Cantaloupe is a versatile and delicious fruit. A part of the melon family, it possesses a mildly sweet taste and tends to have a musky odor that lets you know when it has ripened. Cutting through a cantaloupe can be difficult, though.
Cantaloupes have thick skins and rinds that protect the succulent interior fruit, and the spherical shape and hard exterior make this a difficult melon to crack. Luckily, there are a couple of different ways to slice through this fruit. Just remember to always have a cutting board, a sharp knife, and to keep the blade pointing away from yourself.
How to Choose the Best Cantaloupe
Before you can cut a cantaloupe, you need to make sure you have a ripe specimen. Melons that are either under ripe can be ridiculously hard, making them seem like stones. If the cantaloupe is overripe, it will be soft but will taste nasty and can turn to mush in your hands. The solution is then to find the best cantaloupe, or one that is just ripe enough for happy feasting.
Whenever you buy cantaloupe, the first sign that you have a ripe specimen is the odor. A ripe cantaloupe produces a sweet, musky aroma, similar to the scent that comes from the interior flesh once the fruit is cut. If you can’t smell anything, or if the odor is pungent, then there is something wrong with the cantaloupe.
The next step is to feel and examine the rough exterior skin. It should be a golden brown in color rather than green. If the skin does have green, it means the cantaloupe has ripened yet. If it is leaning towards dark brown, then the fruit is going bad and would be unpleasant to eat. Then, gently press your fingernail into the skin. If it gives a little, the fruit is ripe. It’s too hard, it has yet to ripen.
The final way to check for a ripe cantaloupe is to look at the stem. When ripe, this fruit pulls away easily from the vine and should not have a trace of the stem. In fact, the area where the stem once was should look like a small inner belly button. If there is a stem, then the cantaloupe isn’t for you because it hasn’t ripened enough to lose its connection to the vine.
If you are growing cantaloupes in your garden, here are some tips to tell when your homegrown cantaloupes are ripe:
How Nutritious is a Cantaloupe?
Because it is a fruit, cantaloupe is full of essential vitamins and nutrients that help nourish internal and external organs and promote human health. A single serving possesses enough vitamin A to fulfill your daily requirement and enough vitamin C to be 80% of that same requirement. This melon is additionally an excellent source of fiber, which promotes digestive health, and also of potassium.
A single cup of diced cantaloupe only has 53 calories, making it a popular snack. Individuals who eat this fruit regularly can help stave off macular degeneration while also reducing their risk of developing diabetes and heart diseases.
How to Cut a Cantaloupe
Before you cut a cantaloupe, you need to wash it. Although the soft fruit is protected by the durable skin, dirt on the exterior can get inside during the cutting process. The outside can be washed with basic soap and water and then rinsed. If you want, you can pat the melon dry before gathering your main tool: A knife.
Manufacturers actually make special melon knives, which are long blades with a serrated edge ideal for cutting through cantaloupe, watermelon, honeydew, and other muskmelons with thick rinds. If this isn’t available, consider using a sharpened chef’s knife. The goal is to have a utensil with a long, thick blade that can slice through the cantaloupe.
Once you have a good knife, place your cantaloupe on a cutting board. Then, cut it down the middle. You will need to most likely saw through the hard external skin to reach the soft internal flesh. Once the melon is halved, remove the stem and the seeds from the center.
With the inedible portions removed, it’s time to focus on separating the flesh of the cantaloupe from the rind. The best way to do this is to start with a single half. Flip it so the soft interior is face down on the cutting board. Then cut the cantaloupe into four long strips of equal length.
Take each strip one at a time and flip them over. Carefully cut the soft internal cantaloupe into squares, stopping before you reach the rind. Repeat on each strip.
During the next step, you’re going to need to be very careful with the knife. Gently place the blade against the point where the melon meets the rind. Then, carefully slide the knife through the flesh, separating it from the inedible exterior. The chunks will separate and can be placed in a separate bowl. Repeat this step for every wedge, and then repeat the entire process on the other half of the cantaloupe.
What to Eat With It
One of the most popular recipes for cantaloupe is mixing it in delicious fruit salads with other muskmelons. This means utilizing the fruit fresh and consuming it with honeydew and watermelon. Some people also like to mix in raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries for some extra citrus.
If you want to avoid plain fruit salad, consider using the cantaloupe to make muffins, salsa, and even bread. The trick is to dice the cantaloupe into small pieces so it more easily mixes with other ingredients. You can then fold it into muffins, puree the pieces and add them to bread dough, or even combine the fruit with tomatoes, onions, and cilantro for a delicious salsa.
Cutting a cantaloupe doesn’t have to be a difficult process and is actually made much easier by choosing a ripe melon and approaching the task with the proper tools. This versatile fruit works great in numerous recipes and tastes amazing. It’s no wonder it has become a favorite summer treat of many people, possibly including yourself!