American "cantaloupe" is actually muskmelon. True cantaloupe is a European melon named for a castle in Italy (Cantalup), and has a rough, warty surface. American cantaloupe, when ripe, has a netted rind on a yellow or cream background. Cantaloupe is the most popular variety of melon in the United States, with flesh ranging in color from orange-yellow to salmon. Cantaloupe has a soft and juicy texture with a sweet, musky aroma that emanates through the melon when it is ripe.

Plural: Cantaloupes

Season: July - September

How to select: Choose melons that are heavy for their size, with a sweet, fruity fragrance, a thick well-raised netting, and that yield slightly to pressure at the blossom end. Avoid melons with protruding stems, tears in the rind at the stem end (the melon was picked too soon), soft spots, or an overly strong odor.

How to store: Store unripe melons at room temperature. Store ripe melons in the refrigerator in plastic wrap -- cantaloupe easily absorbs other food odors.

How to prepare: Cut melon in half, remove seeds, then cut into quarters, wedges, or cubes. The flesh can also be scooped out with a melon baller.

Substitutions: Cranshaw melon, honeydew melon, or Persian melon

Popular Cantaloupe Recipes