A galia melon is a hybrid of the more common cantaloupe and honeydew melons and was developed in Israel in 1970. Still primarily cultivated there, the Israeli galia, as it is sometimes called, also is grown in the southern United States, Latin America and Puerto Rico. Prized for its intoxicating fragrance and super sweet flesh, the galia melon generally carries with it a higher price tag than other melons found in supermarkets, but for melon aficionados, it is considered well worth the price.
Slightly larger than a cantaloupe, with a thick, rough, netted-looking skin, galia melon is heavy for its size and generally comes to the marketplace with a pale greenish-yellow outer coloring. As it ripens, the skin turns more yellow-golden, and the sweet aroma of the ripened flesh becomes evident. It is these qualities that determine the ripeness of a galia melon as opposed to traditional pressing for softness at the root, the method often recommended for testing other members of the muskmelon family. The galia melon's flesh is light yellow-green in color when ripe as well as being extremely juicy.
As with other types of melon, the galia melon requires a period of sustained heat and plenty of moisture to grow. It prefers diffused light rather than direct, constant sunlight, and the soil should be rich with excellent drainage. Support is important as the melon grows, to avoid damaging the plant. Some melon growers will wrap the fruit in netting in order to elevate it from the ground.
Galia melons should be ripened at room temperature and then kept in the refrigerator either whole or sliced, and they will last for up to three days. The seeds should be scooped out and discarded. Essentially a dessert melon eaten on its own, galias also can be served in a mixed fruit salad, puréed and turned into a margarita or daiquiri, or they even can be transformed into a frozen fruit sorbet. Mediterranean cooks often will serve them with a fresh grinding of black pepper or sea salt to complement the sweetness, and a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime also can enhance the galia’s flavor.
The history of melon in general and its development as a popular part of cuisine is not particularly clear. Melon seeds are almost identical in appearance to cucumber seeds, so it is difficult to determine from archeological findings how long melons have been cultivated. Hampton Court, during 16th century England, was known to grow melons as a kitchen crop, and they became a coveted fruit often reserved for the rich. Spanish explorers as well as Columbus are believed to have taken melons to the West Indies and the New World, where they flourished with ease. By the 18th century, American settlers were enjoying melon on a regular basis and often grew them for profit.