Silly Food Fact
Cantaloupe is an imposter! That’s right, the familiar melon with the sweet, orange flesh is not a cantaloupe at all; it is actually a muskmelon. The “true” cantaloupe is only grown in Europe—its name originated from Cantalupo, Italy, where it was first cultivated. All cantaloupes commercially grown in the U.S. are muskmelons. Yet we all call this fruit with its hard, netted rind and juicy, pinkish-orange interior a cantaloupe.
Why Our Bodies Love It
The bright color of cantaloupe shows it is high in beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A, giving healthy eyes and skin. Other nutrients in these melons are vitamin C, potassium, folic acid, fiber, and the vitamin B complex. Use cantaloupe as a super-healthy dessert—it’s tasty, as well as fat-free, low in calories, and high in water content. To boost flavor, simply add a squirt of lemon juice!
Care and Picking
At the grocery story, cantaloupes are best from June through September. Look for firm—but not hard—melons with a concave stem end. Avoid cantaloupes with soft spots or cracks. Sniff for a sweet, musky aroma. For an unbelievable fresh flavor, consider growing your own cantaloupes. Plenty of heat, water, and sunlight are essential. In addition, the melon vines gobble lots of garden area; some home gardeners grow cantaloupe on trellises to conserve space.Learn how to grow cantaloupe in your home garden.
Tips and Warnings
Since commercial cantaloupes are grown on the ground, they can become contaminated with bacteria, such as salmonella. Scrub whole melons under running water before cutting. A produce brush—or even a toothbrush—helps to thoroughly clean the little surface crevices of a cantaloupe. Also, don’t forget to wash your hands with soapy water after handling melons.While it’s okay to leave an uncut cantaloupe at room temperature to ripen for a couple days, refrigerate as soon as ripe. Here’s how to prepare a cantaloupe: