Summertime is the perfect time to enjoy a delicious cantaloupe. But how do you pick ripe cantaloupe melons at the farmer's market or grocery store? Picking the perfectly ripe melon can be tricky, but with this guide, you will know exactly what to look for!
Look for a melon that is firm to the touch and has no soft spots or bruises. Smell the cantaloupe; it should have a sweet aroma, like honey.
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How To Pick Cantaloupe
Ripe cantaloupes are typically round or oval and have smooth, hard outer skin. The flesh is orange or yellow and is very sweet and juicy.
The blossom end of the melon should give slightly to gentle pressure. If it feels mushy, it is over-ripe. Cantaloupes are generally round or oval, with a ribbed or netted surface. The stem should be intact and attached to the melon.
- When selecting cantaloupe melons at the grocery store, it is important to keep the following in mind:
- When selecting a cantaloupe, tap on the outside and listen for a firm, low tone. A hollow sound might be an indication of a bad one. To tap, I like using my middle finger to thump the melon.
- The cantaloupe should feel heavy for its weight. This tip helps with selecting the sweetest melon. When the melon weighs more than the rest, that's a sign it has more sweetness. A likely winning pick.
If everything looks good, go ahead and buy it.
To pick a ripened cantaloupe, harvest cantaloupes typically between May and late August. However, this can vary depending on the location. For example, in California, cantaloupes are usually in season between April and September.
If you're unsure when cantaloupes are in season in your area, your best bet is to check with your local grocery store or farmer's market.
What Does Cantaloupes Taste and Smell Like?
Ripen cantaloupe melons have a taste described as a mix between honeydew, watermelon, and papaya. They are sweet but not as sweet as honeydew melons and have a soft, smooth texture.
Perfect cantaloupe melons have a sweet smell. Some people say it smells like honey or vanilla. Jasmine, honeysuckle, and citrus are common descriptors for cantaloupe's smell. The melon's aroma comes from various compounds, including terpenes, esters, and aldehydes.
When these chemicals interact, they create the distinct smell of cantaloupe. They also contain small amounts of methanethiol, a sulfur-containing compound that gives the fruit its characteristic aroma.
What To Look For When Picking Cantaloupe
When inspecting, pick a cantaloupe and check the vine stem end, and look for these 3 melon qualities:
- Inverted stem - Indicates that it was picked at the right time and should have a good flavor.
- Smooth edges - The stem should be smooth when cut from the fruit. If you see a jagged edge, this means that it was picked too early.
- Attached stem - If the stem is still attached to the cantaloupe, it was likely picked too soon.
The next time you're at the grocery store, inspect the stem end of the cantaloupes before picking them and adding them to your cart. A little extra effort will go a long way in ensuring that you pick the perfectly ripe cantaloupe.
Can You Freeze Cantaloupe?
When freezing, it is important to remember to remove the seeds first. This is because the seeds will not freeze properly and will ruin the cantaloupe. Once the seeds are removed, you can place them into a freezer-safe bag or container. It will last in the freezer for up to six months. When ready to eat it, thaw it in the refrigerator and enjoy.
How To Store Cantaloupe
Cantaloupes should ideally be stored at temperatures around 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit, with 90 percent humidity. The ideal environment for storing cantaloupes is a cool and dry location.
Cantaloupes should not be exposed to temperatures higher than 60 degrees Fahrenheit or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, as this can cause the fruit to spoil. For optimal storage, keep uncut cantaloupes in the refrigerator for up to one week or in a cool, dry location such as a pantry or shelf for up to two weeks.
If you plan to eat them within the next few days, store cantaloupes at room temperature outside direct sunlight.
Recipes To Try
What about homemade Cantaloupe Ice Cream?