The shelf life of cantaloupe depends on specific conditions of the fruit and its environment. So, there are no simple rules to storing it or checking when it’s gone bad. But here’s a lowdown that will help you avoid diseases (which happens if you eat a cut cantaloupe gone bad).
What Is the Shelf Life of a Cantaloupe?
If you buy a whole cantaloupe, you might be looking at an unripe one. Once you cut it, the ripening process stops. If you want to quicken the ripening process, you can roll it up in a paper bag and keep it near ripe apples or bananas but away from direct sunlight. But remember that it will be ripe in patches.
So, a cut cantaloupe in the pantry stays good for two hours. And if it is not cut, it is good for 5-7 days.
A store-bought cut cantaloupe is good for three days in the fridge but lasts five days if you cut it at home. If it is whole, it will last for 1-2 weeks in the fridge.
And if you put a cantaloupe in the freezer, cut or whole, it will be good for about a year. This is a good option if you are not going to consume it in the next couple of days. But you must separate the rind before you freeze the cubes.
How to Identify a Ripe Cantaloupe?
There are lots of different ways to check if a cantaloupe is ripe. Here are a few simple ones that anyone can apply.
- You will feel the melon heavier when you pick it up.
- The fruit will be in tan, beige golden rind, or creamy yellow color with a little splash of pale yellow in between the nets. If the rind is green in color, that means it is still unripe. And the flesh inside should be orange in color.
- When you touch the cantaloupe, the netting of a ripe melon will feel firm like a pineapple’s surface but not as hard as a watermelon.
- A ripe cantaloupe will smell sweet and pleasant. If there is no smell at all, that means it is not ripe.
- If the stem of the cantaloupe is still attached, it means the fruit was plucked too soon. But if the stem is a bit concave and smooth, that might not be the case.
It is also important to ensure that the fruit is not too mushy on the surface and that the smell is not too strong. That is a sign of over-ripeness. A ripe cantaloupe should also be tender, juicy and sweet on the inside. If it does not have any flavor or is bitter in taste, the melon was picked too soon.
When you are in a store, you want to ensure that the cantaloupe is not green. If you want to ripen it, you should ensure that it was not plucked too soon because it does not change its flavor after that point. But you can do a few things like storing it in a paper bag and keeping it at room temperature for a few days to make the flavor better.
Best Ways to Store a Cantaloupe
As you now know, you can’t change the flavor of a cantaloupe that has been plucked too soon. But if that’s not the case, you can do a few things to ripen it and eat it when the cantaloupe is at its peak.
That means you must first get a cantaloupe that is not too ripe. This is because we are talking about storage techniques that come with the assumption that you won’t eat it right away.
So, when you get an unripe cantaloupe, you must keep it on the counter for a couple of days till it is ripe. If you want to eat it a little later, even after the melon is ripe, you must store it in the fridge as a whole. You can keep it in a plastic bag if you don’t want other foods in the fridge to catch its flavor.
If your fridge doesn’t have that much space and you decide to cut it up, there are a couple of different approaches. If you are cutting it into half or quarters, you must place it in an airtight bag without removing the seeds. This will keep the moisture intact even as it is in the fridge. If you are going to dice it into cubes, you must keep it in a plastic container.
And, of course, you can always dice it into cubes, freeze it and keep it in the fridge, which is a great move if you are only going to get to it “someday”.
Signs of a Cantaloupe Gone Bad
Just like identifying a ripe cantaloupe, there are simple ways that tell you if the melon in your kitchen or fridge has gone bad. Here’s how to tell.
- If the rind seems soft or the insides of the fruit seem empty, the cantaloupe will become light and very soft. That means it does not have a lot of water and has gone bad.
- If you see a lot of discoloration or bruises on the surface or the rind has turned brown, discard the cantaloupe.
- If the smell isn’t sweet but pungent or sour, you must get rid of that melon.
- If you’ve kept it in the fridge and it is now moldy on the surface, let it go. This applies to the bag too.
- You might also want to check the surface for black spots and inspect the insides of that area.
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