Sunday, June 7, 2009

Cantaloupe is one of the easiest fruit to pick whether ripe or unripe. I suggest buying ripe since you can refrigerate cantaloupe for a week.

The terminology for picking cantaloupe at full maturity is "full slip", this means that the "belly button" at the top of the melon will be clean of any signs of the vine having been ripped off during harvest (cantaloupes grow on vines just like pumpkins). If the belly button has pieces of the vine still attached, even a small piece, this melon will NEVER ripen.

The best test of course is smelling the melon, look for melons where the outside rind is turning from green to yellow a sign of the ripening process and smell it. The cantaloupe should smell sweet and have a fantastic aroma as if you had just taken a knife and cut it open. No smell means it's not ripe, but if the belly button is clean, then it will of course ripen in time.

Also, the belly button should be dry, if you gently push with your thumb the flesh should not come away and no sign of mold should be present. It's okay if the melon is a little soft to touch as long as it's ripe, if black spotting is present on the rind avoid buying. The same buying methods apply to Galia and Musk melons except that the outside rind must always be firm to touch.

To speedup the ripening process place the melon in a plastic bag (2 is better) and seal the bag with a twist tie and place on your kitchen counter. This traps the natural ethylene gas cantaloupes produce inside the bag and the melon will ripen in a couple of days. Remove the bag after the cantaloupe has ripened and refrigerate until you're ready to eat it.

BTW...I recommend you punch a few small (pencil sized) holes in the plastic bags you're using to keep your veggies fresh. The holes will allow the ethylene gas to escape and reduces condensation which causes your produce to deteriorate faster. You will find that your veggies last much longer.


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