Longer days, warmer nights, the scent of barbecues wafting through the evening breeze. These are some of the signs that summer is underway. Although it's still a couple of days before the official beginning of summer on June 21, it's already hot, hot, hot here in Las Cruces.
Summer also heralds the beginning of melon season. At Mountain View Market Co+op we love the fresh, sweet flavor of cantaloupe and right now we've got it available as a Fresh Feature and it's only $.79/lb. while supplies last.
Cantaloupes originated in the region between India and Africa, were later introduced to Europe and became a commercial crop in the United States in the late-1800s. It's known by many names around the world, such as rockmelon, sweet melon, mushmelon and spanspek (in South Africa). The variety most often found in grocery stores in the U.S. is actually a muskmelon and is a variety derived from the European Cantaloupe. European cantaloupes are characterized by a smoother, slightly ribbed grey-green skin whereas muskmelons have a net-like rind.
In addition to being a tasty summer treat, cantaloupes are also high in some key vitamins and nutrients. A medium sized melon (one with about a five inch diameter) contains 1,474 mg of potassium (42% of the USDA recommended daily allowance), 5 grams of dietary fiber (20% DV), 373% Daily Value of Vitamin A and 337% Daily Value of Vitamin C.
Cantaloupe should always have the rind washed before cutting to remove bacteria. It is usually served cubed with the seeds removed. If you're looking for some new ways to enjoy this summer treat, why not try it a new way like:
- Use a melon baller to scoop out the flesh and freeze the melon balls for a sweet and pretty alternative to ice cubes. Frozen melon balls can be eaten when your beverage is finished and won't water-down drinks like melting ice can.
- Try adding diced cantaloupe to your next batch of pico de gallo to add a sweet twist to this fresh summer side.
- Add cantaloupe to salads for a pop of color and added nutrients.
- Put fresh or frozen cantaloupe in the mix with your morning smoothie.
- Add cubed melon to skewered kabobs for a new twist on an old favorite.
What's your favorite way to enjoy this sweet, summer fruit?