How to Cook with Cantaloupe

How to cook with Cantaloupe

June. 22, 2014 till present July. 1, 2014,  here at Splendid Recipes and More we have posted about everyone’s favorite summer time melons, watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew (link here if you missed the articles).

Mark a vendor at our local Farmer’s Market gave us a lot of tips to choose the best melon to enjoy this summer.

We found a few recipes that we thought you would enjoy. The first one is Mark’s idea, which is roasting with cantaloupe. What you may say, roasting a cantaloupe? Yes and here is what Mark had to say.

“Cantaloupe, Mark says, probably isn’t a fruit you think of cooking with. Aside from having it in a fruit salad, the idea of cooking with it just doesn’t seem like it would work, and especially given its water content.” Mark goes on to say, “You really can cook cantaloupe and make some amazing dishes with them.”

So I asked Mark, “What cooking idea or technic you have in mind?”

He said, “Roasting cantaloupe is a wonderful way to cook with it. As a matter of fact, roasted cantaloupe takes on a whole new taste. So if generally speaking you don’t like cantaloupe, then try it roasted , you will be pleasantly surprised.”

Roasted cantaloupe can be a great topping for your breakfast cereal in the morning, or maybe on your ice cream for dessert.  Or mix it with some Greek yogurt.

Here’s the recipe…

Roasted Cantaloupe

roasted cantaloupe

Roasted Cantaloupe
Image credit: http://www.vegwithanedge.com

If you’re looking for the how to, it’s really quite simple.

First, slice the cantaloupe in half, and scoop or cut out the fruit.

Preheat you oven to 400 degrees F.

Remove the seeds. Then cut the cantaloupe into chunks.

Place into a medium bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons of sugar or honey and a splash of vanilla for a slightly different taste.

Place coated melon onto a baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 20 minutes or until the cantaloupe begins to caramelize. Remove from oven and cool completely.

Mix the cantaloupe up in a large mixing bowl with some favorite summer berries, like raspberries, strawberries, or blueberries. Mix in a tablespoon or two of balsamic vinegar infused with raspberry or pomegranate. Spoon mixed fruit into the two shelled halves of the cantaloupe. See finished product by viewing the header picture of this article. Serve and enjoy.

Grilled Cardamom Cantaloupe with Swiss Cheese Crumbles

Grilled Cardamom Cantaloupe with Swiss Cheese Crumbles
Image credit: http://www.misskitchenwitch.com

You can also grill cantaloupe, and Mark says, “Cantaloupe actually grills very nicely.”

Slice your cantaloupe and put a little brown sugar on top. Then pop it on the heated grill for a few minutes on each side just to get some nice grill marks on it. Serve it with your favorite ice cream.

You can also leave cantaloupe the way it is and pair it with some other great foods to help you find a way to enjoy cantaloupe that much more.

 

Finally, a sweet and salty appetizer, why not try this Melon and Prosciutto combination.

Melon and Prosciutto

1 large cantaloupe

Prosciutto Wrapped Melon Balls

Prosciutto Wrapped Melon Balls
Image credit: http://www.bellalimento.com

3 ounces very thinly sliced prosciutto or fully cooked ham

Cut cantaloupe in half and remove seeds. Using a melon baller, scoop out pulp or cut pulp into bite-size cubes.

Cut prosciutto or ham into 1-inch wide strips. Wrap a strip of prosciutto around each melon ball. Fasten prosciutto with a toothpick.

If you’re going to have cantaloupe and cook with it, just get creative. It’s a sweet fruit, so experiment with your palate and see what you can create. Make a salsa or a cantaloupe puree, or just add it to the side of a tasty shrimp and basil Aioli. Just have fun with it and enjoy cooking with cantaloupe.

What are your favorite cantaloupe recipes?

 

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Choosing the Right Honeydew Melon

Choosing the Right Honeydew Melon

Honeydew is another summer favorite fruit. If you missed the prior articles about the watermelon and cantaloupe you can read about them here: Articles on Melons.

It’s so disappointing when you get a melon that just doesn’t taste good. It may not be sweet enough or not ripe enough. It just makes the whole melon eating experience a let-down. That’s why we’re going to ask Mark a vendor at our local Farmer’s Market to show us how to pick out just the right honeydew melon so you can get the most flavorful, enjoyable melon possible.

Squeeze the ends of the honeydew melon. You want them to have a little bit of a give to it, as that means it’s ripe.

Look at the color of the outside of the honeydew melon, the more yellow it is, the better. Look for a golden hue to it.

The skin will have almost a sticky texture when it’s at its ripest.

Brown spots on the rind of a honeydew melon are kind of like brown spots on a banana. That’s where the fruit is the sweetest. So don’t shy away from a few brown spots.

Pay attention to the shape of your honeydew melon. You want it to be spherical in shape for the tastiest melon.

Weight matters, too. Because melons consist of mostly water, you want one that is heavier than it appears. This will be the juiciest melon.

Use all of your senses when checking your honeydew melon. Give it a smell. If it has a nice, pleasant aroma, then it’s going to taste good too.

Mark grabbed a honeydew melon up to his ear and started shaking it side to side. He said, “If you can hear the seeds rolling around in there, then it’s ripe.” I tried it, but couldn’t hear the seeds. He said that one takes practice.

Tapping on the melon with your knuckle and hearing a hollow sound, means the melon is ripe.

I asked Mark about honeydews that are orange inside?

orange flesh honeydew

An organic orange flesh honeydew…Picture credit: http://www.burpee.com

Mark said, “If you find honeydew with orange-flesh, that’s okay. This is a new kind of honeydew which is easier to tell if it’s ripe, the more orange it is, the better. However, be warned – it might not have as sweet of a taste as your typical honeydew melon.”

Make also said that if f a honeydew melon is picked too soon, that is, before it turns yellow, it will never ripen. He also said it’s best to avoid buying melons past August, because you probably aren’t going to get a very tasty melon unless you live in California where they are grown.

Mark pointed out that the most important thing when choosing just the right honeydew melon is to pay attention to the color of the rind. A honeydew melon starts out green. If it remains green or even has a greenish hue to it, then it’s not at all ready yet. Watch out for green spots too. This means it’s not ripe yet either. And it’s not going to get that way with time like bananas will. Honeydews don’t keep ripening after their picked.

Honeydew melon is really a melon you have to buy to eat right away. It doesn’t get better if you buy it early and let it sit in the sun. You also want to store it at room temperature.  However, after it has been cut into you will need to store it in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. This will help keep it fresh for up to two weeks.

Now go out and pick your perfect honeydew melon and then enjoy all of its sweet, watery goodness. You’ll never pick a disappointing melon again, thanks to the tips Mark shared with us on how to choose the best honeydew melon.

 

Header image credit: Epicurus

 

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Interesting Facts about Watermelons

Interesting Facts about Watermelons

The past week we have been considering this summers fruits, how to enjoy them, and how to pick a ripe one for eating. If you missed those articles here is each one you can link too:  Ten Ways to Beat the Heat with Summer Melons , How to Choose a ripe Cantaloupe , and How to choose and Store Watermelon.

Our last article was about choosing a ripe watermelon and how to store it properly. What do you know about the watermelon, other than it is good eating and makes a great summertime treat?  Read on for some interesting watermelon facts that may surprise you.

* Watermelon contains a lot of health benefits. It’s good for the heart and it is even believed to help prevent many well-known cancers.

* Some consider it to be a vegetable and not a fruit. While its sweet taste makes most say fruit, it is actually grown like a vegetable and harvested as such as well. It comes from a plant similar to what a pumpkin and other gourds come from. When the rind is used for pickling purposes or stir fried or stewed, it is being used like a vegetable. However, most commonly it is known as a fruit. The same is true of a tomato, seen as a vegetable, but is actually a fruit.

* Every part of the watermelon can be eaten.

* Watermelon is believed to come from Africa and was first cultivated as early as 2000 B.C. It is believed that it was used to refresh travelers as they traveled through Africa, and was also used as canteens. It came to the United States with African slaves, and the term watermelon appeared first in the English dictionary in 1615.

First seedless watermelon produced in 1939

First seedless watermelon variety grown in 1939

* The first seedless watermelon was introduced in 1939, by treating with acid on the blooming flowers before they were pollinated.

* It is said that, by weight, watermelon is the most consumed melon in the United States.

Japans cube watermelon

Square or cubed Watermelons Grown in Japan

* There are more than 1200 different varieties of watermelon. They even come in different shapes – including square melons grown in Japan (view latest news of Japans cubed-watermelon here…).

* If you have sun, bees, and water, you can grow watermelon. You will also need a lot of room. Watermelon is best planted in rows 8-12 feet apart. It takes about 3 months for a watermelon to be ready to harvest.

* Watermelons must be harvested by hand and not by machine because they are very fragile.

* August 3 is considered national watermelon day. So remember to eat plenty of watermelon on this day!

* Watermelon contains more than 90% water.

* The world’s heaviest watermelon was grown in Arkadelphia, Arkansas by Lloyd Bright. It weighed 268.8 pounds (121.93 kg).

* American comedian Gallagher became famous for smashing watermelon on stage with his Sledge-O-Matic. It was wildly popular prop comedy, especially in the 1980’s.

* Mark Twain once described watermelon like this: “It is the chief of this world’s luxuries, king by the grace of God over all the fruits of the earth. When one has tasted it, he knows what the angels eat. It was not a Southern watermelon that Eve took; we know it because she repented.”

Everything you could possibly ever have wanted to know about watermelons. Where it came from, to how it is grown, its health benefits, and even how well liked it is by famous people. Do you have any facts you would like to share with us? Just leave it in the comments below, thanks.

Return again for information on Choosing the Right Honeydew Melon.

 

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How to Choose and Store Watermelon

How to Choose and Store Watermelon
With the onset of summer we start to think about summer fruits, like watermelon. This is always a favorite treat in the summer because of how refreshing and light it is. But, nothing is worse though than biting into a watermelon that has gone bad or just wasn’t ripe enough to begin with. So you want to make sure you choose the right watermelon from the get go, and then also make sure you store it correctly(check out our article on How to Chose a Ripe Cantaloupe).

Here are some tips from Mark a vender at our local Farmers Market to make sure you get the most out of your watermelon this summer.

Choosing the Right Watermelon

Mark says, “You need to decide if you want a seeded watermelon or a seedless watermelon. There’s no difference in appearance between the two watermelons. The only difference is convenience, though I personally feel the seedless watermelon has a sweeter taste than the seeded melon.”

Mark showed us the easiest method for picking out the perfect watermelon is to give it a little tap on the side. If it sounds solid it’s not ripe, or if it sounds thick it isn’t quite ripe chosing a ripe watermeloneither. But if it sounds hollow then it’s ripe and just right.

After tapping on the melon and hearing that hollow sound don’t pick up that melon just yet, Mark says take notice of the melons appearance. A bright, green-colored skin that’s free of cuts and is firm and symmetrical is what you want to look for. You don’t want one that is narrow on one end or misshapen, because this means it grew in bits and spurts. It should also feel heavier than it looks. Since watermelon is 90% water (which is what makes it so refreshing), you want plenty of water in your watermelon. More water means it’s nice and ripe, giving it a much sweeter taste.

Now that you have picked the perfect watermelon for your summer event, you want to make sure you store it correctly so it lasts longer.

How to Store Watermelon

Mark advises storing your watermelon is in a dark, cool place, like a basement if you have one. But if not, then the next best place is in the refrigerator. This keeps the melon from rotting. Not only does it keep it fresh, but the coolness will also make it a much more refreshing summer treat.

Once you have cut into your watermelon, you want to make sure you tightly wrap the opened end with plastic wrap to store in the refrigerator. If it’s cubed or balled, just place it in a tightly sealed glass or ceramic container. If you sliced it, just place some plastic wrap over the exposed edge. This way it won’t attract the other flavors and scents from the refrigerator and change its taste.

Mark says your melon should last about a week in the refrigerator.

There you have it – the facts on how to choose and store a watermelon this summer. Look for our next article on – Choosing the Right Honeydew Melon -.

 

What Others are saying About Watermelon:

How to Choose a Ripe Cantaloupe

How to Choose a Ripe Cantaloupe

 

We posted an article awhile back about enjoying melons on hot summer days (Ten Ways to Beat the Heat with Summer Melons). I spoke with a few local  Farmer’s Market venders and asked them about how to chose melons that are ripe and ready to eat, and here is the jest of what they had to say, starting with the cantaloupe:

Cantaloupe, Mark said, is one of the most popular melons in America. While the cantaloupe is deeply loved by many, as Mark went on to say, “It’s equally disappointing when you get a cantaloupe that either isn’t ripe yet or has passed its prime”. To make sure you don’t suffer from this disappointment, here are some tips that Mark shared with us on how to chose the best cantaloupe.

* When picking out the perfect cantaloupe, you want to use your senses. Let’s start with sight. Look at the color of your cantaloupe. You want one that has more yellow tones to it. Pay close attention to the colors between the webbed portion of the cantaloupe. If it’s still green it’s not ripe; it was picked too soon.

* Look for a mark on the side of the melon that is flat and is slightly different in color. This is the side which was on the ground and did not see sun.

* Listen – Now you need to give the melon a little listen. Holding it in your hand, knock a few times on the side of the cantaloupe. If it’s deep and thick, then you have a good dense and full cantaloupe. If it has a high-pitched sound, then it isn’t ripe.

* Feel – You need to know how the cantaloupe feels in your hands too. You want it to be firm, but not too firm. Squeeze it gently on its ends. If there’s some give to it, it’s good. However, if it’s mushy and wet then it’s past its prime. If it’s too hard with no give then it’s not a ripe cantaloupe.

* Smell – This might be the most important of your senses when choosing the perfect cantaloupe. You want one that is very aromatic and sweet smelling. The sweeter, the better. If you don’t smell any aroma, then the cantaloupe is not ripe. If it’s an unpleasant odor, then it’s no good. If you do nothing else but smell, then you should still be able to find the most flavorsome cantaloupe possible.

* Taste it! Of course this isn’t something you can do in the grocery store or at the market, but clearly the best way to tell if a cantaloupe is at its freshest is by tasting it. Hopefully you have used your other senses in the ways described above so you don’t get a mouthful of tasteless cantaloupe. That would be a big disappointment.

once a cantaloupe is picked from the vine it will not get any riperThe thing when picking out the perfect cantaloupe is to remember the nursery rhyme Goldilocks and the Three Bears. You don’t want it too firm or too soft. You don’t want it too green or too yellow. You don’t want it too strong smelling or not smelling enough. It needs to be just right. Then you will know that you have found the absolute perfect cantaloupe.

Also remember, once a cantaloupe is picked from the vine it will not get any riper than it is at that moment it was picked. So don’t buy a slightly unripe cantaloupe thinking that if you give it a few days it will get better.

Please return as we have tips on How to Choose and Store Watermelon.

 

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Ten Ways to Beat the Heat with Summer Melons

Ten Ways to Beat the Heat with Summer Melons

Watermelon, honeydew melon, and cantaloupe are the three most common and loved melons, and they are all melons which are mostly consumed throughout the summer months.

From April until August its melon season throughout earth’s northern hemisphere. Consuming these melons while in season should be about more than just the fact that they taste good and are supper refreshing. They contain vitamins and minerals, including large amounts of water, which is hydrating to the body.

Here are ten wonderful ways to enjoy melons in the summer.

Watermelon Basil and Goat cheese

Image Credit: deansheremet.tumblr.com

1. A nice hunk of juicy watermelon will help beat the heat. If you feel watermelon is a little too bland for your taste, then just cube up some melon and toss it with a little feta or goat cheese and some balsamic vinegar and olive oil sprinkled with some fresh basil. You’ll have a simple, refreshing, grown-up treat that’s sure to help you beat the heat this summer.

2. Make a delicious summer soup with pureed honeydew melon and cantaloupe. Chill it and add some fresh mint leaf for an extra refreshing treat.

3. Make a refreshing drink out of the melons. Whether it’s a watermelon martini or just a sparkling water drink garnished with your favorite melon, it’s sure to help you beat the heat this summer.

4. Make a watermelon smoothie or a melon parfait for a treat in the heat.

5. A fruit salad with all of your favorite melons in it will cool you down and be light and refreshing enough to help keep you feeling cool and breezy.

Melon Ball Ice Cubes

Image Credit: laylita.com

6. Using a melon scooper, make melon balls with your favorite melon and freeze them and add to fresh water. It will make your water have a nice sweet taste as the melon balls thaw, also it will cool you off while providing a great refreshment (link here for a great recipe on preparing Melon Ball Ice Cubes).

7. If you don’t want any melon in your ice cubes, just make a frosty granita by pureeing your melon. Mix it with some ginger ale, lemon juice, and lime juice; then freeze it. Give it a stir every half hour or so and you have a wonderful cooling slushy-like dessert.

8. Melons are even great as a salsa for a nice light dinner dish. It’s refreshing and tasty with a nice grilled piece of chicken.

9. Try all the different types of melons. If you can get your hands on something other than cantaloupe, watermelon, or honeydew, then you should try them for a different treat to beat the summer heat. Melons like Casaba melon, for a sweet and spicy flavor the Crenshaw melon, the Persian melon, and the sweet honey-like taste of the yellow flesh watermelon.

10. Enjoy fresh melons with your friends – preferably by the pool or some other body of water. Nothing says fun and summer like watermelon at the beach with the people you love the most. So get out there, have a good time, and beat the heat with your melon in hand and your toes in the water.

Melons are the perfect summer beat-the-heat food because of the large amounts of water they contain. Water helps thin the blood which means your heart doesn’t have to work as hard to pump the blood through your veins. So even if you’re not a big fan of drinking water, just eating these watery melons will do so much to help you stay ultra-cool and hydrated. Just grab your favorite melon today and beat the heat this summer!

Here’s our recommendation for a great salad using watermelon: Watermelon Goat Cheese Salad.Watermelon Goat Cheese Salad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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