Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Cantalumber or Cucaloupe?

I don't hide the fact that I've only attempted to garden in earnest for little more than a year and a half. I feel like I'm constantly calling or emailing my brother to pick his brain about my latest gardening conundrum. This one I thought I'd put on the blog. I planted 'Hale's Best' cantaloupes from seed in late spring. The picture on the seed pack shows what I would consider to be your run of the mill cantaloupe, nice and peach/orange colored inside, though its overall shape may be slightly elongated from what I'm used to seeing in the stores. I planted probably 8, but only two made it. Another ended up growing in a completely different part of the garden - I'm assuming it came from our compost, or perhaps a bird disturbed the seeds.

I'm glad only three made it - and I was unlucky with the peppers I planted - because these melons have taken over the garden! While the vines have taken over, this time I fortunately have had fruit set (at least 6 are growing right now)! Unlike the pumpkins I planted last year where the vines took over & flowered, but I didn't get a single even mini-pumpkin.

So I have no idea when to harvest cantaloupe. Some of them look nice and big (6" by 8") and ready. The internet says to check for ripeness, hit it and you'll hear a "thump" sound. That is about as nondescript as it comes. I went out and "thumped" the two largest ones yesterday. Sounded the same to me but I figured I'd take one and cut it open to test it out. And here's what I got -

A white cantaloupe! It is still completely edible - not too soft or too hard - but the weird thing is it really tastes like a cucumber (and I do have cucumbers growing nearby). The kids all ate some, Jason had a bite, and I put some in a shake last night. I'm going to use it tonight instead of chips for a homemade caponata spread. My question to you, dear readers, is this - what do I have here? It seems weird to me that even an unripe cantaloupe (especially of this size) has not a trace of orange to it's flesh. Cross-pollination with the cucumbers? And if this is indeed normal, can you guess how much longer I have until the flesh turns peach-colored? I don't want to waste all of the cantaloupes checking on if they are ready or not! Unfortunately I can't remember when I planted them. Not even the month! I plan on keeping better track of my planting schedule for the fall. But in the mean time, perhaps some of you with a bit more experience can cut a newbie some slack and fill me in. Thanks! - Carrie

Update (8/05/2010): Turns out we have...cantaloupes! You all were right. I read on another site that after you cut them off the vine, let them sit on your counter for about a week. The skin will go from a green/tan to a lighter green/peach color. And you will start to be able to smell a cantaloupey smell. Also, there will start to be some "give" when you push on the skin near the spot it was connected to the vine. Also, I just found a great, easy way to preserve the seeds on My 5 Acre Dream. Check it out, here. The post is about saving cucumber seeds, but elsewhere on her site she states that the same method works for cantaloupe, and she specifically does it for Hale's Best!

4 comments:

  1. unfortunately you don't have a cantalumber you've just got an unripe cantalope. sugars develope rather late in fruit.

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  2. I have read that a cantaloupe is ready when it slips easily from the vine. I'm in the same boat as you though; I've never grown cantaloupe before! I guess I'll know within too long.

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  3. What Pigs Don't KnowJuly 22, 2010 at 6:28 PM

    Annette -
    Dallas Fruit Grower just posted about this yesterday. They have some good tips. Here's the link:
    http://dallasfruitgrower.typepad.com/dallas-fruit-vegetable/2010/07/ripe-cantaloupes.html
    Good luck!

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