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Diane Miller
Is it a cantaloupe or muskmelon?
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    Have you ever heard a cantaloupe called a muskmelon? The term muskmelon really refers to a group of melons which includes the honeydew, casaba, crenshaw and Persian as well as the cantaloupe. Many people however, still use the term muskmelon when they talk about cantaloupes.
    Whether you call it a cantaloupe or muskmelon, this melon is an excellent source of vitamins A and C. One-half cup of cubed cantaloupe contains more than half of the recommended allowance of both of these vitamins and has only about 24 calories.
    Picking out a just-right cantaloupe is not an easy job, but there are some fairly reliable guides. First, look for a course, corky netting that stands out from the rind. There should be a yellowish color showing through the netting. The stem should be gone, leaving a smooth symmetrical, dry basin that is free from mold. The cantaloupe should also have a sweet, fragrant aroma.
    Melons should be stored at room temperature until the blossom end (opposite the stem end) is slightly soft to the touch. The melon will soften and mellow at room temperature. The sugar content, however, does not increase after picking.
    Once the blossom end is slightly soft, refrigerate the melon. It should be covered to prevent its fragrant aroma from mingling with other foods.
    Remember to handle melons carefully as they are easy to bruise.  If there are any soft, decayed spots on the cantaloupe, cut them out before storing.
    Cantaloupe can be served at the beginning, middle or end of a meal — as an appetizer, salad or dessert. It can be cut in many decorative shapes such as wedges, balls or slices for use in fruit cups and salads.
    A half a cantaloupe with the seeds removed makes a natural bowl for berries, ice cream or cottage cheese. Or, shape a cantaloupe into a basket and fill it with fruit salad or melon balls.
    For more information on specific foods, contact Diane at (912) 871-0504,,
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