Updated: August 19, 2012 6:01AM
Cantaloupe is a variety of fruit from the melon family. It originated in the Middle East and eventually spread across Europe. Cantaloupe was named after Cantalupo, Italy, the city where cantaloupe was originally cultivated from Armenia melon seeds in the 1700’s. Christopher Columbus transported melon seeds to the United States, which were later cultivated by Spanish explorers in California. Cantaloupe, which is actually called a muskmelon, is the most common melon within the United States.
Where do they grow?
The majority of cantaloupe produced in the United States is grown in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. Imported cantaloupe comes from Mexico and Central America including Costa Rica, Guatemala and Honduras. Cantaloupe is available year-round but their peak season is June through August.
How do they grow?
Cantaloupes are round with a golden tightly netted skin. The inside or flesh is a pinkish orange to bright orange. This melon grows best in sandy, aerated and wellwatered soil, which is free of weeds. Cantaloupe plants are produced by planting melon seeds. The melons grow on vines along the soil.
Are they healthful?
Good source of potassium, vitamin A and C
Contain a high water content
Low in calories and cholesterol and also fat free
How to pick a good one
Choose one which is round, firm and slightly golden
Select cantaloupe with a sweet smell
Avoid those with cracks, soft spots or dark bruises
Did you know that melons are in the same gourd family as squashes and cucumbers?
Did you know that cantaloupe is the most popular melon in the United States?
Did you know that a squirt of lemon or lime juice will enhance or perk up the flavor of a slice of cantaloupe?
Did you know that there are six common sizes of cantaloupe? (The sizes are 9, 12, 15, 18, 23 and 30. They are grouped into specific sizes based on their weight and the number that can fit into a 40-pound case or cardboard shipping box. A size 12 means that there are 12 cantaloupe of similar weight, about 3¼ lbs., in a 40-pound box. The smaller the number, the larger the cantaloupe.)
Did you know by leaving uncut cantaloupe at room temperature for two to four days the fruit will become softer and juicier?
Makes 4 servings (each serving equals ½ cup of fruit or vegetables)
½ cantaloupe (large, ripe)
¾ cup red bell pepper, finely diced
¼ cup cilantro, finely chopped
3 tablespoons scallions, finely chopped
Juice of 1 lime
Pinch of salt and hot pepper flakes
Remove seeds and rind from cantaloupe. (You should have about ½ pound cantaloupe flesh.) Chop cantaloupe into very small dice. Put in bowl. Add diced red pepper, cilantro, scallions and lime juice. Stir. Add pinch of salt and pepper flakes.
Chill. Serve with grilled chicken, fish or steaks.