What’s the difference between a muskmelon and a cantaloupe?

I am so glad you asked.  I just learned the difference myself.  Lately I have seen ads for muskmelons and sales on cantaloupes but I couldn’t figure out the difference.  They looked the same to me.  Plus I can’t stand cantaloupe so I never took much interest in learning anything about the melon family.  That all changed in that last few weeks though.  Maybe it’s the pregnancy or maybe the excellent quality of produce we get at our CSA, but I have had a slight obsession with the cantaloupe.  An when I say obsession I mean that in the most pregnant way.  For instance, last week we (mainly me) at 3 of them!!  Several times Robert would reach for a slice and realize that I had already eaten the entire plate.  For dessert I often find myself deliberating between a piece of dark chocolate or a slice of cantaloupe.  Yikes, that’s bad.

So needless to say learning everything I can about this orange melon has been a top priority as of late.  Yesterday at our CSA pickup I asked the farmer himself what the difference is between the musk melon and the cantaloupe.  Personally I think the name musk melon should go, it sounds like something a hunter rubs on himself to camouflage his own scent.  The farmer told me that the muskmelon is more of an East Coast thing and the cantaloupe a West Coast thing.  That explains why I know little to nothing about musk melons, I’m a Californian.  But he also said that there are minor differences in the flavor.  The musk melon is often not quite as sweet and has a stronger “muskier” (for lack of a better term) flavor.  It is also heavily ribbed, whereas the cantaloupe lacks these deep grooves.  Our CSA farmer was so nice when he heard about my sudden interest in cantaloupes that he slipped an extra one into my bag.  I didn’t have the nerve to tell him that I already had one chilled in the fridge for when I got home.  Plus having three in the house makes me feel just a little more secure.

Here is a picture to show the difference.  The one on the left is a musk melon, the cantaloupe is on the right.  At least that is what the roadside farmer told me.

Another thing I have learned this week is that I do not know how to cut a cantaloupe.  I keep trying different methods and they always turn out all crazy shaped.  I am not really a fan of eating off the rind because then it gets all over my face.  If I had a melon baller I think that would solve my problems.  I think I am going to go buy one, just to feel like a kid again.  And as my mom said, who doesn’t have a melon baller?  I may also try to do some research on how to cut a perfect melon.  Any suggestions?

By the way if this baby girl comes out with an orangeish glow I wouldn’t be surprised.

Thanks, Courtney.

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13 responses to “What’s the difference between a muskmelon and a cantaloupe?

  1. I recently picked up an “Israel melon” from a road side stand and it looked just like the muskmelon in your photo. It had a creamy white flesh instead of orange, though a slightly sweeter flavor than a regular cantaloupe. Might look into that name as well!

    Emma
    City Roots, Country Life

  2. With a large knife I cut my melons from the stem end towards the other end…scoop out the seeds…then lay the cut side down on the cutting board & slice them up. Then I cut off the rind with a small knife & cut the slices into bite size pieces.

    My father-in-law was a product buyer. He said the canteloupes from the east coast have a larger pattern on the rind…the western canteloupes have a smaller pattern. He thinks the smaller pattern is a sweeter fruit.

    Deb

    • Thanks for the cutting tips Deb. I was cutting it across the equator so I will try it the other way. Maybe that’s my problem.

      And Emma I should have mentioned that the flesh is exactly the same color as a cantaloupe. I think the Isreal melon sounds interesting, I have never heard of such a thing but then again I am new to the melon world. I ate almost the entire musk melon pictured in the photo today. it was really sweet and delicious.

  3. One more thing…..one of my aunt’s had cancer. She craved cantalopes like crazy. She was going thru them like you are ! Ha! Apparently they are high in vitamins A & C ?? So definitely good for you !

  4. I cut watermelon, pineapple and cantaloupe the same way. Cut both ends off so that both are flat, stand the fruit on one end and cut the peel away from top to bottom all the way around. Now you can slice in half, scoop out the seeds and eat. .

  5. That’s how I cut a watermelon, because that’s how I have seen you do it. It never occurred to me to cut a cantaloupe that way too. I’ll try it.


  6. There are no cantaloupes in America. They are available in France, or Europe only. Cantaloupes in America are special breeds of musk melon.

  7. Actually you were given incorrect information…here in America we cannot get real cantaloupes. They are all musk melons, different species of them but musk melons all the same. Cantaloupes are only found in Europe. Most farmers are not even aware of this. On one coast they are “known” as cantaloupes and on the other musk melons but that’s about it…all the same.

  8. ravisankar

    could we conclude that the musk melons with thicker netting are cantaloupes and the cantaloupes with smoother skin are musk melons?? … would be easy

    • No, because musk melons are the americanized version that has little to no line and just mostly netting. True cantaloupe has deep basket-ball-like lines running through it. The farmer had no clue what he was talking about. Sorry! All in US are muskmelons. In the southeast ours have zero lines usually, and a beige-ish color on the outside.The European fruit can be more smooth. I ate cantaloupe in France, only difference I remember is that its darker fleshed (which could have been ripening) and more taste (not surprising since everything taste better in countries that dont poison and Genetically modify everything). sweeter, softer and better in Europe,

  9. Thanks, that was entertaining and informative.

  10. Connie Zachrich

    Try. Jotting a watermelon roses ways, then all of those slices lengthwise, and you’ll have plugs easy to eat, handle and get the most meat of your melon!

  11. I really do not know the science behind the difference of the cantaloupe and muskmellon, but being raised on a farm, I always thought that they were the same. It is interesting and laughable to know that we, in America, grew
    muskmellons and never, ever grew cantaloupe. My mother told me that the difference looks were different strains of the muskmellon. Then I thought that the two different names came from, being farmers, we called the fruit muskmellon and when I went to the city they were called cantaloupe. I found these comments very interesting.

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