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.


27 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!

    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.


    • 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.

  12. I got this from the Illinois extension web site. This is part of an article on their site written by an extension educator & horticulturist. She makes a statement that makes it very clear & easy to remember…”All cantaloupes are muskmelons, but not all muskmelons are cantaloupes”.
    “The term cantaloupe refers to two varieties of muskmelon. What we typically call a cantaloupe is Cucumis melo reticulatus, also called the North American cantaloupe. The variety name reticulatus refers to the net-like appearance of the skin, also called reticulated. The other variety, European cantaloupe, Cucumis melo cantalupensis, has ribbed light green skin and looks nothing like what we commonly call cantaloupe.
    While both of these cantaloupe varieties are muskmelons, not all muskmelons are cantaloupes. The name muskmelon comes from the sweet fragrance of the ripe fruit. The term musk comes from a Persian word for perfume, and melon is a French word derived from the Latin melopepo, which means “apple-shaped melon”. There are many different types of muskmelons, with a wide variety of shapes, sizes, flesh color and flavor.
    Muskmelons, including cantaloupe are native to Persia, which is present-day Iran. The oldest pictoral record of muskmelon appears to be in an Egyptian illustration dating back to 2400 B.C. Historical records give indications that the Greeks grew muskmelon back in 300 B.C. Cultivation of muskmelon spread slowly westward, and by the late 15th century, Christopher Columbus carried muskmelon seeds with him on one of his voyages to the New World.”
    As far as cutting. There’s only one way I cut them or ever seen them cut. Cut it in half from stem end to end, scoop out the seeds. Be careful not to scrape or scoop out any of the melon, that’s the sweetest part. Next cut along the ribs into wedges & peel. Be sure you peel all of the green off. If you want smaller size pieces cut each wedge in half length wise. If too long for your container, cut the pieces in half.

  13. dumb dumb answer

  14. According to this article listed below, cantaloupes grow in both places. All cantaloupes are muskmelons but not all muskmelons are cantaloupes.


  15. There is more to the answer than just that. Cantaloupe are Musk Melon but not all Musk Melon are Cantaloupe. Musk Melon is a French name, musk means perfume.

  16. One of them is sweeter than the other, I forget which. Love cantaloupe (or muskmelon) juice – plain, no sugar added. I remember a Friends episode where breast milk is likened to cantaloupe juice. That briefly put me off the juice, but am on the bandwagon again. We get LOADS of it in summer in India, and considering that most of the year is summer in this part of the world, I am a happy camper.

  17. R L Stock

    You need to do even a little bit of internet research, and not just trust the hand-me-down homespun ‘knowledge’. Just about anywhere you will find that Cantaloupes are a variety of muskmelon.

    As for east coast – west coast, I grew up on the east coast and never heard of muskmelon until I moved west.

  18. Diana Cooper

    I grew up in southern Michigan and the melons that are called cantaloupes here in California are called muskmelons back there. They look and taste the same. I’m lucky enough to live in Santa Cruz, CA and the many farmers’ markets sell quite an array of different types of melons: Crenshaw, Persian, Honeydew and more. Your obsession with melons would go wild!

  19. I’ve seen all the education articles, and nobody knows or cares. Everyone eats the one on the right because that’s usually whats in the stores labeled as cantaloupe. I grew up on the east coast and they look exactly the same and are called the same. If they look like a cantaloupe I’m calling them cantaloupe. Why do people try to make things so complicated? nobody cares, as long as it’s sweet and orangey looking inside it’s fine with everyone.

  20. This is how I was taught to cut them. Use a sharp chef knife, cut some of the skin away, cutting just below the tough outer layer. Now that you can see the “meat” use that line to guide the next slice, cutting away the tough outer layer. If you use the previous cut as a guide, and make shallow cuts, you should end up with a naked melon. Now, cut in half. Take a spoon to scoop away the seeds. I usually try to get the pulp that’s really soft, too. That part will go bad faster than the meat that’s a little more solid. Now you can slice how you like. It’s a little more work this way, but it’s easier when you want to snack on it later.

    • Robert @ hisandhershomesteading

      I appreciate your perspective, Joshua. Thanks for stopping by.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s