This year we grew a lot of cantaloupe. And as usual everything was ready to come off the vine at about the same time. This left us with a lot of melons to take try and preserve. We also had a similar dilemma with watermelon.
We attempted to make watermelon fruit leather, but didn’t have any success. It took a lot of effort and time to get the moisture out, and it still didn’t get to a point where the texture was good for fruit leather. I suspect that cantaloupe are also difficult to make into fruit leather. (If you have been able to get a cantaloupe fruit leather to work for you, please let me know.)
This got me looking for ways to preserve cantaloupe. Here are a few of them:
Freezing is a possibility, but this changes the texture so its best to eat while it is still slightly frozen. Thawing out a frozen piece of cantaloupe will be a soggy mess compared to how it looked before it was put in the freezer. If you don’t mind eating frozen pieces of cantaloupe than this could be a good method for you. There are some good recipes for cantaloupe smoothies that would work great for frozen pieces of cantaloupe. Here is one of my favorite cantaloupe smoothie recipes. Add together 1 cup cantaloupe, 1-1/2 Tbsp honey, 1/2 cup yogurt, 1-1/4 cup ice, and blend.
One trick to freezing fruit is to freeze pieces on a cookie sheet first, then put into a zip lock bag (or other container). This helps cut down on pieces freezing together into one large mound.
Cantaloupe is surprisingly good tasting as a juice all by itself. Put in a juicer or blender to whip up a satisfying drink that is full of vitamins. Cantaloupe juice is high in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and is a good source of Potassium and Fiber.
Evidently juicing the entire cantaloupe (rind and seeds included) ensures that the maximum amount of vitamins are captured. Beware, however, that the rind is not as tasty as the juicy fruit inside. I prefer to toss the rind and seeds, but hey maybe that’s just me.
Although fruit leather isn’t recommended for cantaloupe, it is still possible to dehydrate. This makes a chewy snack that packs a powerful cantaloupe taste. Here is how I dehydrated our cantaloupe.
I Removed the rind and seeds and set aside (the chickens will eat it). I then thinly (1/2 to 1/4-inch thick) sliced the melons and place in one layer on the dehydrator trays. I set the dehydrator at 375-F for about 6 hours.
The result was a concentrated “chip” that is slightly chewy, but not moist.
These dehydrated cantaloupe will be used as a snack rather that trying to reconstitute them in water or use in a recipe. As can be seen in the pictures, the dehydrated cantaloupe retains its color. The taste is intensified and can be a little overwhelming at times. They taste great now, and will taste even better as a snack in the winter.
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