"Rockmelon" redirects here. For other uses, see Cantaloupe (disambiguation).
Cucumis melo var. reticulatus Naudin
Cantaloupe (also cantaloup, muskmelon, cantalope, rockmelon or spanspek) refers to a variety of Cucumis melo, a species in the family Cucurbitaceae which includes nearly all melons and squashes. Cantaloupes range in size from 0.5 kg to 5.0 kg. Originally, cantaloupe referred only to the non-netted orange-fleshed melons of Europe; however, in more recent usage it has come to mean any orange-fleshed melon (C. melo).
Cantaloupes by region
The European cantaloupe is lightly ribbed, with a gray-green skin that looks quite different from that of the North American cantaloupe.
The North American cantaloupe, common in the United States, Mexico, and in some parts of Canada, has a net-like (or reticulated) skin covering. It is a round melon with firm, orange, moderately sweet flesh and a thin reticulated light-brown rind. Varieties with redder and yellower flesh exist but are not common in the U.S market.
The cantaloupe originated in India and Africa.
Cantaloupes were originally cultivated by the Egyptians and later the Greeks and Romans
Cantaloupes were first introduced to North America by Christopher Columbus on his second voyage to the New World in 1494. The W. Atlee Burpee Company developed and introduced the "Netted Gem" in 1881 from varieties then growing in North America.
Production and uses
Because they are descended from tropical plants, and tend to require warm temperatures throughout a relatively long growing period, cantaloupes grown in temperate climates are frequently started indoors, and grown indoors for 14 days or longer, before being transplanted outdoors.
Cantaloupe 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. This treatment, because it can mask the melon's musky aroma, can make it difficult for the purchaser to judge the relative quality of different cantaloupes.
Choosing a ripe melon depends on the preferences of the individual. For a heavy musk flavor and softer flesh, look for an Eastern Shipper with a strong yellow color, no stem (peduncle) attached, and a strong musk aroma. For a sweeter, crisper melon look for a Western Shipper without stem (peduncle) and a mild musk odor. For a very sweet melon with little or no musk, choose a fruit that has the stem still on the fruit and no aroma.
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