With summer's bounty of melons available at the market, it is often difficult to choose which kind to buy. To help you decide, here's a quick run-down of the top-selling melons.

Nutritionally speaking, vitamin C is abundant in honeydew and cantaloupe. Cantaloupe is also a good source of carotenes (which the body converts to Vitamin A).

Watermelons have some potassium, catotenes and cancer-fighting lycopene. Melons contain a small amount of soluble fiber that can aid in digestion in the most delicious way.

If possible, purchase ripe melons the day you plan to use them. They will last one to four days at room temperature. Or you can store melons by removing the rind and cutting the fruit into cubes, then refrigerating in air-tight containers.

Cantaloupe - The nation's favorite melons, cantaloupe care available year round. The Texas and California crop of cantaloupes peak from July through September. To select a ripe, but not over ripe, cantaloupe, use your senses.

Look the melon over to make sure it has no soft spots or dark bruises. Look for a clean, smooth rind that gives slightly when you press on the end where the stem was removed. If the melon has "netting" on the skin, it shouldn't be green (this indicates immaturity and a melon that will never each it's sweet, juicy potential). Sniff the stem end, which should smell sweet and flower-like if the cantaloupe is ripe.

Honeydew - Like its cousin the cantaloupe, honeydew melons are available almost year-round. Honeydew melons grown in the United States are available late May to October.

Ripe honeydew melons have a rose-like fragrance, so when shopping, smell any melon you plan to buy. If there's no fragrance, there's likely to be no flavor, either. Honeydew's sweetness lends itself well to flavorful accents like pineapple, strawberries or low-fat vanilla yogurt.

Watermelon - Believe it or not, watermelons share the family tree with squash and cucumbers. They are available year round; but watermelons grown in Texas are sold from May through September. Like tomatoes, watermelons contain the cancer-fighting phytochemical lycopene. The only surefire way to pick a sweet, ripe melon is to cut it open and try it.

The information given herein is for educational purposes only. Reference to commercial products or trade names is made with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by Texas Cooperative Extension is implied.

Extension programs serve people of all ages regardless of socioeconomic level, race, color, sex, religion, disability or national origin. For more information, call your Rockwall County Extension Office - 972-882-0375.

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