Season for Cantaloupe June – August

Cantaloupe Described

What’s interesting about cantaloupe is that what we refer to as “cantaloupe” in this country, actually isn’t cantaloupe at all. Named for a castle in Italy, the true cantaloupe is a European melon that is rarely exported and has a rough and warty surface unlike the embossed netting of the cantaloupes we know and love. Domestically-grown American “cantaloupes” are actually muskmelons – or hybrids of the two. We’ll go ahead with the flow here, and use the “cantaloupe” moniker for this popular melon that grows on a trailing vine on the ground and is related to pumpkins and squashes. It’s flesh can be orange-yellow to salmon and has a soft and juicy texture with a sweet, musky aroma that indicates the fruit is ripe. 

How to Buy and Store Cantaloupe

When selecting the juiciest, most delicious cantaloupe, opt for those that are heavy for their size. It’s important to select for ripeness and avoid the disappointment of a hard, flavorless melon which often occurs. Smell the fruit to make sure it has a sweet, fruity fragrance and press into the skin making sure it yields slightly to pressure at the blossom end. Avoid melons with soft spots or an overly strong, off-putting odor. Store unripe cantaloupes at room temperature, but once they are ripe, transfer your melons to the refrigerator. They can absorb the odors of nearby food pretty easily, so if refrigerating for more than a day or two, wrap your melon or put it in the crisper by its lonesome. 

How to Cook Cantaloupe

When it comes to cantaloupe, the most important thing is to wash it thoroughly just before preparing and eating: The spaces within the netted rind can hold onto bacteria, most of which can be removed by scrubbing the whole melon with a clean vegetable brush under clean running water. After washing, blot the melon with clean paper towels. Halve the melon from the blossom end to the stem end, scraping out the seeds with a spoon. Wash your knife, and then proceed to cut into your desired shape.

Cantaloupe can be eaten on its own, making a healthy and sweet-tooth satisfying treat. It can also be added to fruit salads or parfaits. Looking for something a little different? Give our Chilled Organic Melon Champagne Soup Recipe or our Organic Figs, Melon Prosciutto and Salami a try. 

Health Benefits of Cantaloupe

Cantaloupe’s bright orange flesh is rich in beta carotene – the precursor to vitamin A – and is an excellent source of vitamin C. Between its beta-carotene and vitamin C content, cantaloupe has its antioxidant areas well covered, protecting our bodies from the damage of free radicals and keeping our eye sight in check. Vitamin C is also critical for good immune function. In addition, cantaloupe has high water content and is a welcome reprise on hot days to stay cool and hydrated.

Why Buy Natural and Organic Cantaloupe

The Environmental Working Group lists cantaloupe among the “Clean Fifteen,” or fruits least likely to test positive for pesticide residues. According to the USDA Pesticide Data Program however, 27 pesticide residues where found on cantaloupe. Because cantaloupes grow so closely to the ground and have a net-like exterior, they may hold on to bacteria and pesticides more heartily than most. But considering we don’t eat the skin, a careful and thorough washing can prevent the transfer of whatever’s trapped in the skin to the flesh of the fruit (though never fool proof!). For peace of mind, we recommend purchasing organically-grown cantaloupes, and washing them well.

image: goldblattser