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Cantaloupes grow on trailing vines, and belong to the genus Cucumis along with other melons and cucumbers. Named for the Italian papal village, Cantalupo, where they were first cultivated back in the 1700s, cantaloupe probably originated from Persia or Africa, and then spread to Europe. Christopher Columbus brought cantaloupe to the US, although cantaloupe varieties in the US today are different from the European cantaloupe grown in his native country. The European variety’s proper name is Cucumis melo var. cantalupensis, and has a smoother outside with warts, and a grayish green flesh, while the American variety is Cucumis melo var. reticulatus, and has a netted outside with orange flesh, although there are several varieties in different shapes and sizes. Some botanists claim the more accurate name for the American cantaloupe is muskmelon, as, they say it isn’t really a cantaloupe at all! It can get confusing. 🙂 All we know is it’s yummy, and deserves a place in your garden!
Rich in fiber, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium, fibers, and vitamins, A, B and C, this sweet fruit can reduce risk of cancer, improve heart and eye health, and can protect your skin from harmful UV rays. Since it is so high in vitamin C, cantaloupe can help fight infections.
Tasty served alone, cantaloupes can also be mixed into a fruit salad, blended into smoothies and ice-creams, cut with club soda and served as a drink, or made into a refreshing, cool soup. Be sure and wash and scrub the rind of your fruit before cutting, to remove any possible harmful bacteria.
A summer plant, this popular fruit needs warm temperatures to grow, with lots of water, and takes about 90 days to harvest. Plant your St. Clare Heirloom cantaloupe seeds after all danger of frost has passed.
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