When I think of summer foods, the first thing I think about is cantaloupe! (You thought I was going to mention something else, didn’t you?) Cantaloupe is my all-time favorite fruit, and summertime is its peak season. This pale yellow-orange fruit is fragrant, sweet and juicy … no extra embellishment needed.
Cantaloupe gets its name from a town in Italy called Cantaloupo where they were grown in the papal gardens. It’s in the same family as squash, watermelon, and cucumbers. They are grown around the world, although it’s not clear where they originated – possibly Armenia, Asia or South Africa. Today, China is the world’s largest producer followed by Turkey and Iran. In the United States, the highest cantaloupe-producing state is California.
Cantaloupe may not be one of the first foods you think of as being high in nutrients, but maybe it should be. One of the best things about this fruit (besides its taste) is the number of different nutrients it contains. Cantaloupe is an excellent source of vitamin A and vitamin C and a good source of potassium. It also contains vitamins K, B1, B3, B6, folate, magnesium, copper, fiber, small amounts of omega-3 fats and many phytonutrients. With these antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients, it is no surprise that cantaloupe has been mentioned with regard to the prevention of metabolic syndrome as well as the lowering of C-reactive protein levels.
Selection & Storage
So let’s grab some of this summer goodness! Choose cantaloupes that are evenly shaped with no obvious bruising. They should be firm, and ripe cantaloupes should be fragrant at the blossom end. Wash cantaloupe under water and gently scrub the exterior with a brush just before cutting. Once cut, it can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days.