Cantaloupes are wonderfully tasty melons that are best in their harvest season. While that goes without saying – every fruit is best enjoyed within their particular window of harvest – some are more available than others at different times of the year.
Getting them fresh when they are out of season usually means turning to imports. While there’s nothing wrong with that, locally-grown produce is always fresher, and usually cheaper.
If you grow them yourself, you’ll know that home-grown fruit tastes hugely different from those available in the supermarket.
It also helps that you can choose your own variety to grow, rather than the one that’s the most cost-effective when grown commercially, and you know exactly what’s gone into it.
One year to another, you may get a wildly different amount of cantaloupes, making it very easy to have a huge surplus of them, and no idea what to do with them.
The good news is that you can freeze cantaloupes, making them available to you pretty much year-round, and preventing food waste.
While it might be tempting to buy a load of them from the supermarket when they are on offer, you don’t know exactly how fresh they are, or how long it was since they were removed from the plant.
This affects the freshness of the fruit, and when it comes to freezing cantaloupes, you’ll need to freeze them as soon as possible in order to preserve the flavor and texture.
If you are growing your own, reduce the amount of watering around harvest time. This will encourage the fruit’s natural sugars to get stronger, and it will also help keep the flesh firm.
Once they are ripe, you want to select the perfectly ripe, firm, and unblemished fruits to freeze. Anything less than perfect is worth eating on the day that you pick it, but it’s unsuitable for freezing.
Avoid picking melons which are far too soft, as not only will they freeze unevenly, but there may be harmful bacteria in the fruit, which will only get worse.
How Do You Freeze Cantaloupes?
As with most fruit, it’s best to use them fresh, where their texture and flavor is unhampered. If this isn’t possible, or if you have more cantaloupes than you bargained for, freezing them is the best option.
There are a few steps involved, but it won’t take that much time.
How To Prepare Your Cantaloupes Before Freezing
The first step is to make sure the cantaloupes are completely free of dirt and bacteria. Rinse them under running water and thoroughly dry them.
You’ll want to cut each one in half, and remove the seeds. Cut or peel away the rinds.
Now that you’re left with the flesh, cut them into small chunks. Place them into the containers.
The Best Way To Freeze Cantaloupe
Before you seal the containers, add some sugar to the bits of melon. This will help preserve the flavor and the color in the freezing process. Put the lids on, write the date, and freeze.
While it’s helpful to know that the melon will last in the freezer for up to a year, the longer you leave them in the freezer, the more quality they will lose over time.
Even leaving cantaloupe melons in the freezer for a short period of time will change the texture, and this isn’t something you can prevent.
Some structures will break down, and it can even be a little slimy. For this reason, you should consider only adding thawed cantaloupes to smoothies, sorbets, ice cream, or another dish where their texture doesn’t hugely matter to start with.
How Do You Thaw Frozen Cantaloupes?
Defrosting frozen cantaloupes is very easy. All you need to do is remove them from the freezer, and put them in the fridge.
Depending on how much you have to defrost, it can take a minimum of six hours to defrost, so it’s best left overnight.
While you can eat thawed cantaloupes as they are, like some cheeses and almond milk, because of the change in texture, they’re better off as an ingredient.
If you’re planning on adding these cantaloupes to smoothies, you don’t even have to defrost them. Throw them straight into the blender, which will also mean you won’t have to add ice.
While freezing melons does alter the texture, flavor, and appearance of the fruit, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t freeze them.
It simply means that you’ll have to be a little more selective in how you use them, and it means you can enjoy them out of season.