How To Pick A Cantaloupe

Variety of ways to cut cantaloupe

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Want to learn how to pick a perfect cantaloupe? Then you will love this guide on how to select, store and serve cantaloupe.

The simple task of selecting the perfect cantaloupe may seem daunting to many moms. With its subtle exterior and hidden flavors, choosing a ripe and delicious cantaloupe requires a combination of sensory awareness and a little know-how. We hope this guide will take a little pressure off and will give you confidence the next time you go to the grocery store to pick the perfect cantaloupe.

What Is A Cantaloupe?

cubed cantaloupe in white dish

Cantaloupe is a type of melon belonging to the Cucurbitaceae family, which also includes cucumbers, squash, and pumpkins. It is characterized by its round to oval shape, rough, netted rind, and sweet, juicy orange flesh. Cantaloupes are known for their refreshing flavor and aromatic fragrance.

Cantaloupes are not only delicious but also nutritious. They are rich in vitamins A and C, as well as potassium and various antioxidants. They are low in calories and fat, making them a healthy addition to any diet. With their tantalizing taste and versatility in the kitchen, cantaloupes remain a beloved fruit enjoyed by people around the world.

How To Pick A Ripe Cantaloupe

Box of Cantaloupes

Choosing the perfect cantaloupe can be a bit of an art form, but fear not we are sharing our secrets! With a few simple tips and tricks, you can become a cantaloupe connoisseur and ensure that every melon you bring home is ripe, juicy, and bursting with flavor. At the end of the day, trust your senses to pick out your perfect cantaloupe.

How to Pick a Cantaloupe: Appearance

The first step in selecting a cantaloupe is to look it over. You want a melon that has a smooth, evenly-colored rind with minimal bruises, cracks or soft spots. A ripe cantaloupe should have a creamy yellow or golden hue, although some green undertones are perfectly normal. Plus, the netting pattern of a cantaloupe becomes more pronounced as it ripens.

The stem end of a cantaloupe can also provide clues about its ripeness. Look for a slight indentation or a small amount of give when you press gently on the stem end. If the area around the stem feels too firm, the cantaloupe may not be fully ripe

How to Pick a Cantaloupe: Aroma

A ripe cantaloupe should have a sweet, fruity aroma at the blossom end (the end opposite of the stem). If it smells slightly sweet and fragrant, it’s likely ripe and ready to eat. If it has no aroma or smells slightly sour, it may need more time to ripen.

How to Pick a Cantaloupe: Weight Test

Just like watermelon, picking up a cantaloupe can help gauge whether the cantaloupe is ripe. They should feel heavy for their size. A heavier melon indicates that it’s full of juicy flesh, while a lighter melon may be lacking in moisture and flavor.

How To Store Cantaloupe

You can store fresh cantaloupe in the fridge, freezer or on the countertop, much like watermelon or honeydew. Before storing, wash the cantaloupe under cool running water. If a cantaloupe needs to ripen, store at room temperature for up to 2 days. If you keep it in a closed paper bag, it can help speed up the process.

Storing Whole Cantaloupe

Whole melons will keep on the countertop in a cool, dry spot for 2-3 days. It can last up to five days in the fridge. If your cantaloupe is not fully ripe, leave it on the kitchen counter at room temperature for a day or two to allow it to mature.

Storing Sliced Cantaloupe

Sliced Cantaloupe on red checkered cloth

The best way to keep cut cantaloupe is in an airtight container inside your fridge. We recommend not removing the seeds when cutting your cantaloupe because it can help prolong the melon’s shelf life. If you do not have an airtight container, wrap the slices in plastic wrap or place them in plastic bags. Cantaloupe slices will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Storing Cubed Cantaloupe

Cubed Cantaloupe in a container

If you are eager to cut and cube  your cantaloupe, it will last in the fridge in an airtight container for 1-2 days. To cube the fruit, you should start by taking off the top and the tail of the fruit so it will stand. Then, slice the rind off your cantaloupe using a sharp knife. Finally, cut the orange flesh into evenly sized pieces. 

Produce Moms Tip: Add a little lemon juice to the cut melon cubes in order to help keep them fresh. 

Once you have the cantaloupe cubed, place them in an airtight container with paper towels. Lay your melon cubes out in a single layer on the paper towel. Allow for a bit of headspace in your container to prevent too much moisture from building up to help prevent spoilage.

How To Freeze Cantaloupe

You can easily preserve a cantaloupe by freezing it. If done properly, it can last up to 6 months without losing any sweetness.

Just like when you are preparing to enjoy the cantaloupe, you start with washing the fruit under cold running water. 

To freeze, we suggest that you cut the cantaloupe into slices or cubes. How you cut the melon will depend on how you want to use it. We recommend sprinkling a little sugar over the cantaloupe slices or cubes to help preserve their color and taste during the freezing process. 

In order to prevent freezer burn, we suggest that you flash freeze the melon pieces before storing for long-term storage. You can do this by placing the cantaloupe pieces in a single layer on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Then freeze the tray for one to two hours before adding them to their storage container or bag.

Place your semi-frozen cantaloupe in a freezer bag or airtight container and label it with the freezing date. Keep individual serving sizes of cantaloupe in small containers for easy snacking. Cantaloupe will keep in the freezer for up to six months. 

When you are ready to enjoy the cantaloupe, defrost at room temperature or in the fridge. You can eat cantaloupe pieces straight out of the freezer, but it’s best to defrost them if serving as part of a recipe. Place the frozen melon pieces in the fridge overnight to defrost. You can also leave them out on the countertop at room temperature for one to two hours before enjoying them. 

Enjoying Cantaloupe

Cuped Cantaloupe ind white dish

Cantaloupe is a very versatile fruit that can be enjoyed in numerous delicious ways. You can enjoy it on its own or as part of a recipe. Below are some tasty ways we think that you should try: 

Fresh and Simple: Sometimes, the best way to enjoy cantaloupe is in its purest form. Simply slice the cantaloupe into wedges, cubes, or balls and enjoy it as a refreshing snack on a hot day. Its natural sweetness and juicy texture make it a satisfying treat all on its own. It is great for charcuterie, snack boards, or even snackle boxes.

Salad: Combine cubed cantaloupe with other fruits like honeydew melon, watermelon, and berries to create a vibrant and refreshing fruit salad. Add a splash of lime juice or a sprinkle of fresh mint leaves for an extra burst of flavor. One of our favorite summer recipes is our Cucumber and Melon Salad.

Smoothie: Blend ripe cantaloupe with yogurt, honey, and a handful of ice cubes to create a creamy and nutritious smoothie. You can also experiment with adding other fruits like banana or pineapple for added flavor complexity.

Salsa: Dice cantaloupe and combine it with chopped red onion, jalapeno peppers, cilantro, lime juice, and a pinch of salt to create a unique and flavorful salsa. Serve it with tortilla chips for a refreshing twist on traditional salsa.

Grilled: Slice cantaloupe into thick wedges and grill them for a few minutes on each side until they develop grill marks. The heat caramelizes the sugars in the cantaloupe, creating a sweet and smoky flavor that pairs well with savory dishes like grilled chicken or pork. You can even add them to kabobs for grilling and see the flavor intensify.

Sorbet: Freeze cubed cantaloupe until solid, then blend it in a food processor with a splash of orange juice and honey until smooth and creamy. Transfer the mixture to a shallow dish and freeze until firm. Serve scoops of cantaloupe sorbet for a light and refreshing dessert.

Cocktails: Use pureed cantaloupe as a base for cocktails like margaritas or mojitos. Add a splash of rum, tequila, or vodka, along with fresh lime juice and simple syrup, for a refreshing and summery drink. Not interested in a cocktail? You can also enjoy a simple Cantaloupe Agua Fresca to stay hydrated.

Desserts: Incorporate cantaloupe into desserts like fruit tarts, popsicles, or sorbet float for a sweet and refreshing treat. Its natural sweetness and vibrant color add a unique twist to traditional dessert recipes.

No matter how you choose to enjoy it, cantaloupe is delicious and versatile! Experiment with these ideas and get creative in the kitchen to discover your favorite ways to savor this summer staple.

Follow us on Instagram and Pinterest for more ways to enjoy cantaloupe.

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About Kristin

Kristin Ahaus is the Director of Content and Communications for The Produce Moms. Her focus and passion is helping all of TPM's brand partners share their stories while also helping consumers understand how to select, serve and store fresh produce. Connect with Kristin on LinkedIN.

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