It's Melon Season !!

                The cantaloupe is really a muskmelon.

The true cantaloupe is a different species of melon than we are used to, it is mostly grown in France and rarely found in the United States. It gets its name from the Italian papal village of Cantalup where it was first cultivated around 1700 A.D. Due to their similarities we will still use the term "cantaloupe" when referring to the muskmelon. The cantaloupe is a melon that belongs to the same family as the cucumber, squash, pumpkin and gourd. The exact origin of melons is unclear, although they are thought to have originated in either India, Africa or ancient Persia. Historical texts from Greek and Roman times also mention cantaloupes. They were introduced to the United States during colonial times but were not grown commercially until the very late 19th century. Many of the cantaloupes available today are hybrids of muskmelons and true cantaloupes and have qualities that reflect both.

Cantaloupes are often picked, and shipped, before fully ripening. Post-harvest practices include treatment with a sodium hypochlorite wash to prevent mold growth and Salmonella growth. Cantaloupe is an extremely nutrient-packed fruit,and has very low calories. It is concentrated with high levels of beta-carotene, folic acid, potassium, vitamin C, and dietary fiber. It's also one of the very few fruits that has a high level of vitamin B complex, B1, B3, B5, and B6. The high amount of beta-carotene and vitamin C in cantaloupe also makes it an excellent fruit in helping to prevent many degenerative diseases. Some of the other health benefits include:

Anti-coagulant: A unique compound in cantaloupe helps decrease the viscosity of the blood, hence preventing the abnormal formation of blood clots in the cardiovascular system.

Arteriosclerosis: Regularly consuming vitamin C retards the development of hardening of the arteries.

Cancer prevention: The high vitamin C content acts as a good anti-oxidant that protects cells from damages by free radicals.

Cataracts: The natural vitamin A from beta-carotene in this juice lowers the risk of cataracts, and generally helps improve your vision too.

Cholesterol: Drinking juices high in anti-oxidant has been proven to fight the oxidative stress. This is the main culprit in oxidizing the LDL's in the blood, and making them a concern for heart disease.

High blood pressure: Potassium in this melon helps us excrete sodium, thus bringing down high blood pressure.

Immune system: The strong content of vitamin C stimulates white cells to fight infection, naturally building a good immune system.

Insomnia: A special compound in cantaloupe relieves the nerves, and calm anxieties. A help for insomniacs. 

Water retention: Especially in pregnant women. Cantaloupe helps your body excrete excess sodium, thus reducing water retention.

While beta-carotene and vitamin A are fat-soluble antioxidants, vitamin C functions as an antioxidant in the water-soluble areas of the body. So, between it's beta-carotene, and vitamin C content, cantaloupe has all areas covered against damage from oxygen free radicals. In addition to its antioxidant activity, vitamin C is critical for good immune function.

For the most antioxidants, choose fully ripened melon. There many things that you can look for to tell if a melon is ripe. If you tap the melon with the palm of your hand, and if you hear a hollow sound, the melon has passed the first test. Pick a melon that seems heavy for its size, and one that doesn't have any bruises or soft spots. The rind, underneath the netting, should have turned to yellow or cream from the green color that the unripe fruit has. The end opposite where the stem was should be slightly soft, and you should be able to smell the fruit's sweetness. Be careful though, an overly strong odor may be an indication of an overripe fruit. Leaving a firm cantaloupe at room temperature for several days will allow the texture of its flesh to become softer, and juicier. Only leave cantaloupe at room temperature if it is whole, unsliced, and not fully ripe. Once the cantaloupe has reached its peak ripeness, place it in the refrigerator to store. Melon that has been cut should be stored in the refrigerator and should be wrapped so that the ethylene gas that it emits does not affect the taste or texture of other fruits and vegetables. If left at room temperature for 2-4 hours, and not eaten, sliced cantaloupe is considered no longer safe for consumption and must be discarded. Mostly because of Salmonella contamination.

A recent study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry has found that minimal processing of the fruit, cutting, packaging and chilling, does not significantly affect its nutritional content even after 6, and up to 9, days. A more delicious, sweet and savory fruit you'll never eat. Cantaloupe, while just fine eaten alone as a desert also goes good with many cheeses, wines, and even deli-meats. I think it's great breakfast cereal, smoothies, or yogurt. It's a standard in fruit salads, and it also makes great warm weather milk-shakes. Good Luck...

Cantaloupe Milk Shake:


2 cups cut Cantaloupe pieces                                              
2 cups Milk
1 cup Plain Vanilla or French Vanilla icecream
1-3 tps Honey
1/2 tps Almond extract

1. Blend cantaloupe pieces till a smooth pulp is formed.
2. Add milk, honey, almond extract and blend again for 3-4 minutes.
3. Add ice-cream to it and whip for 1 minute adding 1-2 ice cubes.
4. Serve chilled.

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