Harvesting and Using Fresh Cantaloupe

Harvesting and Using Fresh Cantaloupe
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Cantaloupe, is a muskmelon, as are the Casaba, honeydew, Persian and Crenshaw melons. Growing up I loved cantaloupe more than watermelon. Now, my daughter who is three, can eat half a cantaloupe at a time and definitely rivals my love of this rough skinned melon. I chill cantaloupe, cut it into large cubes after removing the seeds and rind, and keep it in a covered container for the kids to munch on. It's rich in Vitamin A and Vitamin C, as well as potassium and folic acid, but it's low in calories, fat and sodium. Who needs candy?
Cantaloupe should have a yellowish orange color and be just slightly soft ONLY on the stem end. This end should also be a rounded small cavity with no pieces of stem left. This would mean it was picked before it was ripe. There may be some bleaching on the skin where the melon was laying on the soil, and that is okay, but it shouldn't be green or have dark, soft spots.

Cantaloupes are ripe when they pull off the vine with ease...no pulling should be necessary. You'll want to watch the fruit carefully and harvest daily once they start to ripen. Some people "thump" their melons and listen for a hollow sound which means they are ripe. This of course, is not as easy as it sounds, if you've never listened to a melon before! You can also look for the base of the stem to look cracked, which is a sign it will pull off easily. Refrigerate melons immediately after harvesting or bringing home from the market.

To freeze cantaloupe in balls, slices or cubes, use only firm, ripe fruit. Cut the melon in half, remove any seeds and cut out the fruit from the rind. Place melon directly in containers, label, date and freeze. If you want the melon to keep it's shape, place the pieces on a cookie sheet and freeze overnight. The next morning, transfer the frozen fruit to plastic freezer bags or containers. Return to the freezer and use as needed. The frozen melon should keep up to a year in the freezer.

A unique way to eat is cantaloupe is to grill it first. Cut it into wedges, lay carefully on the grill just long enough for the grill to "mark it" and it will soften up and caramelize the natural sugar. Serve with vanilla ice cream for a real treat.

Cantaloupe Soup


3 cups diced cantaloupe

3/4 cup orange juice

1/4 cup lemon juice

2 teaspoons chopped candied ginger

1/2 cup soy milk, half and half or whole milk

In a food processor or blender, combine 2 cups of cantaloupe, orange juice, lemon juice and ginger. Process until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and stir in milk and remaining cup of cantaloupe, diced small. Serve chilled, garnished with slivers of candied ginger, if desired. Note: I like the vanilla soymilk.

Strawberry-Cantaloupe Soup


1/2 medium cantaloupe; peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks

1 cup fresh strawberries or raspberries

1 small ripe banana; peeled, and cut into thick slices

1/2 cup unsweetened pineapple juice

1/2 cup nonfat or regular vanilla yogurt

In food processor or blender, process cantaloupe, berries, banana and juice until smooth. Add yogurt. Process until well combined. Serve immediately, or cover and chill until serving time. This recipe yields three one cup servings.

Cantaloupe Smoothie


1 cup orange juice

1 cup peeled, seeded and cubed cantaloupe

honey to taste

1 cup ice

Place the juice, fruit and honey in a blender. Blend on high speed for 30 seconds. Add ice and blend until smooth.

Cantaloupe with Mint Syrup


1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 cup water

2 tbsp. mint, crushed

1 cup blueberries

2 cups cantaloupe balls

mint for garnish

Combine sugar, water and crushed mint in a saucepan. Boil for three minutes. Strain and chill. Add blueberries and cantaloupe balls to the sugar mixture. Serve as in pretty dishes with a spoonful of whipped topping.

Cantaloupe Cream Pie


1 cup granulated sugar

2 tbsp. flour

3 eggs, beaten

1 cup cantaloupe, pureed

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 tbsp. butter or margarine

1 8" pastry shell, baked

1 cup whipped cream

Combine the sugar and flour in a saucepan; add eggs, mixing well. Stir in the cantaloupe puree. Cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring constantly, until the mixture boils and thickens. Remove from heat, and stir in the vanilla and butter. Cool. Pour cooled filling into the baked pastry shell; spread the top evenly with whipped cream. Chill and serve.

Cantaloupe Bread


3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 cup pecans, chopped

3 eggs

1 cup vegetable oil

2 cups granulated sugar

3 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 ripe cantaloupe

Preheat oven to 325F (160C). Grease a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan. In large bowl combine the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and nuts. In another large bowl beat the eggs until light and frothy. Add the oil, sugar and vanilla, mixing well. Cut the rind from cantaloupe; and cut the melon into 2-inch chunks. Puree in blender or food processor until smooth. Measure 2 cups puree and add to the egg/oil mixture. Add the flour mixture to the cantaloupe mixture and stir until just combined. Do not over mix. Spoon into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour, or until it tests done. Allow to stand for 10 minutes before removing from the pan. Cool on a wire rack.

Cantaloupe Preserves


6 pounds cantaloupe peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2" cubes

2 tsp. grated lemon peel

8 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup lemon juice

2 cup golden yellow raisins

Place the cantaloupe cubes in a large bowl. Toss with the sugar and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to stand at room temperature for 8 - 10 hours. Add to a stockpot with remaining ingredients. Bring all to a boil and cook until the mixture starts to thicken, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and skim off any foam. Ladle into sterilized jars, leaving 1/2" space at top. Seal and process for 10 minutes. Makes 7 or 8 half pints.

Cantaloupe Preserves


2 pounds firm, ripe cantaloupe

4 cup sugar

juice of 1 lemon

Peel cantaloupe and cut in thin slices 1" long. Mix sugar and cantaloupe. Stand overnight. Add lemon juice and cook until clear in a large pot. Pour into hot jars. Adjust lids at once and process in boiling water bath for 5 minutes. Makes about 2 pints

More on Melon:

Watermelon Recipes

A Fruit Buffet

Fruit Salads


About The Author

Brenda Hyde is a freelance writer living on ten acres in rural Michigan with her husband and three kids. She is a mom, grandma, gardener, cook and writer. She blogs on all of these topics at Harvestmoongazette.blogspot.com.


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