It’s the good old summertime, and what could be better than sharing chilled slices of cantaloupe on the front porch? Cantaloupe, also known as sweet melon, is the quintessential snack of summer. Its lovely golden flesh doesn’t have many seeds and tastes delightfully sweet. You can slice this melon, cube it, or scoop it into melon balls to add to a healthy and attractive fruit salad. You’ve probably enjoyed fresh sweet melons since you were a kid. Maybe your family purchased them from a local farmer’s market, or your grandparents grew them in their garden. Just the scent of a freshly cut sweet melon may take you back to childhood picnics by the lake or chasing fireflies while munching on a juicy melon slice. If you and your family anticipate summer for the first juicy bite of sweet melon, you’re in good company. Food statistics quote that Americans consume nearly 7 pounds of cantaloupe per person every year, which makes almost a third of our total consumption of melons. The best time to buy sweet fruits is between May and November since it’s grown in temperate regions across the globe. Sweet melon is a delicious snack alone, mixed with other melons and fruit, or blended into smoothies. But did you know that it makes a refreshing and healthy water infusion? It’s a yummy and nutritious way to boost your water intake every day.
Here’s the Scoop on Cantaloupes
What’s there not to love about these tasty sweet melons with the intricately textured rind? Their size makes them easy to take to picnics and potlucks, and they are much easier to peel or slice than watermelons. Plus, their small white seeds are compact in the center of the melon instead of throughout the flesh, and they are simple to discard before serving. These venerable fruits are relatives of the muskmelon family and are native to the Mediterranean and the Middle East regions. They were among the treasured fruits of Ancient Egypt thousands of years ago. Sweet melons came in a variety of cultivars and were probably brought to North America by Columbus and other European explorers. Our common type is C. Melo Melo var. Cantalupensis and is named after a papal commune in Italy. These varieties are slightly different from the ones of Europe and the past. They are grown across America and Canada and are renowned for their webbed features on their skin. Even though America grows its sweet melons, they love the fruit so much that we continue to import nearly a billion pounds each year.
Cantaloupes: Nutritional Powerhouses
You’re probably familiar with the USDA daily recommendations for 2 cups of fruit for adults and 1 ½ cups for children. It would be easy to get about half a cup of this allowance from an average slice of sweet melon. It’s a delicious way for you and your children to get your vitamins and minerals each day. Sweet melons are loaded with Vitamin C and other valuable antioxidants that fight the free radicals in your body, causing cell damage. Their tasty juice is a good source of hydration, and they offer a healthy dose of fiber for proper digestion.
How About Melon-Infused Water?
During the warmest months of the summer, your body loses a lot of water, especially when exercising. You must rehydrate your body with plenty of water to replace fluids and electrolytes lost through sweat. Did you know that many Americans are severely dehydrated and don’t realize it? No wonder health experts recommend that you drink at least 48 ounces of water each day, or according to your weight and activity. Do you think you and your family are drinking enough water, or are you depending on sugar-laden sodas to do the trick?
Give Your Water a Boost
Although pure water doesn’t have a taste or odor, some people just don’t like it. Springwater is naturally infused with trace minerals that give the water a bit of flavor. Many water purification companies fortify their water with minerals to make it more palatable. If your water sourced from your city or county, it is filtered and purified with chlorine and other decontaminants. Although the process makes your water safe for drinking and bathing, it often creates faint chemical smell and taste that is unpleasant. Maybe that’s why most people opt for home water filtration systems or buy purified water from the supermarket. Ok, you know that you need to drink more water, but you’d rather have something with flavor. Yes, diet sodas can be part of your fluid intake; countless studies highlight concerns that these bubbly beverages can dehydrate you and hinder your weight loss efforts. When you infuse your water with sweet melon, you can satisfy your hydration needs and taste buds. Also, your melon-infused water will provide a healthy dose of Vitamin C, Vitamin B, and other nutrients that support your health. It’s easy to make, and your whole family can enjoy it. If you are tired of drinking plain water, this infused delight may be your answer.
• Choosing the Right Melon
Maybe you chuckled as a kid when you watched seniors sniffing the ends of cantaloupes, shaking them, and gently tapping them in the produce section of the grocery store. These people knew from experience how to find the perfect sweet melon from the crate. You can use the same process when you are picking a melon. Look for melons with a slightly pale underside, which means that it took time to ripen in the sun. When you sniff it, perfectly ripe fruit should have a delightful fruity smell, not an unpleasant overripe scent. The skin of ripe sweet melons should give a little to gentle pressure, and the fruit should feel solid and have the traditional webby features.
• How to Slice a Sweet Melon
Because of their smaller size, sweet melons are easier to peel and slice than their larger sister melons. Be sure to wash the outside of your melon well with cool water and a teaspoon of white vinegar to eliminate possible pesticides and microbes. Your best bet is to buy organically, if possible. On a stable cutting board, use a sharp chef’s knife to slice the melon into equal eighths. Discard the seeds or save them for planting in your garden. Use the knife to peel away the skin carefully, then wash pieces, and serve. You can also use a melon baller to create a quick and fancy dessert.
• Infusing With Water
People in Mexico and other tropical regions have enjoyed melon-infused water for generations. In Spanish, it is called agua fresca, or freshwater. It’s easy to make and so refreshing during a sultry summer afternoon. Have your kids help you mix up a quick batch.
What you need to make cantaloupe water:
- One medium sweet melon, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes or balled
- 1-gallon cold purified water
- One tablespoon of sea salt
- 1 cup of purified crushed ice
•Clean and wash melon and cut into cubes or melon balls. Add the melon to a 1-gallon pitcher. •Pour cold water over the fruit and add enough ice to fill up the pitcher. •Place the pitcher in the refrigerator to chill at least 15 minutes or overnight for optimally infused flavor. •Enjoy a few glasses each day to supplement your regular water intake. This is a basic recipe that you can use, but feel free to add what you’d like. For another splash of flavor and nutrition, try adding berries or other complementary fruits. You can also add fresh mint, lemon, or other tasty and healthy ingredients to your infused water.
Benefits of Cantaloupe Water
When you infuse your water with sweet melon, you get fluid and the benefits of the raw melon. Did you know that your favorite melon was so good for you? Here are some of the possible benefits you can receive from each serving:
1 – Promotes eye health and vision:
Sweet melons are valuable sources of Vitamin A and retinal, which are necessary for good vision and healthy eyes.
2 – Benefits your skin:
The citric acid and other vitamins in sweet melons fight free radicals that are blamed for damaged skin cells. Drinking melon-infused water boosts your citric acid intake and can keep your skin glowing and healthy.
3 – Reduce stress:
Did you know that the citric acid found in sweet melons may lower your stress levels? It reacts with chemicals in your brain and may reduce the production of excess stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline.
4 – Promotes healthy bones and the central nervous system:
Sweet melons are a powerhouse of potassium, a vital electrolyte responsible for keeping your bones strong and healthy. Potassium also keeps the pathway of your nerves and brain clear.
5 – Lower Your Blood Pressure:
If you have hypertension, these melon-infused water may lower your numbers with a boost of potassium. It may be a yummy way to supplement your prescribed diet, exercise, and medication regimen.
If you want to stay hydrated and are bored with plain water, spruce it up and enjoy a cold glass of cantaloupe water. It’s an easy way to get your family to drink more water and less sugary sodas and power drinks. Raise your glass to toast it’s delicious benefits this summer.