share similar nutritional benefits as both have a high water content, with a low percentage of carbohydrates, fat, and dietary fiber. The USDA data on these melon values shows that one key difference between them is vitamin C and beta-carotene, where cantaloupe is superior.
Carotenoids like beta-carotene give plants and fruit distinct colors, like carrots and pumpkins. Raw cantaloupe is an excellent vitamin A and C source, containing more than 20% of the recommended daily value. Cantaloupe contains less than 5% of minerals such as calcium, folate, iron, and a negligible amount of protein.
Although not as packed with vitamin C as cantaloupe, honeydew still contains more than the daily recommended value of 22%. However, vitamins and minerals for honeydew are below 10%, including vitamin B6, potassium, and magnesium. An advantage of honeydew is that compared to other fruits including cantaloupe, it is low in calories.
Research gathered by Megan Ware, RDN, L.D, stated the health benefits of consuming foods like cantaloupe that contain potassium improves blood pressure. Additionally, the antioxidants in cantaloupe and honeydew are essential for improving your health to avoid heart disease (..).
Note: Consult a registered dietitian for intake recommendations.
Honeydew vs Cantaloupe
When comparing these melons, either one is an excellent choice when looking for a light fruit snack. For the sweeter option, choose honeydew, but we suggest cutting open a cantaloupe for an extra boost in daily vitamin C.
If you’re interested in growing cantaloupe, start from seeds in containers at least four weeks before the last frost date in your area. Cantaloupe seeds grow quickly when the soil temperature remains between 75-85°F. Try placing a heating pad or a heating mat for gardening under the pot and monitoring with a soil thermometer.
Keep your seedlings watered as they sprout and once the threat of frost passes, transplant them into the garden. Leave around three feet of space between each plant to grow multiple plants as the fruit grows on vines that spread rapidly.
Growing honeydew melons is fairly similar to growing other melons, with the key difference being soil temperature. While cantaloupe enjoys warmer soil, honeydew can germinate in the soil when the temperature is around 65°F. Make an organic fertilizer for honeydew and watermelon so they get all the nutrients they need as they develop.
The vines that honeydew plants grow spread far, so adding support like a trellis around your plant is an excellent way to keep plants from overlapping. Growing melons and cantaloupe vertically in containers allows gardening in small areas. Space your plants out with at least three feet between them if you use a support structure, or leave up to six feet of space if you prefer the vines to grow naturally.
Storing and Using Melons
Whether you purchase melons from the store or bring your homegrown produce in from the garden, storing your fruit is essential to enjoying the best flavor possible. If you’re growing your melons at home, allow your melons to rest for a few days after harvest before serving. Melons picked up from the store do not need this rest period.
Washing either melon is crucial once you bring it into your home. The net-like skin of cantaloupe is the perfect place for bacteria to grow, but you should wash even the smooth-skinned honeydew as a general rule of thumb.
After cutting your melons, they’ll store for up to three days in the fridge. Place your slices into plastic bags and puncture the plastic to create several holes in the bag.
If you cut your melons or know you aren’t going to use your ripe fruit anytime soon, freezing the flesh of the melons is an excellent way to store them. After cutting the melons, dice the flesh or use a melon baller to create little fruit balls.
Store your small melon pieces in plastic bags in the freezer and take them out when you’re ready to use them in smoothies or fruit salad.
Whole melons hold for about a week in the fridge before spoiling, but the refrigerator is not the ideal location for melons. Melons prefer cool environments with moist air, and the air inside the refrigerator is dry.
The average temperature of refrigerators is 40°F; this is the recommended temperature listed by the FDA for proper food storage; however, melons experience chilling injuries at temperatures below 50°F.
In addition to these symptoms, the melon may rapidly deteriorate in low temperatures. If you must store your melon in the refrigerator, check on it for signs of a chilling injury and try to use it as soon as possible.
Because the difference between cantaloupe and honeydew melon is minimal, choosing which to eat or grow at home may come down to taste preference. You’ll enjoy these melons as a summer treat in your favorite sweet dishes, regardless of which you pick.
We hope you learned the differences in the debate of honeydew vs cantaloupe and will share our guide on the difference between cantaloupe and honeydew melon with your friends on Facebook and Pinterest.