Fresh, ripe cantaloupes are refreshing and deliciously juicy. They reach their peak ripeness between June and August, so you can enjoy them all summer long. Cantaloupes are from the muskmelon family; they’re also related to summer squash. These melons are high in potassium and vitamin C. You can enjoy 1/4 of a melon or 1 cup of the chopped fruit starting on Phase 2 of the South Beach Diet.
Cantaloupes are picked when ripe and they stop ripening once they leave the vine. This makes it essential to choose a melon that was picked at just the right time. How can you tell if a cantaloupe is ready to eat? The rind should cover the whole fruit and be slightly golden under the mesh-like surface (avoid fruit with a dull-green appearance), but it's natural to see some bleaching on the side where it was lying on the ground. The stem end should have a slight indentation, and the other end should yield to gentle pressure. A ripe melon will not be flattened or lopsided. Take a sniff; the melon should smell sweet.
Though cantaloupes don't require further ripening, you can improve the taste by storing them at room temperature for a couple of days. The sweetness won't change, but they will become softer and juicier. Cantaloupe should be refrigerated once cut, and it's best to eat the melon within a couple of days. Store cut pieces in an airtight plastic bag.
Cantaloupe is so easy to prepare — simply rinse it first (to remove any exterior bacteria) and then cut it open and remove the seeds. You can use a spoon to scoop out the flesh and eat it on the spot. For a more attractive presentation, cut the fruit into wedges or scoop it out with a melon baller. Cantaloupe can be consumed as is or added to a fresh fruit salad.