When you see cantaloupe or other summer melons on sale, you want to snatch them up and enjoy them. But, how do you cut it? Knowing how to cut a cantaloupe or other melon is an important knife skill to learn.
You see a great deal on cantaloupe and watermelon. You want to take advantage of it, but what in the world do you do with it when you get home.
Sure, you can buy those plastic packs of pre-cut fruit, but let’s be real. Rarely does that fruit taste ripe and delicious. And it’s so expensive…
Here in front of you is a fragrant melon just begging to be carted home. Don’t fear the melon.
Learn to cut it yourself.
Why do this
It’s good for you. Knowing how to cut melon, whether it’s a cantaloupe, honeydew, or watermelon, is a valuable skill to help you make the most of in-season produce and to facilitate a healthy diet. Melon is full of fiber and vitamins and can be a great way to hydrate, but it won’t do you any good if the fruit sits on the counter uneaten.
It’s easy. Seriously, you can do this in five minutes.
It’s tastier and cheaper! If your alternatives are buying boxed, cut cantaloupe or going without, those aren’t real alternatives. Learn to cut melon yourself to save money and enjoy better quality fruit.
How to choose a good cantaloupe:
Select cantaloupe or muskmelons that are heavy for their size, smell fruity, and have a thick, raised netting-like exterior.
A good melon should give slightly to pressure on the blossom end. The stem end should be smooth; if it’s jagged, that means it wasn’t ripe when harvested.
Do not buy cantaloupe that smell strongly or that have soft spots.
How to cut a melon:
1. Rinse the melon with water and vinegar.
Even though you aren’t going to eat the rind, you are going to cut through it, thereby possibly exposing the inner flesh to bacteria and other germs. I like to use white vinegar, a cheap, food-safe cleaning agent, to kill surface bacteria.
I also like to cut a melon on a cutting board inside a rimmed baking sheet. In this way, the juices are collected in the tray and don’t stray all over the counter. This makes clean-up quick and easy.
2. Cut off the two ends and stand the melon on one end.
You want the melon to be stationary while you’re cutting, no wobbling about.
3. Remove the outer rind.
With a chef’s knife, cut away the rind, curving your cuts between the rind and flesh along the rounded shape of the melon.
Proceed around the sides of the melon until all the rind is removed. Don’t worry if the melon is no longer perfectly round. You won’t notice it later.
Sometimes little green bits of rind escape your larger cuts. Go around the melon, turning it upside down if needed, to slice off these green sections.
4. Slice the melon through the center lengthwise.
Once you’ve got all the rind removed, cut through the center lengthwise, from flat end to flat end.
5. Gently scoop out the seeds and inner membranes.
No one I know eats melon seeds and its pulpy inner membranes, so remove this with a spoon. This is where the rimmed tray again comes in handy, to contain all the juicy stuff you’ll be discarding.
Clean out the inner well smoothly, removing any stray seeds. Now, you’re ready to cut the cantaloupe into slices, wedges, or cubes.
To cut the cantaloupe into slices:
Place each half, cut-side down on the cutting board and slice into thin, even slices crosswise. You can fan these slices out on a platter with other fruit if you prefer.
To cut the cantaloupe into wedges:
Cutting from flat end to flat end, you can cut the cantaloupe into quarters and then eighths or twelfths-size wedges. These are great to serve as a side dish with breakfast or as a snack.
To cut the cantaloupe into cubes:
Once you have the melon cut into wedges, you can cut cantaloupe cubes. These are great for fruit salads or easy snacking with a fork.
You can cut other melons this way, such as the honeydew or watermelon.
In the case of the watermelon, there won’t be any insides to scoop out. Just trim off the rind and cut the melon flesh into slices or cubes.
Cutting a pineapple is also pretty similar.
How to store an uncut melon: Store the cantaloupe at room temperature until ripe. Once it is ripe, store it in the refrigerator. It may absorb odors from other foods in the fridge, so wrap in plastic or a large ziptop bag if not using soon.
To freeze melon: There are loads of ways to freeze vegetables and fruits. You can use frozen cantaloupe in smoothies or slushies. To freeze it, store it in portion-size containers in the freezer, for up to six months. Do not thaw, but add to blender frozen.
Technically, a cantaloupe is a European melon not available for export to the US. The orange-fleshed melon we think of as cantaloupe in the States is actually a muskmelon. There are actually quite a few melons available.
Frozen melon is good for using in smoothies and slushies. Thawed, it will have a much softer texture so you may not enjoy it as much eating plain.
Cantaloupe and other melons ripen at room temperature. Only place them in the refrigerator once they’ve ripened, and even then for just a day or two, as they will absorb the odors of the foods around them.
Other knife skills to learn
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How to Cut a Cantaloupe
- 1 cantaloupe
- white vinegar for rinsing the melon's exterior
- Rinse the melon with water and vinegar to kill any surface bacteria. Place the melon on a cutting board set inside a rimmed baking sheet. This allows you to capture the juices instead of them spilling all over the counter top.
- Cut off the two ends and stand the melon on one end.
- With a chef's knife, cut away the rind, curving your cuts between the rind and flesh along the rounded shape of the melon.
- Slice the melon through the center lengthwise.
- Gently scoop out the seeds and inner membranes with a spoon and discard.
- Depending on how you want to serve it, cut the melon into wedges, slices, or cubes.
- Serve immediately or store the melon in an airtight container in the fridge.
This post was originally published on August 9, 2018. It has been updated for content and clarity.