Contributed by: Jim Bolding
Delicious, nutritious and low calorie... What more can you ask of a snack? Well the cantaloupe has more. It fills you up, is very refreshing and will satisfy your sweet tooth as well.
Cantaloupe is also a great source of key nutrients. It's the
highest of all melons in beta-carotene. Beta-carotene acts
as an antioxidant in the body and may help reduce the risk
of some cancers. It's also a good source of potassium and
vitamins A and C.
Cantaloupes (although you might not notice the resemblance)
are related to squashes, and rank somewhere between summer
and winter squashes in terms of nutritiousness. They resemble
summer squashes in their high water content and low calorie
The melon that Americans call cantaloupe (the most popular
melon in the United States) is actually a muskmelon. True
cantaloupe comes from Europe and has a rough, warty surface
quite unlike the netted rind of our familiar fruit.
Cantaloupe is available year round but the peak season is
right now through August. California, Arizona, and Texas
provide the majority of the U.S. commercial cantaloupe crop,
but if you can find a local farmer they'll be even better.
Since cantaloupes have no starch reserves to convert to
sugar, they will not ripen further once they have left the
vine. They're picked when they are ripe but still firm, to
protect them during shipping.
You can improve the eating quality of a firm, uncut
cantaloupe by leaving it at room temperature for two to
four days; the fruit will not become sweeter, but it will
turn softer and juicier.
If your market sells cut cantaloupes, the fruit should be
perfect for immediate consumption, as it will not improve
once it is cut. With cut melons, you can check the color
and texture of the flesh, and usually smell the delectable
fragrance of a ripe melon even through the tight plastic
Preparation of the melon is Simple. Just cut it open and
remove the seeds and strings. It can be served in many
attractive ways: cut into halves, quarters, wedges, or
cubes; or the flesh can be scooped out with a melon baller.
For melon rings, cut a cantaloupe into thick crosswise
slices, scrape out the seeds, and remove the rind, if
desired. This makes a nice container for other things.
Once cut, cantaloupe should be refrigerated and used within
about two days. (Mine never last that long). Enclose cut
pieces in plastic bags to protect other produce in the
refrigerator from the ethylene gas that the melons give
off. Ripe cantaloupe is also very fragrant, and the aroma
of a cut melon can penetrate other foods.
Snacking should be a planned event but the satisfying,
nutrient-dense cantaloupe is so low calorie (about 50
calories per quarter melon) if you're going to slip it
should be with cantaloupe. Keep some in your fridge.
Jim Bolding is the publisher of Diet and Fitness News and the
Webmaster at http://www.dietandfitnessonline.com