Cantaloupe is a member of the Cucurbitaceae family. This fruit is plump or oval shaped and grows on the earth and its core that contains the seeds is hollow. The flesh of cantaloupe is yielding, juicy and has a yellow hue. When ripe, this fruit possesses a strong aroma.
As mentioned earlier, cantaloupe, also known as 'muskmelon', is a pleasantly delectable and distinctively flavoured and belongs to the family of large Cucurbitaceae. Other favoured vegetables and fruits belonging to the Cucurbitaceae comprise cucumber, pumpkin, squash, gourd and others.
It is believed that cantaloupe is native to India, Africa or primeval Persia. This fruit grows and thrives most excellently on wearing sandy soil having a proper irrigation provision. It may be noted that honeybees are a must for the effectual pollination of cantaloupes. Similar to watermelons, mangoes and others, cantaloupes are basically summer fruits and their growing season extends from April to August when they are most excellent - juicy and delicious.
Cantaloupe is an extremely beneficial fruit for our body as it encloses a vast assortment of antioxidant as well as anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, together with carotenoids alpha-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. In addition, cantaloupe fruit also contains organic acids, such as caffeic acid and ferulic acid; the flavonoid called luteolin; and two cucurbitacins, namely cucurbitacin B and cucurbitacin E. Cantaloupe is also a wonderful natural source of vitamin A (present as carotenoids) as well as vitamin C. Moreover, this fruit is also loaded with dietary fiber, several vitamins, including vitamin B1, vitamin B6, vitamin B3, vitamin K and folate. It also encloses the vital minerals - potassium and magnesium.
While cantaloupes are highly palatable as well as delectable, they do not contain much calories and fats. In fact, 100 grams of the fruit only contains 34 calories. At the same time, they are loaded with several substances that are beneficial for our health. These include vitamins, minerals and poly-phenolic substances derived from plants, which are essential for best possible health.
Cantaloupe is a wonderful resource of vitamin A providing approximately 112 per cent of the recommended daily levels. In effect, cantaloupe is one fruit that provides the maximum amount of vitamin A, which is a potent antioxidant and crucial for good eyesight. Vitamin A is also essential to sustain a vigorous skin and mucus membranes. It is well known that eating natural fruits that have high vitamin A content facilitates in protecting us from the cancer of the lung as well as oral cavity.
Cantaloupe or muskmelon is also loaded with antioxidant flavonoids, for instance, lutein, beta-carotene, cryptoxanthin and zeaxanthin. All the antioxidants mentioned here possess the aptitude to assist in protecting the cells from the harmful oxygen free radicals and, therefore, provide us with protection from a variety of cancers, including those of the prostate, lung, pancreas, endometrial and breast. In effect, zeaxanthin is a vital dietary carotenoid that is carefully assimilated into the retinal macula lutea within the eye wherein it is believed to offer antioxidant as well as defensive light-filtering roles. In this manner, zeaxanthin shields the eyes from the age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), an ailment commonly occurring among the aged people.
In addition, this fruit is also an excellent natural resource of the vital mineral potassium. It is worth mentioning here that potassium is a crucial constituent of the cells as well as our body fluids and aids in regulating the heart rate, in addition to the blood pressure. Thereby, potassium acts as a defensive shield against coronary heart ailments and stroke.
Cantaloupe also encloses sufficient quantities of B-complex vitamins as well as minerals, such as, manganese. Consuming foods that have high amounts of vitamin C assists the body to build up a strong resistance against contagious agents, in addition to foraging the detrimental oxygen free radicals. Our body utilizes manganese in the form of a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme called superoxide dismutase (SOD). In fact, cantaloupes are also used commercially to haul out this enzyme, which is necessary to maintain powerful antioxidant protections within our body.
Within the human body, cantaloupe works akin to an anti-coagulant agent. Precisely speaking, cantaloupe contains adenosine, which helps to maintain the blood thin, lessens viscosity, in addition to averting formation of blood clots. Another health benefit of cantaloupe is that this fruit also assists in combating atherosclerosis. It contains vitamin C, which helps to prevent oxidative harm to the cardiovascular system as well as ensures that the arteries do not become stiff.
Cantaloupe also helps to sustain the standard levels of blood cholesterol, as vitamin C and carotenes contained by the fruit facilitates in averting any damage to the internal organs as well as the systems. These nutrients also help in preventing the oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also known as 'bad' cholesterol, and, thereby, prevent the formation of plaques inside the arteries.
Cantaloupe also facilitates in strengthening the immune system. Vitamin C contained by the fruit boosts the functioning of the immune system and, at the same time, substantially fortifies the working of the defence and immune mechanisms against ailments.
While buying selectively cantaloupes it is important to get hold of one that is full-grown. At times, it is really difficult since generally this fruit is picked while it is still not mature with a view to make sure that they ripen during the shipping and are not damaged. Shipping overly ripened fruits may cause them to become rancour. Actually, there are several ways which will help you to find a ripened melon. Primarily, you may ascertain that the fruit is completely mature by feeling its weight when you hold it in your hand. If it feels that the fruit is fuller and weightier compared to what you would anticipate it to be, it is a good sign that the cantaloupe you have chosen is ripe.
Subsequently, strike the fruit and take note of the sound it produces. In case the sound is solid and, at the same time, profound, it is a hint that you have a ripe cantaloupe in your hand. Conversely, if the sound is higher and void, the cantaloupe you are holding may not yet be ripe.
When you softly squash the top surface of a mature cantaloupe (the end where the fruit is attached to the stem of the vine) using your thumb, you ought to feel it yield to some small extent. In case that place yields considerably, to the extent of having a sensation of being truly soft or may be also spongy - the cantaloupe is possibly extremely ripened. It is also an excellent idea to have a rapid check of the different areas of the fruit as it would help to ensure that the cantaloupe is not over ripe or does not have any smash up or bruising.
In effect, even the exterior of the ripe as well as immature cantaloupe is dissimilar too. The outmost layer under the netting (rind) of a completely mature cantaloupe generally has a yellow, golden or creamy hue, but never a green or gray color. On the other hand, the rind of any young or immature cantaloupe will probably have a green or gray color. However, it is advisable that you should not rely just on the color of the rind of a cantaloupe to decide its ripeness, as there are some varieties of cantaloupe whose rind is gray or green even when they are completely ripened.
Even getting a whiff of the base or blossom end (the part converse to the stem where the vine was connected) of a cantaloupe may also be useful in deciding on the maturity of the fruit. It may be noted that in most cases, immature cantaloupes will probably have an extremely weak aroma or will not have any smell whatsoever. Ripened cantaloupes will possess a fabulous smell, distinctive to cantaloupes - however, in no case will the aroma be overwhelming. Provided the smell is exceedingly potent, it is likely that the cantaloupe will be excessively ripened.
When you have already got hold of a cantaloupe that shows all the signs of being appropriately mature, your subsequent decision will concern the proper storage of the fruit. Once you are back at home, you should immediately put the appropriately mature cantaloupe in a refrigerator, preferably in any crisper bin where the dampness is somewhat elevated. The ideal temperature for storing the complete optimally ripened cantaloupe ranges from 36�F to 41�F (2.2�C to about 5�C). The maximum period for which you may store a ripened cantaloupe in this sort of a refrigerated condition is approximately three to four days. In case you plan to buy an immature or green cantaloupe, it is all right to store it in any place (not a refrigerator) at room temperature for a few days to let the surface of the fruit's flesh turn out to be more soft and succulent.
Nevertheless, it is worth mentioning here that it is possible to leave a cantaloupe at room temperature provided the fruit is total and in one piece. In addition, it should also not be completely ripened. When the cantaloupe is optimally ripened, it is a must to store the fruit in a refrigerator. Irrespective of the fact that the cantaloupe is ready or immature, the fruit should never be rinsed till the time it is whole and not sliced. Regardless of how meticulously you wash the fruit and try to keep it dry after rinsing it, the exterior of the cantaloupe will soak up moisture while it is washed and some additional moisture will enhance the probability of mold being formed as well as reduce the shelf-life of the cantaloupe. On the other hand, if you choose to kill time and rinse the complete cantaloupe only before slicing it, you would possibly be eating the cantaloupe and, hence, will not need to be concerned regarding the shelf life of the fruit or the possibilities of forming mold on it.