Cooking with Cantaloupe
Cantaloupe is one of the popular melons consumed in the United States. Although referred to as a cantaloupe, the cantaloupe in the United States is in fact a muskmelon. The true cantaloupe exists in Europe and has a rough and warty surface unlike the netted characteristics found in the United States.
In the United States, cantaloupes are primarily grown in California, Arizona, and Texas with the peak season being June through August. However, the fruit is available year around in most grocery stores.
Cantaloupes are planted in February and can be grown in 60 degrees, yet the optimal temperature is 85 to 90 degrees. Pollination of the plant depends on bees, thus conditions such as rain, wind, cold, and cloudiness which are unfavorable for bees can decrease the crop yield. The melons are harvested by hand when the fruit will cleanly separate from the vine sometime in June through October. Harvest occurs 8 to 10 times every 10 to 14 days and the melons are separated by size to be shipped in boxes. Immediately after harvest the fruits needs to be cooled to maximize post harvest life. This is done by pressure cooling, which allows for storage up to 2 weeks at 34 degrees to 40 degrees.