Thursday, April 26, 2007

Me and my cantaloupe!

I went into my local produce market today and got really excited to see Florida cantaloupes! You don’t often see cantaloupes and excited in the same sentence but after a long winter of apples, bananas and pineapples I do get a little enthusiastic when spring and summer fruits begin appearing in the stores. I never really knew how much I liked cantaloupes until I tasted one which was grown right here in the good old USA. When we owned our own produce market we had a customer we called the cantaloupe guy. He would appear each year when cantaloupe season began. Every visit, he would buy 6 to 8 cantaloupes. I used to think he was odd, now I think I may be just like him!

Locally grown cantaloupes are nothing like their off shore counterparts. Fresh, local cantaloupes are often only 1 day from the vine when they appear in the produce market. How do I pick a cantaloupe? First, I look for a local melon with a nice round shape and no bruises or soft spots. (I NEVER shake a cantaloupe. Shaking a cantaloupe does nothing but loosens the seeds and causes the melon to ROT rather than ripen.) Depending on how long before I eat it, I choose a color. The greener the skin, the longer the melon will take to ripen. Then I take it home and let it ripen on my counter or even in my refrigerator. Once the skin begins to turn yellow and dimple I know the cantaloupe is ready to eat. I can even begin to taste it as I prepare to carve it. Take my advice and treat yourself to a locally grown cantaloupe and see if you don’t start using excited and cantaloupe in the same sentence!

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