Cantaloupe (also cantelope, cantaloup, muskmelon (India and the United States), mushmelon, rockmelon, sweet melon, honeydew, Persian melon, or spanspek (South Africa)) refers to a variety of Cucumis melo, a species in the family Cucurbitaceae.
Cantaloupes range in weight from 0.5 to 5 kilograms (1.1 to 11.0 lb). Originally, cantaloupe referred only to the non-netted, orange-fleshed melons of Europe. However, in more recent US usage, it has come to mean any orange-fleshed melon (C. melo). Cantaloupe is the most popular variety of melon in the United States.
The name is derived, via French, from the Italian Cantalupo which was formerly a papal county seat near Rome. Tradition has it that this is where it was first cultivated in Europe, on its introduction from Ancient Armenia.
Cantaloupes by region
The European cantaloupe is lightly ribbed (sutured), with a sweet and flavorful flesh and a gray-green skin that looks quite different from that of the North American cantaloupe.
The North American cantaloupe, common in the United States, Mexico, and in some parts of Canada, is actually a muskmelon, a different variety of Cucumis melo, and has a net-like (or reticulated) skin covering. It is a round melon with firm, orange, moderately sweet flesh and a thin, reticulated, light-brown rind. Varieties with redder and yellower flesh exist, but are not common in the US market.
Production and uses
Because they are descended from tropical plants and tend to require warm temperatures throughout a relatively long growing period, cantaloupes grown in temperate climates are frequently started indoors for 14 days or longer before being transplanted outdoors.
Cantaloupes are often picked, and shipped, before fully ripening. Postharvest practices include treatment with a sodium hypochlorite or bleach wash to prevent mold and Salmonella growth. This treatment, because it can mask the melon's musky aroma, can make it difficult for the purchaser to judge the relative quality of different cantaloupes.
Because the surface of a cantaloupe can contain harmful bacteria—in particular, Salmonella—it is recommended to wash and scrub a melon thoroughly before cutting and consumption. The fruit should be refrigerated and consumed less than three days after cutting to prevent risk of Salmonella or other bacterial pathogens.
Cantaloupe from Australia
and its cross-section
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||141 kJ (34 kcal)|
|Dietary fiber||0.9 g|
|Vitamin A equiv.||
|Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
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In general, the FDA recommends thoroughly washing and scrubbing the rinds of all cantaloupes and melons prior to cutting and slicing, and to keep sliced melons refrigerated prior to eating.
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