Also known as the Muskmelon, the cantaloupe is an orange fleshed melon with sweet taste. It's rind/skin is characteristically net like in appearance, and is often brown or green in color. Seldom cooked, the cantaloupe is most commonly found in fruit salads or, simply served raw by itself.
While referred to as the cantaloupe in North America, a completely different melon is referred to as cantaloupe in Europe. While, not as sweet as honeydew melon and not as moist as the watermelon, cantaloupe are amongst the world's most popular melons.
Wikipedia Article About Cantaloupe on Wikipedia
Cantaloupe (or "cantaloup") is the name of two different types of fruit: one, common in the United States and in some parts of Canada, is also called a muskmelon; its scientific name is Cucumis melo cantalupensis. A different melon is referred to as cantaloupe by Europeans. This same melon is called "rockmelon" in Australia and New Zealand, due to the rock-like appearance of the skin of the fruit.
When buying cantaloupe, try to avoid obvious patches of dark discoloration which indicate bruising, as well as cracks, mold or melon's whose flesh is exposed. Cantaloupe, like most melons, should be firm when it is picked up, never malleable. Cantaloupe that is malleable indicates either over ripeness or bruising and should be avoided.
When selecting cantaloupe, push your thumb slightly where the cantaloupe's stem once was. When this is done, a ripe cantaloupe should be slightly moist and give slightly in this area. If this area does not give at all and is completely dry this is typically a sign that the melon is not yet ripe. If this area is slimy or if feels like only a slight bit of additional pressure will break the skin of the cantaloupe, this indicates over-ripeness. In addition, this area will emit a slight musk like smell when the melon is ripe.
Cantaloupe should be washed before preparation as the skin of the cantaloupe can potentially contain bacteria such as salmonella. Cantaloupe should typically be cut lengthwise, using the stem area of the melon as a gauge. This is due to the fact, the contents of the cantaloupe's seed cavity are usually undesirable, and cutting lengthwise allows for easier removal.
After the melon has been halved, removal of the pulp and seeds within the seed cavity of the melon should be the next step. Ideally an ice cream scoop will perform this task, but any spoon will do. Be certain to remove the inner lining of this cavity, while not digging too deeply into the melon's flesh, thereby wasting it.
From here, the melon can be cut as desired. The orange flesh of the melon can be eaten off of the rind/skin or can be sliced off the the rind/skin and be served cut. The external skin of the cantaloupe is inedible and can potentially contain bacteria, and thus should be not be eaten.
Cantaloupe that has not been cut, should be stored in a cool, dry place typically most fridge crispers will suffice. Once it has been cut, fridgeration is essential to prevent spoiling. Cantaloupe can be frozen after it has been cut, although as with most frozen fruits, tends to lose much of it's texture in the thawing process. Avoid moist locations as they can encourage growth of mold. Last, Cantaloupe is a ethylene producing fruit. This means it will ripen faster if not given proper space to breathe, or if it is place with other ethylene producing fruits.
Production of Cantaloupe
This North American cantaloupe, developed by the W. Atlee Burpee Company and introduced in 1881 as the "Netted Gem", is a round melon with firm, orange, moderately sweet flesh and a thin, reticulated, beige to light-brown rind. Varieties with redder and yellower flesh exist, but are not common, and are not considered to be as flavorful as the more common orange variety. Cantaloupes belong to family Cucurbitaceae, which includes nearly all melons and squashes. Cantaloupes are typically 15–25 cm in length and are somewhat oblong, though not as much as watermelons. Like all melons, cantaloupes grow best in sandy, well-aerated, well-watered soil that is free of encroaching weeds.
For commercial plantings, one hive per acre (4,000 m² per hive) is the minimum recommendation by the United States Department of Agriculture for pollination. Good pollination is important, not only for the number of fruits produced, but also for the sugar content of these fruits.