Friday, May 25, 2012

Picking the perfect melon - Cantaloupe

When you low carb, fruit is a once in a while treat. Not an every day thing. You don't want to waste one of your fruit indulgences on a something tasteless with the texture of an old kitchen sponge. With fruit being trucked in to grocery stores from all corners of the world it is hard to know what is really "in season". Tricks by growers and supermarkets try to fool you in to thinking something that has been bouncing around the globe in a box is fresh off the vine. To ensure you aren't fooled and can really enjoy a little bit of delicious fruit as part of your low carb or paleo plan, here are some helpful tips for picking the perfect cantaloupe.

  • COLOR: Cantaloupe rind has raised bumpy sections called netting. Under that is the base of the rind. You need to look past the netting to that under-layer. Both the netting and the under-layer should be tan or yellowish. There should be NO GREEN on the melon. Most melons, including cantaloupe, will not ripen anymore once removed from the vine. They will get softer with time but they will not develop any more flavor. 
  • SMELL: If you look at a melon there are 2 small round parts on opposite ends of the melon. One side is where the melon was attached to the vine and will look slightly indented. The other end is where the flower was when the plant was in bloom. This part is called the blossom end. You want to hold the blossom end of the melon right up to your nose and take a big sniff. If you can't smell anything, your cantaloupe isn't ripe. What you should get is a good strong melon scent. Melons tend to taste like they smell. No smell = no flavor. 
  • WEIGHT: You don't necessarily want the biggest, heaviest cantaloupe, but you do want one that is heavy for its size. Given the option of two melons of equal size, pick the one that weighs more. It usually means it is juicier. 
  • SOURCE: Where did your melon come from? Do you know the farmer? Was it shipped half-way around the planet? What are the odds of you getting a perfectly ripened cantaloupe if it had to spend days or weeks in transit? In Colorado was are fortunate to have access to Rocky Ford cantaloupe. They are grown primarily on Colorado's western slope. Their transit time to major markets is mere hours. Get to know local farmer's market vendors and growers with on-farm stands. If you are at a grocery store, look for the GROWN IN COLORADO label. Still check for color and smell to make sure you are getting a good one. If you are not in Colorado, check with to see if someone near you is growing cantaloupes for sale. 
After last year's listeria outbreak blamed on cantaloupe, be sure to take the extra precaution to wash the outside of the melon before slicing. Since fruit isn't on the daily menu, you don't want your cantaloupe indulgence to be disappointing or lethal.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Almost all cantaloupe has some green and most I run into have very little smell. No green at all?? It appears that most cantaloupe is not worth buying. Very frustrating>