Friday, February 8, 2008

Episode 9 - How to Choose and Cut a Cantaloupe

Hi everyone. It's time for another episode of the Produce Picker Podcast. On this episode you'll learn how to choose that perfectly ripe cantaloupe from your local market. I also show you a fast and effective way to cut open your cantaloupe while getting the highest yield of fruit possible.
Below the show you can find the entire episode transcript in case you'd like an easy way to review the steps involved. Enjoy and let me know what you think by pressing the comment button below this post.

Episode 9 - Produce Picker Podcast - How to Choose and Cut a Cantaloupe (transcript)

The first thing to pay attention to when choosing a cantaloupe is its overall shape and color. It should be nice and round with no flat sides, impressions or dents. Your cantaloupe should have a nice overall netting with creamy yellow to orange undertones.

Next you want to notice the weight of the cantaloupe, it should feel heavy for its size. While you are holding the cantaloupe make sure to check all sides for blemish including but not limited to soft spots, cracking and mold.

A very good indicator to how sweet your cantaloupe might be is to check the stem area. Notice on this cantaloupe there is a deep impression where the vine used to be connected to the melon. The cantaloupe is fresh when this appears green as opposed to brown or black. Also make sure there are no jagged edges in the stem area. You can see here this one is very smooth. A cantaloupe that has jagged edges in the stem area indicates that it was picked too soon and that cantaloupe will never fully ripen.

Finally when choosing a ripe cantaloupe you'll want to feel the area just around the stem. If you want to eat the cantaloupe the same day you buy it then this area should give when you apply pressure.

The best way to do this is to use your thumbs to apply pressure around the area just around the stem. A ripe cantaloupe will have some give without being too soft. The rest of the cantaloupe should still be fairly firm.

You can also smell the melon to help determine ripeness. The smell should be pleasant without being too strong. However in some produce departments melons are kept on a refrigerated case or in a refrigerated storage cooler and this could eliminate the smell of the cantaloupe. Because of this use smell only as a test to aid in choosing your melon but not as a definite indicator of ripeness.

Now lets look at a fast way to cut a cantaloupe while still getting the highest yield of fruit possible.

You might recognize this technique from episode 4 where we cut and cored a pineapple. We'll being using the same technique to remove the rind of this cantaloupe.

Begin by removing the top and bottom of the cantaloupe. This will provide you with a solid base with which to cut the melon decreasing the chance that the melon will slip out of your hand when cutting. Remember to always pay close attention and don't go too fast when using a knife to perform these techniques.

Now that you have a solid base to work from, take your knife and move it just to the inside of where the melon and rind meet. You want to make downward cuts, moving the knife with the shape of the melon in order to remove as much of the rind as possible while still leaving as much fruit as possible.

Perform this cutting technique around the entire melon and remove any pieces of rind left over by simply cutting them off.

Now you're left with a giant melon ball. Next we'll cut the melon in half and remove the seeds. You can use a spoon to scoop out the seeds inside the melon or simply cut and scrape them out with a knife.

Finally cut the melon into half inch to one inch sections. Rotate the pieces 90 degrees and cut again to make bite sized cubes. Another alternative to cutting the melon into slices or cubes would be to simply serve the melon halves by themselves or perhaps with ice cream or berries in the center. Really it's up to. Use your imagination and above all enjoy the sweet taste of your perfectly selected cantaloupe.

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