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Cantaloupe

Everything You Need to Know About Cantaloupe

Cantaloupe, also known as muskmelon, is a member of the gourd family – as are watermelons, honeydew, pumpkins and cucumbers! They have a netted, green outer rind and boast an orange flesh that is juicy and sweet.

Did you know that what we refer to as cantaloupes in Ontario are actually muskmelons? True cantaloupes are typically found in Europe and have deeper ribbing than the muskmelons we know and love here.

Local Ontario cantaloupes are in peak season from June to August, but you can find imported melons year round in grocery stores. They’re a classic summer melon, and are wonderful in both sweet and savoury dishes.

How to Select Cantaloupe

Select a melon that’s heavy for its size. It should smell flowery and slightly musky—hence its true name, muskmelon. Avoid any that have soft spots or bruises. To check for ripeness, the rind of the fruit should yield slightly with gentle pressure, but do not press so hard that you bruise it while checking.

Look for cantaloupes without a vine stem attached. When a cantaloupe is ripe, the stem will easily come off the fruit. If there is still a stem attached to your melon, it typically means it was picked before it was ripe.

Cantaloupes do not continue to ripen once they have been picked, but they do soften when left at room temperature for a few days.

How to Store Cantaloupe

A cantaloupe that is still quite firm can be stored at room temperature for about two days. Once ripened, refrigerate the whole melon for up to five days. Once cut, store in a clean, airtight container and enjoy within three days.

How to Prepare Cantaloupe

Before cutting the cantaloupe, wash the whole fruit well with water. The rind and seeds are not edible so need to be removed. Start by cutting the fruit in half through the middle and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. From this point, either cut the fruit into wedges, then cube, or turn it on the flat side and shave off the rind. Check out this video for a great tutorial!

Alternatively, use a melon baller to scoop out the flesh from the rind directly and add these melon balls to salads, appetizers, or drinks!

Cantaloupe Varieties

There are hybrid melons that have a green flesh, but typically muskmelon varieties (North American cantaloupe) are orange fleshed, ranging in sweet to a more rich flavour. They vary slightly in size and shape (round to oblong). 

How to Freeze Cantaloupe

Cantaloupes tend to lose their firm texture if you thaw them after freezing, so it’s recommended to only use frozen cantaloupe in drinks or smoothies.

To freeze cantaloupe, wash the whole melon well with water. Cut away the rind to cut into cubes, or use a melon baller. Flash freeze by spreading on a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet, then transfer to an airtight bag and try to remove as much air as you can with a vacuum sealer or a straw. Keep frozen and use within 12 months.

You can also puree cantaloupe (especially if it’s a little overripe) and freeze in ice cube trays, then transfer to an airtight bag to use in sauces, smoothies, etc.

Cantaloupe Tips

  • Frozen cantaloupe makes a healthy treat on a hot day. Their natural sweetness, tender texture (while thawing), and bright colour make it a kid-friendly snack when it’s sweltering outside.
  • Make sure you choose a ripe cantaloupe at the market before you bring it home. Cantaloupes stop ripening after they are picked, although they can still soften at room temperature if left out for a couple of days.
  • Slice thinly to add to sweet or savoury sandwiches or to create an appetizer with prosciutto.
  • Another popular idea is to leave the rind on, cut it into 1 inch thick slices and grill it over medium heat until it has grill lines and is slightly warm. Remember to brush fruit with melted butter or your favorite oil before grilling to prevent it from sticking to the grill.
  • Have you ever tried swapping pineapple with cantaloupe for a fun tasty twist on pizza?
  • Use a melon baller, then freeze and use as a flavourful ice cube for iced teas and sangrias! The fruit won’t water down your drink and it will add the wonderful flavour of cantaloupe to your beverage!
  • Infuse your water with a cube or two of cantaloupe and hydrate with some extra flavour.

What Goes Well with Cantaloupe?

Produce: arugula, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, lemon, lime, orange, cucumber, dates, figs, garlic, onion, mango, honeydew melon, watermelon, nectarines, papaya, and peaches

Herbs & Spices: ginger, mint, pepper, olive oil, salt, basil, cilantro, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, and lemongrass 

Dairy: buttermilk, goat cheese, cottage cheese, blue cheese, and yogurt

Savoury: prosciutto, bacon, nut butters (almonds, cashews, peanut), rice, and poultry

Cantaloupe Serving Ideas

Cantaloupe’s sweet and musky flavour is perfect in both sweet and savoury recipes. Try pairing cantaloupe with blue cheese, basil, and black pepper on crostini or on skewers to make a fancy hors d’oeuvre!

You can even try it in a next level grilled cheese: use thinly sliced cantaloupe in grilled cheese with brie or blue cheese.

Cool off with some cantaloupe popsicles, or simply freeze cantaloupe on popsicle sticks for some healthy frozen treats. For a hydrating and cute treat, cut them into shapes and add them to lollipop sticks to encourage your family to eat more fruit. Or try our featured cantaloupe recipe showcasing cantaloupe in a quick and easy cantaloupe breakfast bowl!

Make a cantaloupe margarita or martini to celebrate this summer fruit in style! Or add frozen cubes or melon balls to sangria, iced tea, or even water for a way to cool your drink without watering it down.

Cantaloupe Nutrition 

According to the Canadian Nutrient File, 100 g (about two wedges) of cantaloupe contain a great number of your daily-recommended intake of nutrients: 61% of Vitamin C, 50% of Vitamin A, 9% of folate, 8% of phosphorus, and 5% of magnesium.

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