Fun Facts About Cantaloupe and How to Pick the Best One
Did you know cantaloupe is in season right now through the month of September in southern Maryland? There are many great farms all over southern Maryland from which to pick up farm-fresh cantaloupe. Here are some fun facts about cantaloupe as well as tips for picking out the best one at the produce stand.
Eight fun and interesting facts about Cantaloupe
Cantaloupe isn’t really Cantaloupe: the large round melon most widely recognized as a cantaloupe in the United States is actually a reticulated muskmelon. The North American muskmelon is recognized for its webbed skin and strong fresh scent. In Europe is where actual Cantaloupe is grown, which is a pale green melon with ribbed skin.
The actual Cantaloupe gets its name from a town in Italy: there’s a town called Cantalupo, Italy where cantaloupe seeds arrived from Armenia and were planted people’s gardens in the 16th century. This is where Cantaloupe got its name.
The American cantaloupe has several melon relatives: the American melon that we call cantaloupe is a member of a vine family known as Cucurbitaceae. This family includes fruits such as other melons, squash, cucumbers, pumpkins, and gourds.
Nobody really knows where Cantaloupe actually came from: no one can really pinpoint where cantaloupe exactly first showed up on the planet. Some historians believe they can trace the origins of muskmelon or cantaloupe to biblical times in Egypt and Greece. The first illustrated reference to cantaloupe dates back to 2400 BC in Egypt. It is believed that Christopher Columbus brought muskmelon seeds to America in his voyages.
Cantaloupe is full of nutrition and low on calories: an average size whole cantaloupe contains only 100 calories, which means you could eat the whole thing guilt-free.
It is easy to tell when a cantaloupe is ready to harvest: when cantaloupe is ready for market, or to pick and eat, it will naturally slip from the vine and the skin will turn creamy beige.
Cantaloupe is the most popular melon across the country
Cantaloupe is a nutrient powerhouse: in the cantaloupe, you can find vitamins and antioxidants including beta carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin and cryptoxanthin. These nutrients can help to protect against cancers such as:, breast, prostate, endometrial, lung, and pancreatic cancers.
Tips for picking the best Cantaloupe
Choosing a perfect muskmelon, or cantaloupe can be a tricky task if you do not know what you are doing. There is nothing as disappointing as taking a trip out to one of the great amazing farms of southern Maryland and getting a cantaloupe only to cut into it and find that it does not taste like the ripe and sweet goodness you were expecting. Another fact about cantaloupe is that it won’t ripen further when you get home, so there’s no way to fix picking out the wrong one.
Here’s how to tell if your cantaloupe is ripe:
Give it a good inspection: the color of the rind should be beige or a creamy sandy gold sort of color, but not green in any way. The webbing on the skin, or series of lines, should appear to be raised up. If you find a large smooth yellow spot this indicates that it was resting in the field and fell from the vine on its own, this is the surest sign of ripeness.
Look at the stem: one of the ends of the cantaloupe is the stem, and it should appear round, smooth, and slightly indented. There should not be any part of the stem still attached, because as stated above, ripe cantaloupes naturally fall from their stems. A stem attached to a cantaloupe means that it was cut too early.
Smell: cantaloupes have a very sweet fresh smell to them a ripe cantaloupe should be lightly fragrant and easily smelled. You can pick out the absolute sweetest melon by putting your nose close to the blossom end which is opposite from the stem, It should smell sweet and slightly musky. If the melon does not smell good or super overly sweet, or if it’s got a fermented odor it is too ripe.
Feel it: a quality cantaloupe will feel firm but not rock hard, if you find a softer squishy spot the cantaloupe has been sitting around too long. Gently press on the blossom end, you should feel a very tiny bit of give, this is a good ripe melon.
Pick it up: ready to eat melons feel heavy. Pick up a couple of cantaloupes and compare the weight and choose the heaviest one you find, that of course has not shown signs of being overripe.
Tap on it: tap the melon a few times with your hand or a couple of your fingers and listen to the sound that you hear. A good melon will produce a low solid sound if the sound is high pitch the fruit is pretty hollow this does not result in a good melon.
South Maryland produces some of the most amazing tasting cantaloupes especially as it was one of the first areas in the country to be settled which means one of the first areas where cantaloupe was planted.
For more information on living in southern Maryland, including South Maryland real estate, please contact us anytime.