Here's Why Santa Claus Melon Has Such A Festive Name

Each season brings with it a burst of colorful fruits and veggies freshly plucked from farms and ready for market. Bright red strawberries, raspberries, and watermelons flood farmer's markets every summer; while pumpkins, squashes, and pears come through in the fall; and grapefruits and oranges make an appearance in winter (via USDA).

Juicy melons — honeydew melons in particular — are usually in season in the summer. There's a certain melon though, that remains in season 'til December — and it's fittingly called the Santa Claus Melon (via Food Network). The medium-sized, oval-shaped fruit has a skin with flecks of yellow that tend to get deeper in color as it ripens (via Specialty Produce).

Although native to Spain and South America — where the melon goes by the name Piel de Sapo, meaning "toad skin" in reference to its appearance — Santa Claus melons are grown in California and Arizona in the U.S. as well. While the fruit does grow in a warm and sunny climate, Food Network notes that Santa Claus melons tend to stay fresh for at least two months after they are harvested. This means that the late fall melons can often still be found around the time of Christmas, hence their name.

What do Santa Claus melons taste like?

According to Delighted Cooking, the festive name of the melon doesn't mean that it reaches its peak season in December. The name simply indicates the thick skin of the fruit helps it stay fresh all through summer, after which it can shipped to colder parts of the world where it will keep for another few months.

The Kitchn compares the appearance of a Santa Claus melon to that of a watermelon which, when sliced into, has a pale flesh. It is as cool, sweet, and refreshing as other melons with an equally strong smell — except it's more crisp and less sweet than a honeydew melon. In general, the more sugar scars that you find on its skin, the sweeter it will be.

A Santa Claus melon that hasn't been sliced into will keep for two months or, until the skin becomes bright yellow and starts giving away its shape under your fingers when squeezed into (via Food Network). Once sliced, you can store it for three to five days in the refrigerator and serve the slices with lime and sugar, or you turn it into a smoothie, or add it alongside salty cheese on a Christmas cheese board.