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Seasonal Produce: Cantaloupe

Did you know that U.S. cantaloupes are actually a type of muskmelon? True cantaloupes, named for Cantalupo, Italy, are mainly grown in Europe and are quite different from the American type that are at their peak June through October.

Sweet, juicy and fragrant, cantaloupes can be served as appetizers, desserts or beverages. The large seed cavity in the pale orange flesh can also be hollowed out and filled with other fruits or salads. Muskmelons, which are usually sold only at farmers' markets, are larger and a bit sweeter than cantaloupes but can be used in the same ways.

Purchasing

  • Select cantaloupes that are heavy for their size with a strong, sweet fragrance.
  • The netting on the skin should be thick and well raised.
  • Ripe melons yield slightly to pressure at the blossom end. Avoid any fruit with soft spots or an overly strong aroma.
  • Cantaloupes continue to ripen after harvesting. Store unripe melons at room temperature for 2 or 3 days.
  • Refrigerate ripe cantaloupes for up to 4 days, wrapping them in plastic wrap as they easily absorb other food odors.
  • Wrap cut melons with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Preparing

  • Wash cantaloupes thoroughly just before slicing.
  • Cut in half crosswise and scoop out and discard the seeds. Cut into quarters or wedges and eat with a teaspoon, removing the flesh from the rind.
  • Use a gadget called a melon baller to scoop perfectly shaped spheres from cantaloupe halves. The melon balls make a pretty addition to fruit salads.
  • To remove the rind from cantaloupe wedges, use a sharp knife to cut through the fleshy part of the fruit nearest the outer skin. Serve the wedges whole or cut them crosswise into cubes.

Nutrition

  • Excellent source of vitamins A and C.

Serving

  • Wrap strips of prosciutto around thin cantaloupe wedges for an easy-and classic-summer appetizer.
  • Toss cantaloupe cubes or balls into green salads for instant color and sweet flavor. Top with a drizzle of Kraft Ranch or Catalina Dressing.
  • Jazz up your favorite fruit and yogurt smoothie with the seasonal addition of juicy cantaloupe chunks.
  • Purée ripe cantaloupe in a food processor or blender and serve as a refreshing cold soup topped with fresh berries and a dollop of Breakstone's or Knudsen Sour Cream.
  • Stuff the hollowed out centers of cantaloupe halves with a creamy chicken or tuna salad for a quick and easy meal. Or fill with fresh berries or scoops of vanilla ice cream for a cool summer dessert.
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