Cantaloupe is one of the healthiest fruits you can have if you are on a strict diet. Does that mean you can get a bunch of them in a go? Well, not quite. Every fruit has a shelf life and same goes for cantaloupe.
So, How Long Does Cantaloupe Last?
If you are storing a whole cantaloupe, it will last for 5 to 7 days at room temperature. Refrigerate it, and you get 2 to 3 weeks. However, if your cantaloupe is not ripe yet, you will get an added 5 to 10 days at room temperature. When cut, it will last 3 to 4 days in the fridge.
How Long Does Cantaloupe Last?
How long cantaloupe will last depends on how fresh or ripe it is and how well you store it. There are different ways to store it, depending on when you plan to eat it. If you have long-term plans, the storage method will differ drastically.
Below is an estimation of the shelf life of cantaloupe:
|Unripe||3 to 10 days until ripe||N/A|
|Ripe||5 to 7 days||2 to 3 weeks|
|Cut||N/A||3 to 4 days|
With an unripe cantaloupe, you get more shelf life than with a ripe one. So if you are planning to store it for a while, I suggest grabbing one which is yet to ripen. As for the storage method, you can do a variety of different things depending on the shelf life you expect.
In general, a cantaloupe will last for 3 to 10 days till it ripens, even at room temperature, But when ripe, 5 to 7 days is the most you can get at room temperature. I suggest leaving cut ones on the counter and instead refrigerating them. With ripe ones, you can keep them in the fridge for 2 to 3 weeks, while when cut, it is reduced to 3 to 4 days.
How to Store Cantaloupe?
How to store cantaloupe depends entirely on how long you are looking to preserve it. If you have long-term plans, toss it into the refrigerator. If not, the counter is alright, as long as it is not cut already.
Also Read: How Long Does Cottage Cheese Last?
1. Unripe Cantaloupe
If your cantaloupe is yet to ripen, the counter is the best place for it. For unripe cantaloupe, simply leave it on the counter or the fruit bowl till it ripens. Consuming unripe ones is safe, but you won’t experience them at their greatest quality. If you plan to consume it within a few days, you can leave it on the counter. Moreover, it is usually a large fruit, so this way, you won’t waste space in your fridge.
2. Ripe Cantaloupe
Once it ripens, you can either leave it on the counter if you are planning to eat it soon or refrigerate it. But if there are no immediate plans of eating it, toss it into the fridge. This works for other melons such as watermelon and honeydew as well. When refrigerating it whole, keep it in a sealed plastic bag to keep the aroma from flavoring other edible items.
3. Cut Cantaloupe
With a cut cantaloupe, you need an airtight bag or container that should be tucked away in the fridge. If you cut the cantaloupe, try to seal it as tightly in an airtight bag as possible. This is best if you have already quartered or halved it. But for diced ones, a plastic container will be the best choice.
If the cantaloupe is simply quartered or halved, there is no need to remove the seeds. This way, it will retain moisture for longer. And if you think you won’t be eating it in a long time, freezing it is a good idea.
How to Tell if a Cantaloupe is Ripe?
Getting excited to cut into a cantaloupe and being welcomed by its juicy and sweet flesh? Imagine realizing it is not yet ready for consumption once you have already cut it open. No one wants that disappointment and frustration. It’s best to look for signs that tell you whether it is ripe yet or whether you should wait.
Here are some signs:
1. The Appearance
If a cantaloupe is ripe, it will have kind of a beige webbing pattern. The netting will look a little like raised ridges. Underneath that, the cantaloupe will be yellow, tan, sandy gold, or cream-colored. When you notice that the rind is still gray or green, it is not ripe yet.
2. The Stem
When ripe, a cantaloupe detaches from the stem by itself. Hence, it will show a clean depression in the area where its stem was previously connected. When checking whether it is ripe, look for a smooth round bottom with a little indent. Avoid ones with protruding stem leftovers, as that means they might have been harvested too early.
3. The Sound
This might sound weird, but giving the fruit a little knock sometimes helps. If you hear a deep, low sound, it is ripe. If the sound is more hollow and high, chances are it is yet to ripen.
4. The Feel
A ripe cantaloupe will have the perfect amount of firmness, not too soft, not too tough. A good way to check is to press down on its stem end. If you notice a bit of give, it is ripe. If it feels too tough, give it a few more days. At the same time, too soft a feel means it is past its prime.
You can give it a good shake. If the seeds rattle, it is ripe. If not, it is probably still unripe.
5. The Smell
You can try giving the blossom end or the end opposite the stem end a little whiff. You will get a musky, sweet, and floral aroma if it is ripe. If it has a faint or no smell, it is probably yet to ripen. But if the smell is too strong, or if it seems alcoholic or like acetone in some way, chances are it is overripe and fermenting.
Also Read: Can You Freeze Watermelon?
How To Tell if Cantaloupe is Bad?
Regardless of whether you need a ripe cantaloupe or an unripe one, a rotten one is never an option. But how can you be sure that you are not consuming one that is past its prime and should be avoided? Below are a few signs to help you tell good ones from rotten ones. Avoid cantaloupes if they:
- Have discolored areas or large bruises
- Feel hollow, light, or very soft
- Smell odd
- Have been cut up and left in storage for long
If it seems too empty inside or the rind seems soft, chances are all the water is lost, and it is no good. Similarly, if the aroma is not pleasant and sweet and instead pungent and sour, toss it out. You can choose to chop off some damaged parts, but if 1/4th of the rind has turned brown, it’s time to throw it away.
Be on the lookout for mold growth on the cantaloupe. Even if the fruit has been sitting in the fridge for more than a week, it’s best to let it go.
Why Avoid Rotten Cantaloupe?
Consuming rotten cantaloupes can pose a risk of food poisoning. This includes diarrhea and other gastrointestinal problems. But the bigger issue is with listeria, a major bacteria that causes listeriosis.
With listeriosis, you can face fever, confusion, muscle ache, or even convulsion. It is especially worse for newborns, pregnant women, adults with weak immunity, and the elderly. You might be looking at 4 weeks before experiencing these symptoms, so it is a little tricky to identify the source.
I suggest not risking your health and tossing out the cantaloupe if you have even the slightest doubt.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q1. Is it OK to eat overripe cantaloupe?
Ans. Yes, it is perfectly healthy to consume overripe cantaloupes. Some find it just as delicious as ones in their prime ripeness. I have noticed the overripe ones are a tad bit on the sweeter and muskier side. As long as it is not spoiled, you can eat it. If you notice dark spots spreading or a slimy texture forming on it, toss it out.
Q2. What does unripe cantaloupe taste like?
Ans. While ripe cantaloupe is usually juicy, sweet, and tender, the same does not hold for unripe ones. The latter has less sweetness and is usually lacking in crunch and flavor. Similarly, overripe ones are more mealy and mushy.
Q3. Why do I feel sick after eating cantaloupe?
Ans. While few can deny the nutritional benefits of cantaloupe, some people are allergic to the fruit. So, if you are feeling sick after having one, chances are you might be allergic. This simply means your immune system acts up to some substance that is in the melon, flagging it as harmful to your body. If this happens, it is best to avoid the fruit.
Q4. Can you get Salmonella poisoning from cantaloupe?
Ans. Yes, you can. According to the FDA, the rough rind of cantaloupes can trap salmonella and other kinds of harmful bacteria. Unlike lemons, cantaloupe one is not acidic in nature. Naturally, it supports pathogen growth when sliced open. Salmonella outbreaks due to cantaloupe are unfortunate occurrences each year.
Q5. What are the risks of cantaloupe?
Ans. While cantaloupes are packed with health benefits, they are also risky in some ways. This is mostly due to their unique skin. Oftentimes, bacteria gets trapped in the rough surface and penetrates through the porous rind to the fruit’s interior.
The Bottom Line
Cantaloupes are great for your health as long as you buy fresh ones and store them in good condition. If you plan to eat it soon, the countertop is as good a place as any. But if you want to savor it in a few days or weeks, the fridge is the best place for it. Have more prolonged plans? Freeze it, and you are good to go!