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 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 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.
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.