The Cantaloupe Can
Cantaloupes are the often overlooked addition to an appetizer fruit tray. After learning more about them, I'm convinced they should be the star. These melons are not only a hydrating snack but can help add variety to a diet and keep you hydrated during summertime adventures.
Hydration: by weight, more than 90% water (an excellent thirst quencher)
1 cup = daily recommended amount of Vitamins A and C (including beta-carotene and several disease-fighting antioxidants
other nutrients include potassium, folate, and fiber
small amounts of omegs-3 fatty acids (good for heart health)
In Season: mid- to late-summer
A Brief History
The cantaloupe gets its name from the town Cantalupo near Rome. Cantaloupe appears in ancient literature as far back as 2500 BCE. Explorers and conquerers, even Marco Polo, wrote about eating melons in Afghanistan and claimed they were the "best in the world." Scholars say Columbus brought melon seeds along to the new world in 1493, where they were then cultivated among colonial gardeners as well.
Pick a good one
When you are shopping, look for a melon with unblemished, non-moldy ends and a rind that is free of cuts. The exterior colors can very, and so they are not often good indicators of quality. Make sure it has no soft spots, and lastly, give it a tap-it should feel heavy but sound hollow like a drum. When in doubt, use your nose to see if the melon smells faintly of flowers and honey to know it has reached its peak ripeness without being able to cut into it yet.
Cantaloupe has made the Environmental Working Group's (EWG) "Clean 15" list, making it relatively safe to consume conventional cantaloupe and a good pick for those trying to lower pesticide exposure but can't afford all organic produce.
keep whole melons out of the fridge
leftovers should be stored in a container with an airtight lid
washed rind has a tendency to decay; the safest bet is to remove the rind to reduce the risk of cross-contamination during storage
Wash the exterior just before eating
raw or cooked
best at peak of ripeness
pack in a cooler for on-the-go eating (the food should be at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or cooler)
Next time you are headed into the outdoors or on a beach adventure, cut a cantaloupe up and throw some ice cubes in with it in the cooler for a nourishing and hydrating snack.
FoodPrint. Real Food Encyclopedia | Melons. Grace Communications Foundation. 2020. Accessed at https://foodprint.org/real-food/melons/.
Gordan B. How Much Water Do You Need. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Accessed at https://www.eatright.org/food/nutrition/healthy-eating/how-much-water-do-you-need.
Wolfram T. Sand, Surf and Great Eats. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Accessed at https://www.eatright.org/health/lifestyle/seasonal/sand-surf-and-great-eats.