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All About Cantaloupes

Updated on June 18, 2014

The Cantaloupe Melon is a Natural Tasty Treat

Cantaloupes are available almost all year round. These melons are rich in vitamin C, vitamin A and potassium. Cantaloupes are sweet and tasty and can be eaten in a variety of ways. Alone, mixed in a salad or made into a beverage are some of the great ways to enjoy this melon. They can also be grilled or made into soups and sauces. Seeds of the cantaloupe can be eaten as a toasted snack, crushed (along with the stringy center) and made into various refreshing drinks or used in breads and pastries.

The True Cantaloupe vs The American Cantaloupe

Both Are Muskmelons

There are two types of melons. One is the watermelon and the rest belong to the cucumis genus. What we call cantaloupe in the U.S. is really a variety of muskmelon. Smooth skin and netted skin are the two types we are familiar with here. Honeydew melon (Cucumis melo L. Inodorus) is a smooth skinned muskmelon whereas the American cantaloupe (Cucumis melo var. reticulus) is a netted-skinned type. The term reticulus refers to the netted skin. Sometimes you see the American cantaloupe also referred to as Cucumis melo melo var. cantalupensis which is very similar sounding to the true cantaloupe. It is also called rockmelon in Australia.

The true or European cantaloupe (Cucumis melo var. cantalupensis) as seen in Europe is not netted. It has a hard greenish skin that has grooves that are sectioned like some other muskmelons. The true cantaloupe has green or orange flesh that is similar to the American cantaloupe. It has similar flesh, but its skin is light green and ribbed, not netted and brown. The true cantaloupe is not commercially grown in the U.S. but private gardeners still cultivate it. It was popular until the late 19th century when the easier to grow American cantaloupe took over and was called by the same name.

History of The Muskmelon

The true history of our cantaloupe is basically unknown. Ancient writings really did not distinguish between different melons in their depictions of their use. Most sources claim they were first developed in Persia, India or Africa.

Our modern melons are a product of cultivation and crossbreeding. They were probably different than what we have today. You do not find wild cantaloupes in nature. Since people in the U.S. use the term "cantaloupe" for the muskmelon Cucumis melo var.reticulus, and it has become accepted, there is now confusion about which variety of Cucumis melo is being described. The history of the American cantaloupe and the true cantaloupe or European cantaloupe has become merged.

Muskmelons were thought to have been in Andalusia in the 11th and 12th century and introduced to Italy in the late 1400s. Christopher Columbus is given credit with introducing some sort of "cantaloupe" to the New World bringing them as food on his second voyage and the seeds being planted. The name cantaloupe is said to come from a town Cantalupo ( canta= singing) ( lupo= wolf) in Italy which is given credit as the "birthplace" of the cantaloupe. There are several places in Italy with the name "Cantalupo" but no real information as to the real connection with the melon to any of these places. Again this connection is with the true cantaloupe and not the muskmelon.

Cantaloupes on Amazon

Pick A Ripe Melon

When looking for a ripe cantaloupe try to find one that is not bruised, have soft spots or indentations. The skin should not be green on the netting or under the netting. The netting itself should cover the whole fruit and be raised and a khaki tan and between the netting should be yellowish. The melon should feel heavy for its size which means lots of juice should be a little soft not real soft or mushy and not rock hard.. It should have a fragrant cantaloupe smell overall but not too strong or it could be overripe and spoiled. There should be a pleasant smell and If the smell is bad then the cantaloupe has gone bad. When pushed, the disk at the stem end or the blossom end should give a little.

Ripe cantaloupes slip off the vine or the stem will fall evenly off soon after being picked. When you look for your melon you don't want it to have a stem, pieces of stem or see tears or ragged edges. It should be slightly indented and smooth at the stem end. This would indicate it was not picked too soon and the stem fell off or easily separated soon after being picked.

A non ripe cantaloupe can be left to ripen in your kitchen at room temperature from two to four days, it will become more juicy but will not get any sweeter. The cantaloupe should have stayed on the vine until ripe to be sweet but of course some are picked earlier to travel without going bad.

Cutting and Eating This Delicious Fruit

Always wash cantaloupe and scrub with a produce brush and cold running water before cutting into it. Unlike watermelon or honey dew melons, the cantaloupe peel is not smooth. Being rough it is easier for dirt to stick in the grooves. These same dirt and pathogens can spread from the knife into the fresh meat. When finished cutting always wash with soap and water all the utensils, dishes, countertops and cutting boards. Some people prefer to use a weak bleach solution on the cutting boards and countertop. And of course wash your hands before and after. Cut away all bruised and soft spots before consuming it.

A cantaloupe can stay at room temperature to ripen for approximately four days but once it is cut it should not stay unrefrigerated for more than 2 hours. It can stay refrigerated (4°C or 40°F) for up to four days covered in plastic wrap or in a container.

Washing produce helps reduce pesticides. There are several fruit and vegetable washes available but it is cheap and easy to make at home with safe ingredients. One way is to spray or soak fruits and vegetables in a mixture of 2 tablespoonful salt, ¼ cup vinegar and 1 cup water. Another option is to mix 4 Tablespoons of baking soda with 4 Tablespoons of lemon juice and 2 cups of water. Still another is vinegar and water in various strengths, from two tablespoonful of vinegar in a pint of water to a 50/50 solution of both.

Any equipment like the cutting board and knife should be washed with soap and water or a mild bleach solution then rinsed and dried.

Poll on washing your cantaloupe

Do you wash your cantaloupe before cutting into it?

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whole cantaloupe
whole cantaloupe

Pesticides and Bacteria

Nearly 15% of cantaloupes consumed each year in the United States come from Mexico. In 2000,2001 and 2002 Mexican grown Cantaloupes were implicated in an outbreak of salmonella which deaths were involved, so they were banned for awhile. In 2008 some Honduran cantaloupes were taken off the shelves due to salmonella contamination. Cantaloupes like other raw fruits and vegetables can also be contaminated with E-coli and listeria.

It is also believed that the pesticide levels are higher in imported melons even though cantaloupes are on the Environmental Working Groups guide for 15 foods with the least pesticides in them.

It is suggested that if you can't get organic cantaloupe that you buy locally grown (USA) which are available from May to December. I'll reiterate it again to wash the outside skin very thoroughly. only recently (Oct. 2010) there was a voluntary recall of Arizona grown cantaloupes because of potential salmonella contamination and of course the deadly listeria outbreak during the fall of 2011.

Poll on produce brushes

Do you use produce brushes ?

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Making Seed Milk

Seed milk is an alternative to dairy milk that you can make from grains and seeds of some fruits and vegetables. Melons are one of the fruits that this delicious beverage can be made from. Different types of these drinks have been made for a long time all over the world.

We of course enjoy the wonderful sweet taste of the cantaloupe flesh. It has seeds in a fibrous mixture that some people scoop out and throw away. This is such a waste of good nutritious food. There is nothing wrong with the fibers and seeds in the fruit.

One thing you can do is to take out your trusty blender, add water and blend the seeds, juice, fibrous center and any meat that you have left of one cantaloupe until smooth. Next you can strain the mixture and separate the leftover parts of the seed husks. I do not throw these away, just put it aside for later use. You now have an orange colored liquid that you can sweeten to taste. You could put the left over seed husks in stews, soups or baking.

We can just eat the seeds with the fruit. Strawberries, tomatoes and cucumbers have seeds that we hardly notice. Other times we might just scoop or pick them out one at a time. They are put aside while we either eat the fruit or follow a recipe. The local birds would enjoy them or we could put them in the compost bin. They can be enjoyed by just eating them raw or cooked. Seeds like corn can be used as fuel. And of course they are used to make cooking oil.

There are various ways of consuming them but we will concentrate on how we can liquify them and use them as nutritious beverages.

Basic Seed Milk (Mylk) Recipe

1/2 cup raw pumpkin/cantaloupe/sunflower seed

2 cups filtered water

filtered water for soaking

optional depending on use

dates, raisins, vanilla, sweetener, salt

First soak seeds in covered bowl in the refrigerator for two hours to overnight. Take seeds out the water and put into a blender then put in fresh water. Blend until creamy looking. Pour through cheesecloth, nut bag or a strainer. Place in jar and refrigerate, will last a couple of days.

Seed Milk

Have you ever made seed milk?

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How To Drink Your Cantaloupe

Do You Enjoy Eating Cantaloupes?

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    • KarenHC profile image

      Karen 4 years ago from U.S.

      We do enjoy eating cantaloupes, especially my husband (too much bothers my digestive system, unfortunately). There's a lot of good information on this page that I didn't know before.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I found this lens because I am growing the melons in my Aquaponics setup in my back yard being that i am in Australia we call them rock melons. I learnt quite a bit that I didn't know from visiting here thank you for the lens.

    • pcgamehardware profile image

      pcgamehardware 4 years ago

      I love Cantaloupes... Nice lens :)

    • VspaBotanicals profile image

      VspaBotanicals 4 years ago

      Excellent lens my dear. I love this melon, and I also use it in my fruit face masks. Great job on this lens, and it made me hungry:)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Thanks for the section on how to pick a ripe cantaloupe. I often buy cantaloupes that end up not being ripe and I hate that. Also, it was good for me to learn about the dangers of not washing cantaloupes before eating them. I will begin washing them first. Thanks for sharing this lens with us.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I have a question-would it be okay to pour a mild bleach solution over the outside of the muskmelon then rinsing it off before cutting into it? Would that take care of possible salmonella or e coli?

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Cantaloupe is one of my favorite fruits. Yummy! :)

    • EpicFarms profile image

      EpicFarms 5 years ago

      I love cantaloupes! Very nice lens with great information; I'd never heard of seed milk before. Of course now I'm wondering what it tastes like...

    • RetroMom profile image

      RetroMom 5 years ago

      Yes, I do. Nice lens.

    • FallenAngel 483 profile image

      FallenAngel 483 5 years ago

      I love Cantaloupes I just wish I could grow them in my garden but we don't get enough sun.

    • WindyWintersHubs profile image

      WindyWintersHubs 5 years ago from Vancouver Island, BC

      Love eating cantaloupes and especially in fruit salads. Thanks for explaining the differences in cantaloupes. I must get into the habit of washing them, too!

    • ForestBear LM profile image

      ForestBear LM 6 years ago

      Yes I really enjoy them. Nice lens, thank you for sharing

    • profile image

      poutine 6 years ago

      Yes, I do enjoy them now, but when I was younger I couldn't stand them.