How to select the perfect cantaloupe is a frequent topic of debate this time of year, when the orange melons come into season at farmers markets and supermarkets.
The University of California-Davis says there are several signs that a cantaloupe is a good selection. Cantaloupes should:
- Smell like, well, a cantaloupe.
- Have a smooth, rounded stem scar (the spot where the stem meets the melon).
- Yield slightly to pressure on the end opposite of the stem scar.
- Be free of cuts, bruises or other defects.
The university's division of agriculture and natural resources also says that if one side of the melon looks blemished, it's probably just the spot where it rested on the ground. It shouldn't affect the taste too much, if at all.
Cantaloupes will become softer and juicier after harvest, but the sweetness will not increase. If the melon is not ripe when purchased, store it at room temperature for one or two days.
If it is already ripe, store it in the crisper section of your refrigerator, where the humidity tends to be higher. A freshly harvested cantaloupe should last five to 15 days in those conditions, and one purchased at a grocery store should last about five days, depending on the degree of ripeness.
Cantaloupes shouldn't be washed until just before preparing and eating. After washing, blot the melon with clean paper towels to remove excess water.
- 4 cups cantaloupe pieces
- 4 cups chopped peaches
- 6 cups sugar
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon grated orange peel
- 1/2 cup slivered, blanched almonds (optional)
Wash, peel and coarsely chop cantaloupes and peaches. In a large stockpot, combine chopped fruit and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring constantly. There should be just enough liquid to keep fruit from sticking to the pot.
Add sugar and lemon juice, and boil until thick. Add remaining ingredients and boil for 3 minutes.
Ladle the hot conserve into hot, sterile jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. Remove air bubbles using a nonmetal utensil.
Wipe the jar rim and seal immediately with two-piece, self-sealing lids, following manufacturer's instructions.
Source: University of California-Davis
- 2 large cantaloupes, cut in chunks
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- Juice of 1 lime
- 2 tablespoons fresh mint
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
- Mint sprigs for garnish
Place half of the cantaloupe in a blender and add orange juice, lime juice, mint and honey; process until smooth. Add remaining cantaloupe; process until smooth. In a large bowl, combine cantaloupe mixture with yogurt and mix well. Cover and chill until ready to serve. Garnish with a mint sprig.