Cantaloupe or muskmelon?

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet …”
William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

That which we call a cantaloupe by any other name . . . is probably a different variety of the melon you’re thinking of.

Do you refer to the tan melon as cantaloupe? If so, that is actually incorrect. What we in the U.S. call cantaloupe is muskmelon.

Enjoy the taste of muskmelon at CHEFScatalog.comWhat’s the difference?

The rind on a muskmelon is beige/tan, smooth, and its surface looks like a net. The cantaloupe has a smooth pale green rind, according to some sources, while others say it has a rough, warty, or scaly rind. Agriculture experts at Purdue University say cantaloupes are not even grown commercially in this country. So, if you’re in America, you’re eating muskmelon. Hope you’re okay with that.

Perhaps the name shift from muskmelon to cantaloupe occurred because it sounded more refined (sort of like mush versus polenta—sorry if you thought those were two different things). Personally, I think muskmelon is more descriptive, because the smell and flavor are indeed musky.

Popular since childhood

Did you know the “cantaloupe” is the most popular melon in the U.S.? At least according to Wikipedia []. Muskmelons are also loved in Japan, where they are very expensive—try $33.28 in U.S. currency in 2010. Compare that to the 75-cent melon I bought from my neighbor. It was a perfect melon. I was in love with that one from the minute I cut into it.

I was surprised the watermelon wasn’t No. 1, because in an informal survey of friends and family there were those who hated the orange melon and those who “liked it.” I didn’t find anyone who said they loved it. My husband, being mostly in the hater category for this melon, said it tastes spoiled to him.

I, on the other hand, love muskmelon—if it is a perfectly ripened, straight from the patch, not shipped cross-country melon. Some people think you can’t tell the difference, but it is a fact that once a melon is picked it will not get any sweeter. Softer and juicier, yes, sweeter, no.

Maybe my bias is because I have such strong memories of stopping at roadside fruit stands as a child and watching my dad magically pick the best melon on the pile. He’d thump a bit and smell the end where the stem had been. A nice warm melon smell would almost guarantee it was picked at peak ripeness. The thumping was to see if it sounded a bit hollow. I’m not sure on the science of this practice, but it seemed to work for Dad.

A taste of summer

In the end, I hear you ask, does it really matter what you call it? It might.

For example, what if the great jazz pianist Herbie Hancock had named his composition Muskmelon Island? It just doesn’t have the same ring as Cantaloupe Island, does it? Of course, Hancock’s island may have grown actual cantaloupes, I suppose.

Whatever you call it, a patch-ripened melon smells and tastes like summer. Just like a golden, glorious peach hanging heavy in a tree says heaven.

If you are indifferent toward the muskmelon, I challenge you to take a drive to the country and find a perfectly ripe one. If it smells warm and sunny, take it home. You’ll know you chose well if it slices as easily as warm butter. Then slice into it and take a bite. You’ll find the warm, unrefrigerated melon to be melt-in-your-mouth perfect and “musky.”

Once you’ve had that experience, you’ll never call it cantaloupe again.


Tip: Melon seeds are a dietary source of unsaturated vegetable oil and protein, and may be lightly roasted and eaten like nuts.

Yogurt Dipping Sauce at CHEFScatalog.comMuskmelon with Yogurt Dipping Sauce


1 cup vanilla yogurt

1/2 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon cinnamon


Mix and enjoy with melon balls or melon cubes.

Recipe courtesy of Susan Miller.

Muskmelon Smoothie Recipe at CHEFScatalog.comMuskmelon Smoothie


1/2 cup frozen melon cubes

4 oz. banana yogurt

4 oz. skim milk


Put all ingredients in a blender. Chop until melon is in smaller pieces, then puree until smooth.

Recipe courtesy of Susan Miller.

Muskmelon Fruit Salad


Muskmelon cubes

Muskmelon Fruit Salad recipe at CHEFScatalog.comHandful of blueberries

1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds

1/2 tablespoon honey

2 teaspooons lime juice

1/8 teaspoon



Combine muskmelon and blueberries in a bowl.

Mix together poppy seeds, honey, lime juice, and cinnamon, and melt for 10 seconds in microwave.

Pour honey mixture over fruit just before serving. Lightly mix.

Makes 1 serving.

Recipe courtesy of Susan Miller.

Refreshing Muskmelon Lemonade Slushy recipe at CHEFScatalog.comRefreshing Melon-Lemonade Slushy


1 cup frozen muskmelon cubes

1 cup lemonade (even a powdered mix works, just be sure to mix it with water first)


Combine muskmelon cubes and lemonade in a blender. Blend until smooth.

Pour in parfait glass and watch it separate like a real parfait!

Serves one.

Recipe courtesy of Susan Miller.

Cantaloupe, Strawberry and Passion Fruit Crush

Cool, refreshing summer beverage!

Cantaloupe, Strawberry, and Passion Fruit Crush recipe at CHEFScatalog.comIngredients

1/2 cantaloupe, peeled, seeded, and cut into 2 equal portions

8 oz. strawberries, hulled

2 passion fruit, seeded and pulped

1 cup crushed ice


Process the cantaloupe and strawberries through a juicer. Stir in the passion fruit pulp.

Scoop the ice into 4 glasses. Pour the juice over the ice and stir gently to combine. Serve immediately.

Recipe Courtesy of Breville

Cantaloupe Sorbet

Cantaloupe Sorbet recipe at CHFEScatalog.comIngredients

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup water

2-1/2 pounds cantaloupe cubes

2/3 cup tangerine or orange juice

1 tablespoon corn syrup

Mint sprigs, optional

Cooking instructions

Place sugar and water in a 1-1/2 quart saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, reduce heat to medium and cook until the sugar is completely dissolved to make simple syrup. You will have 1-1/4 cups of simple syrup. Transfer to a bowl and cool completely.

Your turn: Cantaloupe or Muskmelon on the melon cubes in a food processor. Pulse to chop, then process until completely pureed. You will have about 6 cups cantaloupe puree. Stir in the tangerine or orange juice, corn syrup, and cooled simple syrup. Cover and chill for 2 hours or longer.

Following the manufacturer’s instructions, process cantaloupe mixture in your ice cream/sorbet maker until thickened. The sorbet will have a soft, slushy texture, similar to freshly scooped Italian ice.

If a firmer consistency is desired, transfer the sorbet to an airtight container and place in freezer for about 2 hours. Remove from freezer 15 minutes before serving. Garnish each serving with a mint sprig, if desired.

Recipe from Cuisinart

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