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My cantaloupe tastes like nail polish remover. Anyone?

  • j

I cut open an organic cantaloupe last night, and while it wasn't as soft and ripe as I'd hoped, it was sweet and flavorful... but it tasted strongly like nail polish remover (acetone?). Has this happened to anyone before? I've had some bad hard cantaloupes in my lifetime, but never one that tasted like a chemical! Any thoughts? I had a friend taste it, too, to make sure it wasn't just me. Would this happen because it was stored with chemicals? Or is it because it wasn't quite ready?

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  1. I suspect it started to ferment.

    IIRC, the alcohol produced by fermentation and acetone are contain the same number of carbons/hydrogens and oxygen, just arranged differently.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Alan408

      Ethyl Acetate. Sometimes, bacteria act on the available sugar to produce acetic acid, and perhaps there was some microbial production of ethanol. I would very much doubt it was acetone proper, since ketone production would parallel protein breakdown, and there's no much protein in cantaloupe.

      1. re: ganeden

        ganeden, thanks for that explanation.

        how does ethyl acetate relate, if at all, to esthers and aldehydes (like what make grand marnier -- and other liqueurs -- so heady and aromatic)?

    2. So not only did you continue to eat it, you had a friend eat it. I thank you and your ancestors.

      I'm guessing that they were those brave souls that ate the first raw oyster or found the non poisonous mushrooms and ate them even though previous mushroom eating killed off other members of the tribe.

      However, those tastebuds are in there to warn us about most food we probably shouldn't eat. I would have tossed it.

      Usually that taste comes from an over-ripe melon, but your last sentence seems to indicate it might not be that ripe. It has always been a spoiled melon taste for me.

      1. It wasn't overripe - I don't have much tolerance for the musky, almost-rotting taste of overripe melon. I took a bite, my friend was standing there, I said "I think this tastes like nail polish remover!," she took a bite, and agreed. I did toss the cantaloupe, I was just curious as to whether anyone else had experienced this. Can a melon ferment without getting soft/overripe?

        1 Reply
        1. re: Jeda

          By chance, did you store it in the fridge before opening it, and how old was it? Years ago a good, whole, ripe melon did something strange during refrigeration that doesn't happen with cut portions. It must have effected the taste badly because I've never done it again.

          We have a few local truck gardeners and country markets with good, inexpensive "mush melons" picked vine-ripe within hours. The best are incredibly juicy and sweet with an intense muskiness. Yes, I sometimes remark on an acetone shading when eating some of them. They are so fine.

        2. That's funny. Since I came to the States ~15 years ago I've sometimes tasted a faint acetone taste in canteloupe. It never tasted like acetone in asia. I just thought that's what canteloupe taste like here. Unripe or super-ripe, they seemed to randomly taste like acetone. Can unripe canteloupes ferment? I suppose if they start to rot before they ever ripen?

          1 Reply
          1. re: Alice Patis

            In the US, it's virtually impossible to find a ripe canteloupe. Most farmers plant varieties of canteloupes bred to tip off before they're ripe, so they're hard and hold up to shipping better.

            Maybe unripe canteloupes ferment differently than ripe ones.

          2. I had a different variety melon that went bad but looked perfect ... flesh was firm and all that. It didn't taste like nail polish, but gee, did it taste bad.