What to do with all these cantaloupes?

macheske(6/7 NorthernVA)July 30, 2008

I'm hoping someone can tell me how I can extend the shelf life of all the cantaloupes that we're picking. We're picking 10-12 per day, eating 2-3 and giving away 3-4. When I planted I planted the 4 hills in 2 plantings 10 days apart but that didn't seem to make any difference. We have 109 of these all getting ripe at the same time and need to find a way to keep some of them longer.

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Did you know that you can freeze them? Peel and slice and put into freezer bags. My Mom always had frozen cantaloupes and are very good just before completely thawed.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 10:21AM
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anney(Georgia 8)

I agree. Freeze them in chunks. Besides making good eating almost-thawed, they make a wonderful base for Smoothies and sauces for ice cream or other foods.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 10:58AM
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What's your secret? I can't even get the durn things to sprout!

And I agree with the freezing idea. You can also give some of the excess to homeless shelters or food kitchens. Local schools might even be glad to take them.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 10:59AM
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anney(Georgia 8)

I sometimes take my extra garden produce to the local gas station and give them to the counter people since they're so efficient and nice!

    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 11:02AM
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I've frozen melon balls with great success, but I'm not sure I'd want to make melon balls from 109 melons. Chunks would be the way to go!

Here is a link that might be useful: Cantaloupe Preserves

    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 11:15AM
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macheske(6/7 NorthernVA)

Thanks for all the quick responses. I think I'll chunk and freeze most of them. How do I make them into a smoothie? I might even try that preserve recipe. Has anyone tried it?

I definitely don't have any secret to making them grow. They grew like weeds all by themselves. I'd hate to admit that my secret is letting the weeds grow so high that it's hard to find them. :)

    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 11:38AM
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anney(Georgia 8)


Just put them frozen into the blender with other fruits or juices that you like, maybe strawberries and some mint, and spin away until you have a thick, delicious, nutritious drink! Better than a milkshake anytime!

    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 12:05PM
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10-12 canatloupes a day? That is a lot, since TRUE cantaloupes start losing their flavor once they are picked. They have to be eaten once they are taken off the vine.

Now, you might be growing musk melons. If these melons look like the canatloupes that you buy in the stoes, with veiny raised fleash, then they are musk melons. Canatloupes have smooth flesh.

Either way, they both taste great. Freezing isn't a bad idea, if you have the room for it.

Bon Appetit!

    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 12:51PM
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Where do you live? I'll be right over.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 1:09PM
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grandad_2003(9A/sunset 28)

Every year I have the same problem as you decribed.. all of the cantelop coming in at once. This year I've tried to stagger the planing. I started in late May and continued planting about every 10 days or so and will finish planting shortly. I'm not sure how well the later plantings will do. It's been very hot lately and the smaller plants seem to be somewhat stressed as a result. So it's too early to tell if they will do anything. Nonetheless, the staggered planting is looking like it has broadened the harvest window.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 1:39PM
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Your local food pantry or soup kitchen may be glad to take some of them - I have done that before. Be sure to call ahead first.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 4:22PM
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sandhill_farms(10 NV)

Being as though I have a special place in my heart for seniors I take whatever extra I have to the local senior center. They are soooooo happy to get it.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 4:57PM
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Actually what I do for "ice cream" is make a soft ice cream using frozen fruit and half and half up to whipping cream. Sweeten to taste which for me is very little and I through in a pack of stevia. Its 2 to 3 ingredients. You need a good ice crushing blender for it but strawberries, mango, blue berries, peaches, pears, cherries and black berries are all excellent all natural soft ice creams. And yes I tried this with melons but they tend to be watery so these must be colder or probably mixed with (semi)frozen cream. I actually don't mind bland peaches since they make a nice platform for chocolate. I simply make a strong cup of coco with the mix and let it cool, add mint etc. Every type has different textures but mango seems to be the most creamy among them but pear is close and most excellent. If you like the sherbet effect then go with plumbs. These can also be mixed and matched.

You could also boil these down like any nutritious fluid. I do this with large stock pots of stock that can take up a lot of room so in cold months I usually consider making a concentrated jus to be more manageable and energy neutral.


    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 5:31PM
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missemerald(7 (Virginia))

I'll bet the local food kitchens would love them! For instance, around here we have a group called FISH, which is a group of churches that collects and provides food for those that need some extra help. They would love something like your cantalopes. Is there something similar near you?

    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 6:18PM
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Beeone(4 N. Wyo.)

I get the same wonderful luck most years, too. It is a wonderful time of year. To deal with the bounty, I'll have a half to a whole melon for breakfast, another at lunch, one when I get home from work, another with supper, and one just before bed. Sometimes a melon and a half as they're addictive. Get several people doing that and enjoying them when they are good and the surplus disappears quickly. The rest are given to the neighbors, and sometimes I'll take a tub of them to work for people to take. Getting rid of good melons is usually not a problem. Unfortunately the season only lasts 6 weeks or so, then it is a long dry spell until the next year when you can find edible melons again. I just enjoy the luxury and eat as much as I want!

    Bookmark   July 31, 2008 at 1:47AM
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macheske(6/7 NorthernVA)

Well...I went ahead and chunked and froze 22 gallon bags of cantaloupe last night. Thanks for all the help!

    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 8:34AM
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They make a very good preserve, salsa,chutney, jam, whatever. Just follow any recipe for peaches. I especially like the marmalade with slivered lemon and chopped crystallized ginger.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 9:45AM
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I've also made quick bread with them, just do an internet search for cataloupe bread. Yummy and the bread freezes well too.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2008 at 11:10AM
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I have one -count 'em - one cantaloupe hanging in a pantyhose sling in my garden. It survived a major squirrel attack a month ago;I packed the wound with soil and it healed! The guys at work all joke about my battle-scarred cantaloupe and ask me about it every day. May it ripen and be eaten as planned!

    Bookmark   August 14, 2008 at 8:10AM
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macheske(6/7 NorthernVA)

Sorry about your luck with canteloupes. We've picked 114 of them so far from 6 plants (I think). It's hard to tell how many plants are really there. They are almost done now. I think we have 4 more still on the vines but the vines are looking mighty ragged now.

Our watermelons have not been as prolific. We've picked 11 various watermelons and still have about 15 in the garden but they don't seem to be getting bigger. We picked a very strange looking one last night. It was seeded but didn't have many seeds in it. It wasn't as juicy as some of those that we have picked. The hard part that I have is I can't tell which plant the melons came from since I planted too close (about 8' apart in each direction).

BTW...the kids are making a lot of cantaloupe smoothies from the frozen melon. Thanks again for the suggestion.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2008 at 8:49AM
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pickled lope is wonderful!

Here is a link that might be useful: spiced cantaloupe pickles

    Bookmark   August 14, 2008 at 10:27AM
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turtalia(z7 NY)

114 from 6 plants?? wow. that's. wow.
I have 4 plants and exactly one melon to speak of. lots of tiny ones but 2 have shriveled up so far and the others don't seem to be budging. I fear I have SVB like the squash nearby but I can't find them.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2008 at 3:45PM
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macheske(6/7 NorthernVA)

I thought it was amazing as well. It's possible that there were more than 1 vine coming from each mound but they would have had to be late starts from the cell pack that came much later than the primary vine since I started them indoors. They are Ambrosia from Burpee. We'll be growing them again next year!

    Bookmark   August 14, 2008 at 4:26PM
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sinfonian(U8b A2 S5 SeaWA)

The beauty of smoothies is you can mix and match them at will. We have smoothies every moring on the weekend and sometimes for an after dinner snack. Our kids love them and so do we! My favorite time is now with frozen blueberries! Yum.

My absolute favorite (serves 4) is 2 cups non-fat milk, 1 banana, 1 yogurt, then one cup each of blueberries, strawberries, peaches and mixed raspberries and blackberries. Then I top it off with some juice to get the water/fruit mixture right. Blend on high until it's smooth and yummy!

Here is a link that might be useful: Sinfonian's garden adventure

    Bookmark   August 14, 2008 at 11:54PM
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That's it, macheske, you're gonna have to tell us your secret besides tall weeds. You are now an official hostage. I'm staking you to your keyboard. What do you put in your soil? Manure? What kind? I have access to a lot of rabbit manure. What else? Watering schedule? Fertilizer? Chemicals? Tell, tell, tell!!!

Now, everyone else has made me hunger for a smoothie this morning. I have a bushel of Colorado peaches I just got yesterday that are scenting the kitchen.

Thanks oldroser for the idea of making marmalade. Yours sounds yummy with the slivered ginger. Gonna try it with peaches.

Okay macheske, start talkin'! :)

    Bookmark   August 16, 2008 at 8:07AM
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macheske(6/7 NorthernVA)

I wish I could tell you the secret. I just picked 4 more today. Last fall I applied roundup, let the grass die and then tilled the ground for that part of the garden. It was just an old field to start. I found my records.... I added 23 cubic yards of well rotted horse manure (that I got for free) to a 40 x 80 garden. So, that's about 2.5" of manure if I was close to spreading it evenly (which I wasn't). In the spring I applied 1 bag of 10-10-10 which came out to about 1.5 lbs per 100 sq. ft., 1 bag of ironite, 12 lbs of epsom salts. I'm wondering if it has anything to do with the acidity of the soil. My soil is slightly sweet (~7.3). I tilled everything in well in the spring and then mounded probably too high. I installed a drip system. That definitely helped everything. I planted a little too early but the canteloupes didn't seem to mind much. The watermelons hated it. I have a note that says plant watermelons later. I only watered when it seemed a little too dry. I mulched with grass clippings, lots of them that I picked up before trash day in a friends neighborhood. In my neighborhood, we use tractors to cut the grass. The amazing thing is the entire garden was like that. I put up about 50 quarts of beans. Yes, I tried canning and it's easy. I put up about 40 quarts of tomato sauce, really thick. The tomatoes are still going strong. The summer squash and zucchini way outpaced our eating. I have about 100 huge ones in the garden just sitting there. We had so many cucumbers that we got our fill and left hundreds in the garden. I'm amazed at how big they can get. I pickled some jalapenos (6 pints), roasted and froze 50 or so anaheim peppers, and made pizza sauce today (2 quarts and 12 pints). We're inundated by canteloupes and watermelons now. The kids are eating about 1 canteloupe and 1/2 a watermelon a day but that's not close. The biggest problem that we have is squash bugs. They're everywhere. I sprayed early in the year but have given up lately. Oh..the pumpkins were a disaster. We have about 10 bigs ones but the vines died and the squash bugs are now composting them. So...it could be the manure, could be the PH. I'm guessing a little of both, but the friends and neighbors are happy. Especially since our closest neighbor tries very hard but can't grow a decent garden. We let them pick anything they want from ours.
I hope that helped a little...I'll be glad to answer any specifics. I'm very proud of my weed infested garden.

BTW...I found 3 new watermelons today that were full size. I really hate weeds...

    Bookmark   August 16, 2008 at 10:30PM
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grandad_2003(9A/sunset 28)

Just to report back on my comment above about experimenting with staggered planting. This worked to a point as the harvest window was definitely extended. I set plants at the end of May through the end of July. However, the plants that were set in July had essentially no production. In any case, the earlier May throug June sets had a few nice fruit. The cultivar below is Burpee Hybrid.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2008 at 10:30AM
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