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Kitchener Market 2017

Cantaloupe

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Preview of Cantaloupe

Available

August 1 - September 30

Harvest Period

August 1 - September 15

Cantaloupe is a round melon with firm, moderately-sweet flesh and a thin, tan rind that has earned it the name “rock melon” in Australia and New Zealand.  However, what we call cantaloupe in Canada is actually a muskmelon. True cantaloupes are mainly grown in Europe and have a rough, warty surface quite different from the melons grown here.  Canadian “cantaloupe” is the most nutritious melon of all and is related to the squash family, somewhere between the winter and summer squash in terms of nutrition.

 

What to Look For

 

Look for firm fruit that is free of spots and bruises. Avoid cantaloupes with a large bald or smooth spot on their surface. However, surface colour bleaching on one side is acceptable as that indicates where the melon touched the ground. Look for cantaloupes that have a smooth stem end, which indicates that the melon detached from the stem of the plant naturally, with little effort, and therefore was not picked too early. It is also important to look for melons that have a good fragrance, because that usually indicates good taste. Melons should be firm with a little give, not overly soft, particularly at the stem end. When ripe, a whole cantaloupe has a khaki-colored (not green) skin.

 

If you purchase cut melon, make sure it has been properly refrigerated (not simply stored on ice) and doesn’t look slimy.   

 

Cleaning and Preparation

 

Because melons are grown on the ground and the rind can easily become contaminated by pathogens in the soil or from manure, it is imperative that they be handled properly before consumption. Scrub the rind briskly with a produce brush before cutting. Though we do not eat the rind, bacteria can be transferred from the rind to the flesh of the fruit when cutting. After cutting, thoroughly wash all implements used (cutting board, knife, etc.) with hot soapy water.  

 

The easiest way to prepare a melon is to cut it in half, then into quarters and remove the seeds.  The quarters can then be sliced into smaller wedges. Or, the rind can be removed and the quarters cut into chunks.

 

Storage

 

Melons will ripen after they are picked but their sugar content won't increase. It will take up to four days for melons to ripen at room temperature. Since melons are ethylene sensitive, they will ripen more rapidly in the presence of ethylene-producing fruit such as bananas and pears. Whole melons can be stored at room temperature for up to four days or in the refrigerator for up to one week. Cut cantaloupe should be wrapped and stored in the refrigerator.  Bring to room temperature before serving.

 

To freeze, slice ripe, firm  cantaloupe into chunks or balls and flash freeze (spread on a pan in one layer and freeze solid), then place into freezer bags or containers.

 

Nutritional Information

 

The orange flesh of this fruit is rich in beta carotene and is a very good source of potassium and vitamin C. In addition,  cantaloupe has a high water content and is good to consume on hot days to stay hydrated.

 

One cup (160g) of cubed cantaloupe provides 54 calories, 0g fat, 14g carbohydrate, 1g dietary fiber, and 1g protein.

 

How to Use

 

Cantaloupe is normally eaten as a fresh fruit, as a salad, or as a dessert with ice cream or custard. Melon pieces wrapped in prosciutto are a familiar modern antipasto. Although melons don’t particularly freeze well, the addition of several chunks of frozen melon to a smoothie can add a lot of texture and flavour.