If its omnipresence in fruit trays and cups is any indication, cantaloupe is a very popular fruit. Its refreshing sweetness and juiciness is likely what wins over so many people. Perhaps you are among those who agree that cantaloupe is a scrumptious fruit. In that case, you may appreciate learning about cantaloupe season, the time of year that makes them available to everyone. After all, it’s fun to become an expert in things that you like!
If you’re wondering, when is cantaloupe season? then you’re in the right place! Read on!
History of Cantaloupes
Although cantaloupes likely originated in Persia or India, the ancient Egyptians and Romans took a liking to growing it for themselves. That was how the fruit was first popularized. From there, cantaloupe trees spread to Europe in the 15th century, and demand rapidly rose for its juicy sweetness.
Christopher Columbus soon introduced them to the Americas on his second voyage in 1494, and they were eventually carried to the northern regions of the continent. Today, they are most commonly grown in Texas, Arizona, and California.
Characteristics of Cantaloupes
When cantaloupe season comes around, you must know how to spot them and what to expect from them. That way, you’ll be fully prepared and inspired to never let the season go to waste!
There are several varieties of cantaloupes, such as the super sweet heart of gold, the rich and musky charentais, the banana-like galia, the aromatic sugar cube, the divine Athena and Aphrodite melons, and the light yet luscious Japanese variety. What they all have in common is a ribbed or netted outer flesh and bright orange inner flesh. As muskmelons, they are always round or oval-shaped as well.
All cantaloupes are lauded for their sweet juice. In fact, in a recent survey with more than 1,200 participants, over half said that they like the taste of cantaloupe. Some also contain a hint of floral or honey-like flavor. When ripe, the texture is soft, thick, and juicy, but not mushy. If you pick one that seems sour, bitter, crunchy, or spongy, it was picked either too early or too late in cantaloupe season.
With every bite of cantaloupe, you can expect to ingest high volumes of potassium, fiber, and vitamins A and C. These nutrients aid your body in combating every malady from minor illnesses to serious cancers, in addition to supporting your muscular, nervous, and circulatory systems. You may even have an easier time controlling or losing weight.
When is Cantaloupe Season?
Cantaloupes grow best in warm, sunny weather and well-drained soil, so cantaloupe season may vary depending on the region. In southern states and any regions along the Mexico border, May through September or October is ideal cantaloupe season. However, in Alaska and northeastern states, the season won’t begin until July. Floridians can expect it from April to June.
Why Should You Care?
Knowing how to answer when is cantaloupe season? may be interesting enough, but is there any value in such knowledge beyond being able to regale your friends and family with trivia? As a matter of fact, there are a few reasons why the season matters.
Many fruits and vegetables simply taste best during the seasons in which they’re meant to be harvested. This is obvious if they’re nurtured traditionally in a field or orchard, but it’s true even if they’re grown in a greenhouse all year round. When they’re in season, gardeners will more easily find the materials they need to thrive, and the greenhouse won’t need to work so hard to keep them healthy and fresh.
Cantaloupes are no exception. You’ll enjoy the juiciest and tastiest cantaloupes available if you eat them in season.
Great for Your Health
Since the fruit is at its highest quality during cantaloupe season, the aforementioned nutrients are also at their most plentiful. That means your body has more of them to absorb when you eat them during the proper time of year. Vitamins A and C are great for your immune system, while potassium and fiber support healthy cholesterol levels and blood pressure.
Supports Local Economy
To get the best cantaloupes when they’re in season, you’ll need to buy them from regionally owned and operated farms and grocery stores. In addition to letting you enjoy the freshest cantaloupes around, this will keep your money circulating in the local economy, so everyone is better off. You may also be able to find them at better prices than during the off-season, meaning you’ll have even more spare dollars to contribute to local stores and sellers.
Buying local leads to less demand for long-distance distribution, so there are fewer trucks and other vehicles using gas to make deliveries. There’s also less pressure on major agricultural companies to use environmentally harmful tools and methods to grow enough cantaloupes to keep up with demand. In other words, buying cantaloupes when they’re in season is one important way you can improve the planet.
How Can You Choose the Best Cantaloupes?
Whether you’re picking your own cantaloupes straight from a tree or buying them from the produce section at the grocery store, you’ll need to know how to tell that they’re ripe and ready to be eaten.
Look for netted outer skins in shades of beige, tan, or yellow, along with a slight depression and light aroma where the stem would have been. The skin should be firm but not hard as a rock. When you knock on it, listen for a deep, low noise, and make sure you hear or feel seeds jiggling around inside if shaken.
You can’t go wrong with cutting open a cantaloupe and eating its raw inner flesh, and it’s versatile enough to go well in any kind of fruit salad. However, there are plenty of ways to enjoy its deliciousness. We’ll give you a few examples!
No matter where you live, cantaloupe season occurs when outdoor temperatures are warm or hot. If you’re going to eat soup, you may prefer it cold. Fortunately, cantaloupes can help with that when combined with cucumbers, olive oil, lime juice, shallots, and blueberries. This combination creates a cool, revitalizing version of gazpacho, a Spanish soup.
Pasta is a wonderfully filling comfort food, and that’s partially because it’s heavy. The refreshing taste and texture of a cantaloupe-based sauce could counteract that. Just mix and boil it together with cream, butter, and shallot, salt, pepper, or any other seasoning you like.
As one of the most versatile foods in the world, there are countless ways to make pizza, for which fruit can be a delightful ingredient. One idea is to make a white sauce out of heavy cream, ricotta cheese, and basil or mint, then top it with mozzarella, prosciutto, garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, arugula, and yes, cantaloupe pieces. Bake the pizza on a stone pan to spread the heat evenly.
Many people love to eat bread as part of their meals, or just as a snack. If that describes you, consider baking a loaf of cantaloupe-based tea bread enhanced with cinnamon and ginger. When grating the cantaloupe, retain the juice so that it can give your bread a lush, moist texture.
Get Ready for Cantaloupe Season!
Now that your question of when is cantaloupe season and why it matters has been answered, you’re ready to take full advantage of cantaloupe season! I hope you now feel excited for the weather to become hot, and that you are inspired to invest in the local economy by purchasing the melons from a farmer’s market. Next, read everything else you should know about cantaloupes!