Myriad adjectives spring to mind around the image of a perfectly ripe melon: luscious, juicy, flowery, sweet, spicy, delicate, aromatic, perfumed. Sweet melons are members of the gourd family, a large botanical classification that also encompasses cucumbers and squashes.
In the US, the cantaloupe is the most popular variety of muskmelon. The American cantaloupe is characterized by a soft, netted, khaki-colored rind and bright orange flesh. In contrast, the true cantaloupe originates from the town of Cantaloupe near Rome. The European variety (like our Ambrosia Cantaloupe) has a scented yellow flesh with a hard, greenish-golden rind that’s banded into narrow segments.
Today, with burgeoning interest in heirloom fruits and vegetables, you can find a growing assortment of muskmelon varieties popping up across the country. Many markets now offer a wide selection of orange-fleshed melons similar to cantaloupes, such as Ambrosia, Persian, Crenshaw and others.
Why choose organic cantaloupe?
- Cantaloupe is #39 on the Environmental Working Group's “Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides,” a list of produce that carries the most pesticide residues when grown conventionally. Choosing organic cantaloupe makes sense — especially for children, whose growing bodies are so much more susceptible to environmental chemical exposures than adults’.
- At Earthbound Farm, we grow our organic cantaloupe without toxic synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, using sustainable farming methods that protect the environment and help keep pesticides out of our soil, air, water and food supply. Organic food is the healthiest choice for people and the planet — and we think organic cantaloupe tastes better, too!
- WhatsOnMyFood.org from the Pesticide Action Network shows you searchable results for melons like cantaloupe and a wide range of other organic and conventional foods. It’s an easy-to-use and empowering tool for learning about pesticide residues and their health effects for all of us.
How to select and store cantaloupe
- Choosing a cantaloupe can be challenging. Muskmelons don’t get any sweeter once they’ve been picked, and sometimes they’re picked too soon to develop any flavor or aroma at all. The only indicator of a melon’s ripeness is the rind, but since melons differ from one variety to another, generalizations can be difficult.
- When selecting melons, look for melons that feel heavy for their size and have a pleasant, sweet, fruity aroma. If the melon was picked ripe, the stem (or stalk) end will have a clean, smooth indentation, known as a “full slip.” Gently press the stalk end with your thumb; if it gives to slight pressure, the melon is ready to eat. Avoid melons with cracked rinds, visible damage or very soft, spongy spots.
- If your melon isn’t ready to eat when you get it home, keep it uncut at room temperature for several days. Its flesh won’t get any sweeter, but it will become softer and juicier.
- Ripe melons should be refrigerated and ideally used within a day. Once cut, seal melons tightly in plastic wrap or place in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 4 days.
Tips for using cantaloupe
- To serve your melon in slices, cut in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, and then cut the melon into long wedges.
- For a more decorative presentation, slip a flexible knife between the rind and the flesh of each wedge. Cut carefully to release the melon from the rind, but keep the flesh in place. Then, slice the fruit crosswise into 1-inch chunks. Push alternate chunks in opposite directions for a nice serrated effect.