Thursday, September 15, 2016

Cantaloupe. Yes, really.

It is likely that almost all the cantaloupe you have eaten--at least in America--has been unripe.  Certainly every salad bar, every plastic box of cut up cantaloupe in the grocery store, every breakfast buffet, has served you unripe cantaloupe.  It is a tribute to the deliciousness of cantaloupe that we all eat these fairly tasteless, hard chunks and think them not only edible, but OK.

If you think you like cantaloupe melons, please do yourself this favor.  Buy one at the grocery store.  Sniff the end where the vine came out and see if it smells like a cantaloupe.  If it doesn't, put it back and try another.  Fruit tastes like what it smells like, so if that beautiful peach doesn't smell like anything, than that's what it will taste like.  You don't even need to trust me on that, just do your own experiment.  It will be convincing.

Back to the cantaloupe: if it passes the sniff test, push gently simultaneously on the two ends to feel if there's any give. Usually there's not much, which is OK, it just means it's not ripe yet.

Take it home. Put it somewhere that is not the refrigerator: a windowsill, a shelf, a bowl.  Every few days, give it a sniff, press the ends to see if there is more give, and give the cantaloupe a shake.  You are listening for the sound of the interior seeds to have loosened from the inside wall and shake around.

You are waiting for your melon to ripen, and guess what?  It will likely take over a week, possibly two. The cantaloupes you buy are UNRIPE and hard.  They need to be to be able to ship and sit in stores and not get bruised.  And most places can't afford to have them sit around for days/weeks to ripen before serving.  But you can!

Allow your cantaloupe to ripen. Restrain yourself (I know, an un-American trait).  Think of this as the Adult "marshmallow test."  Until the seeds loosen, the cantaloupe isn't fully ripe.

Wait for it.  It's worth the wait.

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