Wednesday, June 16, 2010

How to Choose a Ripe Cantaloupe

Here is another question from my side bar
"How do I pick out a good cantaloupe?"

Great question!  It is one of those fruits that is hidden underneath a hard shell.  making it a little difficult to tell ripeness.  But it is actually easier to determine then you would think.  All you need is your nose!  A cantaloupe gives off an unmistakable sweet smell when it is ripe.  Basically it should smell just as you would like it to taste!  Look for the stem end (the part of the cantaloupe that was attached to the stem) and give it a sniff.  This is the spot that will be super sweet smelling when ripe.  There is one problem when using this method though... if the fruit has been refrigerated during storage (like they are many times in a grocery store) they won't smell as strongly.  The sniff method will always work at an outdoor farmer's market, or street-side stand though.

So when at a grocery store, use the following methods in addition to sniffing to help you choose.

Cantaloupe's will also be very heavy for their size when ripe and should give a little bit at the blossom end (the end opposite to the stem).  But the entire cantaloupe should not be soft, that is a sign of it being over ripe.  Another thing you want to look at is the outer skin that is visible underneath the netting.  A ripe cantaloupe will have an orange, rosy glow to it.  If it is still a bit greenish, then it isn't quite ready.

the skin of a ripe cantaloupe

If you happen to buy your cantaloupe slightly unripe, no fear.  Just leave it out on your counter and it will ripen up in a few days.  Happy eating!

Here is a recipe for one of my favorite ways to eat cantaloupe, wrapped in Prosciutto.  Yummm!

Prosciutto Wrapped Cantaloupe
1 ripe cantaloupe (This recipe is also delicious with Honeydew Melon as well)
very thinly sliced Prosciutto 
fresh mint
balsamic vinegar

Cut your melon in half, scoop out the seeds and peel off rind.  Slice your melon into bite-sized chunks.  Wrap a piece of prosciutto around the middle of the cantaloupe and drizzle very lightly with the balsamic vinegar.  Remember, a little goes a long way,  so just a bit is all you need.  garnish with baby mint leaves and serve.  Delicious! 

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