I was strolling through Soulard Market this past weekend, thumping the melons, smelling the peaches, and poking the avocados. The cantaloupes samples were so sweet, they were hard to pass up. Thinking ahead, I realized that if I tried to get one more bit of fresh produce into my refrigerator, the door wouldn’t shut. But all was not lost. My friend bought three melons and cut up one to nibble on in my kitchen. Putting the chunks in my Mother’s old, crystal bowl made the fruit seem even more special.
What’s So Great about Cantaloupe?
We have long known that the fragrant, sweet melons are rich in potassium and vitamin A. A researcher at Pennsylvania State University, who studies appetite, says that melons are also high-volume foods, that make us feel full. He says most people eat about three pounds of food a day, regardless of whether the food is high calorie or low calorie. After that they stop.
Foods with high volume and low calories—that is, foods with lots of water and fiber—get us to our three pound limit without giving us a lot of calories. A whole cantaloupe only has about 277 calories, because it’s 90% water. The water helps fill us up. So you might say cantaloupe is a diet aid.
Is My Cantaloupe Ripe?
Sound Test: When selecting a melon, try the tap test. If the sound is dull and deep, you’re likely holding a ripe cantaloupe. But if the sound is high and hollow, your cantaloupe is probably not ripe.
Feel Test: Also check the feel and weight, when you lift a melon. If it feels heavier than you think it should, that’s often a sign of ripeness.
Color Test: The rind of a ripe cantaloupe (the layer beneath the netting) will be cream-colored, yellow, or golden, but not green or gray.
Smell Test: Smelling the bottom of the melon (also called the blossom end, opposite from the stem end, where the vine was attached) can be helpful in determining ripeness. Unripe melons are likely to have a very faint smell, or no none at all. Ripe cantaloupes are more likely to have a distinct cantaloupe aroma. Beware, if the fragrance is overly strong; the melon may be overripe.
Fun Ways to Serve Cantaloupe
- Add sparkling water to fresh, squeezed cantaloupe juice for a refreshing drink.
- In a blender or food processor, purée melon and peeled, soft peaches to make cold, summer soup. Add lemon juice and honey to taste.
- Top melon chunks with yogurt and chopped mint.
- Slice melons in half horizontally, scoop out seeds and use each half as a basket from which to serve fruit salad.