Fresh Friday - In Season - Cantaloupe!

I'm not a big fan of all melons.  Lately cantaloupe has grown on me, and even become one of my favorite fruits.  I love to pick out small ones, cut it in half, scoop out the seeds and fill a half with cottage cheese.  (Side note - I'm always surprised by how many people don't like cottage cheese!  If you have never been fan, try a smooth, whipped version for all the great protein and calcium benefits, without the texture.  Friendship brand makes a great whipped one).

When I was growing up, my little sister loved cantaloupe.  We would have a bowl with all different melons and fruit like at a BBQ, and after she got done with it, all the cantaloupe would be gone, leaving all the other fruits behind.  We would joke that if anyone else wanted cantaloupe, they better beat her to the fruit bowl.  Every time I think of cantaloupe, it reminds me of her!

Here are some tips for selection, storage, and preparation, as well as nutrition information.

Did you know?  Cantaloupe is a variety of muskmelon, along with honeydew.  Cantaloupe originated in India and Africa.

Selection: Melons should be tender to gentle pressure on the blossom end of the fruit.  They should also smell sweet when ripe.  The scar on the stem end should be smooth and well-rounded.  Avoid melons with soft spots or lumps.  You want to choose a cantaloupe that seems heavy for it's size.  The skin on the cantaloupe should have thick, well-raised netting on it.

Storage: If your melon is not quite ripe yet, keep it at room temperature until it is.  Melons are ethylene-sensitive, meaning they will ripen faster if stored with ethylene producing fruits such as pears or bananas.  It will stay in the refrigerator for 5-7 days.  Cut melon can be kept tightly wrapped in plastic wrap in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Preparation: Before cutting the cantaloupe, wash the skin thoroughly.  Cut the melon in half and scoop out the seeds.  Remove skin if desired by cutting into wedges and slicing between the flesh and the skin.  Cantaloupe can be cut into wedges, chunks, balls or slices.  One pound raw equals about 2 cups chopped.

Serving Suggestions: Melon is excellent plain, or in fruit salads.  Try serving with cottage cheese or greek yogurt.  Chill cut pieces and drizzle with lime juice.  Use in sorbets, sherbets, smoothies or parfaits.  Cantaloupe wrapped in prosciutto makes a great appetizer.

Nutrition: One cup cubes only as about 50 calories.  It is a high source of vitamin A and vitamin C.  It is also a good source of potassium, folate, vitamin B6, Niacin, vitamin K, and magnesium.

What are your favorite ways to enjoy cantaloupe?   Share your ideas in the comments section below!

Hope you got your daily dose of nutrition today, and thanks for reading!  If you enjoy the blog, please share using the buttons below, or in the box to the right.  Also, we would love to have you join us!  Join this site in the "followers" box to the right.  "Like" the blog on facebook, and follow me on twitter (@jennasteprd) and pinterest using the the boxes on the right.  Thanks, and have a great day! ~jenna

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