The Great Cantaloupe!
Scientific Name: Cucumis melo
The fruit names cantaloupe and muskmelon are used somewhat interchangeably. What is generally called cantaloupe in the west is really a muskmelon, characterized by a webbed surface. Cantaloupes have a smooth and lumpy skin with deep ridges. Cantaloupes were cultivated in Egypt's Nile valley as early as 2000 B.C.
Did you know that cantaloupes and melons are in the same gourd family as squashes and cucumbers. Most melons have similar structure to winter squash with thick flesh and inner seed-filled midsection. The difference between melons and squashes is very simply, it's the way that they are used. Squashes are considered vegetables, while cantaloupe melon is fruit, with sweet and juicy flavor.
Cantaloupes have significant amounts of Vitamins A and C, are a good source of potassium, and contain small amounts of many other minerals. The rind is rich in nutrients so the whole melon may be juiced. In places with a suitable climate, cantaloupes may be grown all year long. However, extra care must be taken for winter varieties as they are particularly susceptible to disease.
Cantaloupes have a sweet fragrance when they are ripe and the blossom end of the fruit should yield to moderate pressure. When you are selecting a cantaloupe, avoid those with a stem, which indicates the cantaloupe was harvested too early. Store unripe cantaloupes in a place out of the sunlight until they are ripe. Then, they may be stored it the refrigerator. Cantaloupes are rich in nutrients that fight disease, including cancer. The cantaloupe should be a frequent and welcome visitor to your table.
Cantaloupes are available year round. Cantaloupe's peak growing and harvesting season is June thru August. The western states of California, Arizona, and Texas provide the majority of the cantaloupe crop in the USA.
If you are watching your weight or not add cantaloupe to your diet because cantaloupe is very low in calories and a good source of beta-carotene, potassium and vitamin C.
Prepare your cantaloupe by always washing melons in warm soapy water before cutting to get rid of any impurity on the rind that might be carried from the knife blade to the flesh by cutting the melon open and remove all seeds and strings. It can be served in many attractive ways: cut into halves, quarters, wedges, or cubes; or the cantaloupe can be scooped out with a melon baller. For melon rings, cut a cantaloupe into thick crosswise slices, scrape out the seeds, and remove the rind, if desired.
Chilled Cantaloupe Soup with Mint
Prep Time:10 minutes
- 1 ripe cantaloupe
- 1 cup of water
- 8 packets splenda or 4 tbs sugar
- 4 sprigs fresh mint
- Juice of 1/2 a lime
- 1 tsp fresh lime zest
- 4 tbs heavy cream
How to Prepare:
Add water, splenda or sugar, mint leaves (save a few for garnish) lime juice and lime zest in a small saucepan and boil for 10-minutes until syrupy.
While it is reducing, seed the cantaloupe and scoop the flesh into a blender.
Pour the syrup over the cantaloupe through a sieve to remove the mint leaves and lime zest.
Pulse a few times to blend and then puree for a few seconds.
Skim the foam off the top and then place in the refrigerator until well chilled for 2-hours.
Serve in chilled bowls with mint leave garnish and a swirl of heavy cream for garnish.