Summer - Cantaloupe

How to select for best flavor:

The best way to tell if a cantaloupe is ripe and ready to eat is by the color of its skin beneath its rough covering net. The skin should be cream-colored, running to orange. The stem, where the melon separated from the vine, should give a little when pushed with the finger. Overall, the cantaloupe should be firm and feel a little heavy for its size. If you smell a ripe cantaloupe, it has a rich, musky scent that hints of its sweet flavor.

 

A common method used to judge the ripeness of cantaloupe is listening for the seeds to rattle inside the melon when it is shaken slightly. This is a very poor method at best. If you happen to be the fifth person to shake the poor melon, its seeds may rattle whether it’s ripe or not. Care in shipping, as well as water volume during various stages of the melon’s growth, could also affect the condition of the seeds.

 

Peak of the season:

The peak of the cantaloupe season is in July. This may vary slightly based on weather and location. Cantaloupe from California and Texas will be available all summer, and you will often find Mexican cantaloupe on the market in the spring. Local growers will offer several varieties late in the season. Typically these local varieties won’t last long. They’re not hardware, so indulge at the first sign of ripeness.

 

Nutritional value:

Cantaloupe is loaded with beta carotene, which is turned into vitamin A in your body. It is also a good source of calcium, phosphorus, potassium and vitamin C. Half a melon contains about 95 calories, 1 gram of fat and about 24 mgs. of sodium.

 

General information:

Cantaloupe may be ripened at home at room temperature. It can be served chilled or at room temperature. After you have cut the melon and discarded the seeds, any uneaten portion should be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated.

 

Marco Polo discovered an exotic treat made from cantaloupe in Afghan Turkestan in the 13th century: Here grow the best melons in the world. They are cut into round slices and dried in the sun. Thus dried they are sweeter than honey and exported to all countries.