Kudos to Cantaloupe
Bright orange slices of cantaloupe are a summertime favorite! But how much do you know about this delicious melon? It turns out, thereâ€™s a lot of nutrition hiding under that unassuming rindâ€¦and a story that spans 600 years!
While thereâ€™s still debate as to when and where cantaloupe originated, the name was inspired by the town of Cantaloupo, near Rome in Italy. There, cantaloupes were grown in the 1400s, using seeds brought from Armenia. Cantaloupe is part of the muskmelon family, and is a member of the same plant family as cucumbers, pumpkins, squashes, gourds and numerous other melons.
How itâ€™s grown: Cantaloupe grows on a vine on the ground, much like other melons. It grows best in a hot, dry climate with a relatively long growing season. Many of the cantaloupes available in the U.S. are imported from countries such as Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica and Mexico. California is the largest producer of cantaloupe domestically.
How to shop for it: A ripe melon will feel slightly heavy for its size. The stem end should be smooth and well-rounded and should give a little when lightly pressed. If it gives too much, the melon is overripe. Finally, the blossom end of the melon (opposite the stem end) will be fragrant and have a sweet, musky aroma. If the scent is faint or nonexistent, the melon is not ripe. Look for a melon with uniform color and little to no visible bruising.
How to store it: An uncut, underripe cantaloupe can be stored at room temperature until itâ€™s ripe. However, store whole ripe cantaloupes in the refrigerator, preferably in a crisper drawer, for up to 4 days after purchase. Once cut, the cantaloupe pieces can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.
How to prepare it: Cantaloupe should be rinsed with cold water immediately prior to slicing. Handle cantaloupe with clean, freshly washed hands. Clean knives and cutting surfaces should also be used. First, cut the melon in half from the stem end, then scoop the seeds out before slicing it into wedges.
How to eat it: Cantaloupe seeds can make a quick snack. Place the seeds in a fine mesh strainer and rinse under cold water. The seeds should be placed in a single layer on a cookie sheet and then lightly roasted at 160Â° F for 15-20 minutes. Cantaloupe prepared with a melon baller can be used for a refreshing caprese salad with mozzarella balls, basil and prosciutto. Also try sliced melon with chili flakes and lime juice for a unique and flavorful twist.
Nutritional highlights: Cantaloupe is an excellent source of vitamins A and C, in addition to potassium, dietary fiber, B vitamins, folate, magnesium, copper and vitamin K.
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