Cantaloupe (Cucumis melo), is a member of the Curcurbitaceae (Gourd) Family, making them a relative to pumpkin. The genus name, Cucumis is from the Latin family name. The genus name, melo is short for “meloeponpon”, from the Greek, relating to any round fruit. Melons originate, most likely in northwest India and New Guinea. Melons interbreed quickly and generate and propagate new versions of themselves and hence, there are hundreds of varieties. Cantaloupe, are botanically muskmelons, get their name from “Cantalupo” meaning “Wolf howl” in Italian.
Melons are alkalinizing, blood anticoagulant, antioxidant, cleansing, diuretic, hydrating, laxative, rejuvenative, and yin tonic. They cool heat in the body and can benefit lung ailments. Melons have been used therapeutically to improve arthritis, blood deficiency, constipation, fever, high blood pressure, kidney and bladder disorders, obesity, rheumatism, and skin diseases. In China cantaloupe is used to treat hepatitis.
Being round and orange color, they correspond to The Earth Element in oriental medicine, benefiting the stomach and spleen. Melons are about 94% water, yet their sugar content makes up only about 5% of its weight, compared to an apple, which has twice the sugar amount. Melons contain highly mineralized distilled water. Orange fleshed melons are high in cancer preventing beta-carotene. Most melons are rich in the fiber, pectin, vitamin C, flavonoids, vitamin B6, potassium, carbohydrates, and protein. When eaten close to the rind, they provide silicon. Cantaloupe, contain adenosine, which is being used as a blood thinning agent in modern medicine.
Ideally melons should be symmetrical in shape, have an even color, and be heavy for their size and a warm floral aroma. Melons are best with, where the stem was attached, a hollow remains. Melons that make a watery sound when shaken are overripe or have a wet or soft stem end are on their way out. They are a high pesticide residue fruit, when grown commercially.
Melons are delightfully low in calories. They make the ideal food for breaking a fast, being one of the easiest to digest foods. “Use melons alone. Or leave them alone.” is an oft-repeated phrase. They do mix well with other melons. Those with diarrhea or feeling chilled would be best for saving melons for another time.
Freeze watermelon and run through a juicer for an instant sorbet. Freeze melon juice in Popsicle holders for kids of all ages.
Melon slices can be applied topically to burns or to give a nourishing facial. Seeds are eaten in Central America to get rid of worms, in The Philippines to deter cancer. Return their abundant seeds to the earth, as compost or bird feed. Growing morning glories with melons improves melon germination. They enjoy being cultivated in the shade of corn or sunflowers.