You can’t go wrong with cantaloupe

Post image for You can’t go wrong with cantaloupe

This summery fruit is dripping with sweetness

It’s not unusual to see area farm stands with signs touting “candy lopes.”

At the height of the melon season, candy is the perfect way to describe the cantaloupe’s super juicy, sweet flavor. A drippy wedge or a cup of cold cubes is certainly one of summer’s most terrific hand-to-mouth snacks.

But a not-yet-ripe cantaloupe, really a muskmelon, that hasn’t quite reached its potential can be a disappointment. Instead of sweet, the taste can be almost vegetative, perhaps not so surprising given it belongs to the same family as the squash, pumpkin and gourd.

In Japan, cantaloupe is expensive and highly prized. It’s often sold wrapped with a bow and carefully nestled in a box at upscale fruit shops in Tokyo’s high-end Ginza shopping district. The gift of a cantaloupe, often bought to impress, is a show of respect.

Luckily for us, cantaloupe is much more plentiful and not so costly. You can certainly find cantaloupe year-round in supermarkets, but North American muskmelons are best eaten June through August when the flesh ranges in hues from soft tangerine to almost salmon pink.

When hunting down a ripe melon, pick it up and breathe in the aroma, which should be sweet and fragrant. Too much perfume, however, may mean overripe, fermented fruit.

A cantaloupe should be heavy for its size and have a firm (but not rock-hard) exterior with no blemishes or soft spots. And the rind, underneath the netting, should be yellow or creamy.

Look at the area where the stem was attached that’s known as a full slip. It should have a clean, smooth indentation. If the edge is jagged, the cantaloupe was picked before maturity. Keep looking.

Finally, some say to tap the melon with a knuckle. If a hollow sound is heard, the melon may have earned a spot in your shopping bag.

Keep uncut melons at room temperature until fully ripened, then refrigerate for up to 5 days. Cut melon can absorb food odors, so keep cantaloupe tightly wrapped with plastic and refrigerate for up to three days.


Previous post:

Next post: