While I previously chatted about how to sow and grow melons (which included cantaloupes), I wanted to focus this post on how to harvest and store just cantaloupes. Since cantaloupes will not ripen off the vine, you will need to know when they are ready to harvest. There are two important harvesting signs: 1) The rind will turn from green to a creamy beige or pale yellow color. Keep in mind the hard “netting” on top of the rind stays the same color which is also a creamy beige color. 2) The cantaloupe will detach easily from the vine.
I only grew two cantaloupe plants this year which wasn’t enough! I think I will have to kick it up a notch and grow more next year because they were yummy! While we have a lot of groundhogs in our neighborhood, I found out this year that they love cantaloupe. One of my plants branched out and grew along the bottom of my fence around my garden. The ground hog waited until the cantaloupe was just ready for harvesting and took a big chunk out of it before I could harvest it! Next year I will have to keep the cantaloupe inside the fence line – lesson learned!
Keep in mind that your home grown whole cantaloupe should last longer (up to 15 days) than your store bought cantaloupe and taste better. If the air conditioner is on, the cantaloupe will ok on the kitchen counter but may not last as long. You should consider keeping cantaloupe in your veggie drawer with other melons. However, keep melons away from cucumbers and broccoli when storing because melons can cause these veggies to spoil fast – plant science! Wait to wash the rind until you are ready to use it – it will help it to last longer.
Once you cut the cantaloupe, it will probably last about 5 days in your refrigerator. Some folks make jams out of cantaloupe but I haven’t tried that yet. Another idea is to take chunks of cantaloupe or scoops of cantaloupe and individually freeze the pieces on a tray and then store them in a freezer container in the freezer for future use. Last idea for today, you can take the frozen cantaloupe and make sorbets or smoothies. Enjoy!