Harvest of the Month – Cantaloupe
Harvest of the Month: The Cantaloupe
By Melissa Vigdor, GSU Dietetic Intern
What is Cantaloupe?
Cantaloupe is a large round fruit with a coarse tan-colored rind and sweet-tasting, soft light orange flesh. The cantaloupe melon is part of the Cucurbitaceae family, which also includes squashes, cucumbers and other melons. The history of the cantaloupe is still unknown, but many believe the cantaloupe originated from Africa or Asia. California produces half of the cantaloupe grown in the United States. This is only a small fraction of what the rest of the world produces annually: 3.5 billion pounds in Turkey, 2.9 billion pounds in Iran and 2.4 billion pounds in Egypt.
A large wedge of cantaloupe provides almost half of the recommended daily value of vitamin C, which assists in fighting against inflammation and infection. It is also an excellent source of vitamin A, a nutrient that aids in vision as well as cell growth and repair. Plus, cantaloupe contains a high amount of the mineral potassium.
How to Select a Ripe Cantaloupe
Often melons are picked before reaching their ideal ripeness, so selecting a ripe cantaloupe is no simple task. Riper melons tend to feel heavy for their size. They also smell sweet on the bottom, and will give slightly if you press against the top of the melon where the stem was attached.
Tapping is another trick that helps determine if the melon is ready to eat. Gently tap on the cantaloupe while listening to see if it makes a dull and low sound. Avoid unripe melons that sound hollow with high pitches. It is also important to choose a melon with a clean rind, free of blemishes and cuts.
How to Grow Cantaloupe
Cantaloupe seeds should be planted an inch deep in soil-filled paper cups about a month before the final frost. Wait to plant your seedlings in the garden until the soil temperature reaches 70 degrees or above. Soil may be covered with plastic film to raise the temperature faster. If you want to save space in your garden and keep your melons off of the ground, add a trellis for the plants to climb. However, once the vine begins to produce fruit, support will need to be added. Soil should be kept moist. Take care not to over or underwater your plants as it can negatively influence the flavor, or kill the plant.
The cantaloupe is ready to harvest when the rough texture on the outside is visible and the when the melon easily pulls away from the stem. For maximum ripeness and sweetness, place your picked melon in a warm place for a couple of days before eating. If you do not plan on consuming the melon within four days, it can be stored in the refrigerator.
Layered Fruit Gazpacho
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Recipe and image taken from Cassie Johnson’s blog at Backtoherroots.com.
• 10 ounces frozen raspberries, thawed
• 2 tablespoons honey
• 12 ounces unsweetened lemon-lime sparkling water
• 5 kiwis, peeled
• 1 teaspoon lime juice
• 1 cup roughly chopped cantaloupe
• 4 kiwi slices, for garnish
• In the basin of a food processor or blender, combine raspberries and honey. Pulse or blend until pureed. Strain raspberry puree through a fine mesh sieve and discard seeds. Mix in lemon-lime sparkling water and set aside.
• Combine the peeled kiwi and lime juice in the clean basin of a food processor or blender. Pulse or blend until pureed. Set aside.
• Add the cantaloupe in the clean basin of a food processor or blender. Pulse or blend until pureed. Set aside.
• To layer gazpacho, gently spoon equal amounts of kiwi puree into each of four bowls or glasses. Repeat with cantaloupe puree and raspberry puree. Garnish with kiwi slices.