Everything You Need to Know About Preparing and Storing In Season Cantaloupe
Plus, 3 new recipes
The best way to shop? With the seasons. So, every 2 weeks at Kitchen Stories, we'll be highlighting a different in-season ingredient along with 3 new recipes. To the market, we go!
Call me a food nerd, but one of my favorite things about food writing often presents itself in the research. You’d be surprised by how many of our beloved foods carry mythical tales, fabricated origins, and, in the case with cantaloupe, a rumored anecdote featuring Pope Paul II. Legend has it that the pope loved these plump orange melons so much, he died after eating two whole ones in one sitting. True or not, could you really blame him?
Cantaloupe is a low-carb fruit that’s rich in vitamins A, C, and folate, which aid in healthy red blood cells, support our immune systems, and produce collagen for healthier skin. It’s also 90% water, making it a wonderful post-workout snack. At the peak of their season, cantaloupes are pulpy, sweet, and just a touch floral—all the traits you could want from a food when it’s sweltering outside.
1. When and how to buy cantaloupe
Depending on where you live, cantaloupes might be available all-year round, but if you want the freshest and sweetest varieties, summer is when these melons thrive.
Choose cantaloupes that are heavy and firm, and feel around the melon to make sure there are no soft or squishy parts, an indication that it’s overripe. You should be able to feel the crackly webbing on the rind with your fingertips and the color in between the webs should be light gold or pale yellow rather than green. As with many fruits, don’t be afraid to give it a sniff! Ripe cantaloupes carry a fruity, slightly musky smell that’s a reflection of the tantalizing treasure inside.
2. Storing and preparing cantaloupe
Whole unripe cantaloupe can be kept at room temperature until they ripen. Only cut the cantaloupe when it’s ready to be eaten. If uncut and left whole, ripened cantaloupe can be stored in the fridge, where it’ll stay juicy for up to one week. For cut wedges of cantaloupe, store in an airtight container for up to 3 days. If you can, store the wedges with the seeds intact as they’ll prevent the flesh from drying out.
To cut a cantaloupe, simply slice off the bottom and top ends of the melon so that it sits upright on a cutting board. This helps to stabilize the melon while you slice it. Take your knife and follow the shape of the fruit from top to bottom to remove the rind, then halve, scoop out the seeds, and chop, dice, or slice the flesh. Like pumpkins, cantaloupe seeds are totally edible so don’t throw them out! Simply wash and dry them and enjoy raw as a snack or roast them and add to salads for an extra crunch.
3. All the ways to enjoy in season cantaloupe
In my humble opinion, what makes cantaloupe such a magical melon amidst other melon stars like honeydew and watermelon, is its adaptability. Eaten on its own or tossed in salads, cantaloupe can provide refreshment on a hot summer afternoon. It can also be puréed into smoothies, ice cream, or gazpacho. But cantaloupe’s offerings don’t end in the realm of sweet recipes. This muskmelon works exceptionally well in salty dishes alongside feta cheese, olives, pancetta, or, as the Italians do it, with gossamer shavings of prosciutto wrapped around them. In fact, if you’ve accidentally picked an unripe cantaloupe, the best thing to do is use it in a savory recipe.
4. What to make next
All week long, we'll be featuring new cantaloupe recipes on Kitchen Stories. Check back to see what's new, then try one for yourself! Here's where to start:
Published on June 21, 2020