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What to do with unripe cantaloupe?

I cut up a whole cantaloupe but soon realized that it was not quite ripe yet. It is sort of crunchy and does not have the best flavor. What can I do with it? Could I bake something with it or cook it somehow? Don't see many recipes of the sort. I've thought of making a salsa but I'm not a huge fan of fruit salsas.

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  1. You could grill spears. The caramelization will enhance what sugars are there. I've done it with watermelon and see no reason it wouldn't work just as well with any other melon.

    1. throw it out. you'll just be piling other food onto something that tastes like cardboard.

      not sure where you live, but in my new england neck of the woods, melons are an utter waste of money right now. fruit used to have seasons.

      1 Reply
      1. re: hotoynoodle

        In Montreal, Canada also... Melons tate nothing since a while... I think it is because they harvest them way to much earlier so than can ripen not to fast before they reach our plates.

        These days, our foods come from any parts of the globe so...

      2. Try not to waste it. Maybe make a smoothie with it with other things that have flavor. Cantaloupe is a nutritional powerhouse, and even underripe must have some value, if only fiber.

        1. Sometimes I return it to the market for a replacement fruit and sometimes I juice the fruit and add honey.

          1. Can't melon purée be used to tenderize meat? I would cut into chunks and freeze and use as part of a smoothie. You could also add sugar and other flavors and make a melon ice cream.

            22 Replies
            1. re: melpy

              melon has very little acid and very little fiber.

              i never understand the throwing good money after bad thinking to not "waste" food. if anything, it's a valuable lesson learned to not bother buying melon in march.

              1. re: hotoynoodle

                It would be more valuable a lesson if markets didn't sell melons as "ripe" when they aren't. Why sell melons off season?

                1. re: HillJ

                  Sometimes I like to buy things unripe because I'm not going to eat it right away. Melons and avocados come to mind. If I want a ripe melon, I smell them to find out if they are ripe or not. If I am going shopping and want melon for later in the week, I would buy one not as ripe and let it sit on the counter to ripen for a few days. When I buy several avocados for use throughout the week, I buy them in varying degrees of ripeness.

                  1. re: wyogal

                    from here:


                    2. Don�t harvest your melons until they are fully ripe. Melons will get softer after they are picked from the vine but they will never get sweeter.

                    ~~~ avocados, however, do ripen once picked.

                    1. re: wyogal

                      Really? The melons ripen over time for you?

                      Avocados, mangos, pears, tomatoes, bananas def.

                      But, I have not had luck ever with any melons ripening over a few days. Which is why more times than not they go back to the market for a refund or replacement fruit.

                      1. re: HillJ

                        if melons are picked green they will rot on the counter, but not get sweeter, lol.

                        am supposing if they are picked just past, they may improve, but meh. more likely a waste of money on something that has traveled 5000+miles and who knows how many weeks to get to me.

                        1. re: hotoynoodle

                          So true. A big waste of time....so what's new.

                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                            When I cut the melon open it's not green. It's orange. But it tastes like watered down cardboard. The fruit is hard. The outside peel of a melon is not a great indicator of ripeness. My Mother use to believe in the heavy theory. If the fruit felt heavy it was ripe. That never worked for me.

                            But I've also experienced unripe experiences with honeydew and watermelon too. In and out of season.

                            1. re: HillJ

                              I find that ripe melons have a scent that is unmistakeable. Granted I have a very strong sense of smell (here's a funny old discussion: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/726833 ), but my wife too has an ability to sniff a melon in a grocery store and know that we can eat it in a day or two. Yeah, so, it may look kinda funny - we're 'hounds after all.

                              With pineapples, I buy them when they have a true smell and wait until I smell them when walkin by the kitchen to cut 'em open. Always works.

                              1. re: MGZ

                                I can't smell anything from an unopened melon. Pineapples def mature on the counter in my kitchen, almost too quick. Winter melons just aren't worth it anymore. I do recall a NJ summer when musk melons were a plenty and terrific, ripe...but that's about it.

                                1. re: HillJ

                                  Smell the indentation on the bottom and you can smell ripeness.

                                  1. re: sweetpotater

                                    It's rare these days in my area to smell anything on a cantaloupe other than mustiness.

                                    Melons of days past were reliably well-chosen based upon smelling them (the stem end, not the bottom), but this isn't happening much with today's melons.

                                2. re: MGZ

                                  I, too can tell if a melon is ripe from the smell...but I know I have an acute sense of smell...I was once recruited by a parfumier to sniff stuff in the nose equivalent of a 'taste-test'!

                                  But I know this is a talent much like being naturally musically savvy which I am not: others do not necessarily smell what I smell.

                                  I'd be inclined to let it go-unless you are dead keen on chutneys-there are melon chutney recipes where the spices are really just using the melon as an excuse to cling to...

                                3. re: HillJ

                                  the cantaloupe flesh will not be green; it's a reference to how under-ripe the fruit is.

                                  and yeah, i've brought kraptastic fruit in the peak of season too. it happens. but i find fruit at this time of year too much of an expensive crapshoot, so i just eat frozen berries once or twice per week. that'll do til june when the first local stuff starts appearing.

                                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                                    The peel has a green under coating from the top skin that is pale green (I really didn't explain myself well the first time). The fruit is not actually expensive, it just isn't worth $1.99 if it tastes like wet paper.

                                    Not a hardship, I've been living on pineapple, oranges (love the Cara Cara and Cuties), bananas and mango all winter. I can nab whole berries but I like them directly from the pick your own farms better...so I buy berries only when a recipe has to be made. Luckily, spring is here and new seasonal fruit is close at hand.

                              2. re: HillJ

                                I don't really care what y'all think.... yes, I have had melons with no smell, go to sweet smelling and tasting.
                                But heck, what do I know? I'm just a hick in Wyoming that must not know what ripe fruit tastes like. Of course, the melons may have been just playing a trick on me. That must be it.
                                They aren't super green when I buy them. Maybe just on the verge of ripeness.

                                1. re: wyogal

                                  nah you're just fortunate. like I said, I'd love to enjoy a nice ripe melon during a NJ winter-but it isn't happening. So I wind up enjoying citrus, pineapples, mangoes and so it goes.

                                  1. re: HillJ

                                    Last winter I bought a honeydew melon on sale from shop rite in NJ and it was the BEST honeydew I have ever had. Sometimes you luck out.

                                    1. re: ohmyyum

                                      So true! And when you score a winning melon it is a wonderful thing! Last melon that wowed me was from an Asian market in Middletown NJ, marked down as over ripe and it was fantastic. Total drive by fluke.

                            2. re: HillJ

                              because people, like the op, want and buy them.

                              all fruit, all year-long is a very recent convention. most of it is a waste of money because it's near to flavorless. if it does have "some" taste, it's certainly not close to what a strawberry or peach -- or melon -- should taste like.

                              when i read these types of threads, it reminds of a few things:

                              >> that most people have no concept for seasonality of produce

                              >>that most people have no idea what fresh, ripe fruit and veggies actually taste like

                              >>that most people have no idea where food comes from.

                              i'm sorry, but i live in new england. it would never occur to me to buy a melon right now. melons shipped from chile are picked green, since they have to travel so many thousands of miles, and will never, ever ripen.

                              1. re: hotoynoodle

                                I live in NJ and when my farmer's market posts a big red sign that the melon is ripe-I believe them and if they are wrong I take it back and tell them, wrong. In season OR out.

                                Most markets are just hoping for the best. I don't blame consumers though. I blame the cost of doing business. Would I love a ripe melon in the dead of a NJ winter-of course...and even in the heat of July melons can be horrible.

                        2. On the David Letterman show, don't they toss them off the roofs of tall buildings?

                          1. Add sugar, lemon juice, and rum and puree this in a blender for a nice little afternoon pick-me-up.

                            1. cut in squares and wrap in procuitto, makes a great app.

                              1. Thank you to those who have offered suggestions! A smoothie sounds like a good way to go or maybe I will let it sit with some sugar and see if it softens. I really cannot justify throwing it out!

                                To some of the other posters: I was so tried of apples and oranges, had to mix it up a bit and get a melon, apologies to those who think I am disobeying rules of seasonality.
                                The melon is from costa rica, which is really not that far away. I actually got one last week and it was good! I blame myself on simply cutting this one too soon, I also do smell for ripeness but I was eager to eat it!
                                I am well aware where my food is coming from and what it is supposed to taste like! I too live in New England. I am eagerly awaiting farmer's market season!

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: WhatsEatingYou

                                  Costa Rica is pretty far when talking about food and the taste really doesn't improve on the counter, only the texture. Also apples are not in season right now either.

                                  There are a few things I will buy out of season because I like the under ripened taste. Otherwise I try to stick to seasonal food as much as possible, better on the environment and my wallet.

                                2. Macerate it a simple syrup infused with fresh lime, or make a salsa.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: letsindulge

                                    Ooops...I meant fresh mint, not lime.

                                  2. Go on line and get recipes for cooked papaya. In fact, the greener the better.

                                    They are also in their prime for use in pickling. Be patient when reheating each time so you do not overcook the ripeer part of the rind.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                      Funny I was just coming here to suggest pickling as well. Here's a recipe from the Chicago Tribune that's terrific. You could just reduce the quantity:

                                      PICKLED CANTALOUPE


                                    2. A defunct Indian restaurant at whose buffet I was a regular had a mixed salad that contained chunks of melon, often not well-ripened, along with grapes and sliced apple, in addition to the more typical lettuce, cukes, onion, etc. The dressing seemed to be rice vinegar, sugar, and water. It was always, and surprisingly, delicious.

                                        1. So I decided against the smoothie and went with the pickling and salad ideas. I added the cantaloupe to a slaw I make (in place of mango). Cabbage, thinly chopped radish, red pepper, carrot, and cantaloupe combined with a wasabi vinaigrette bottled dressing topped with some crushed peanuts. It was delicious!

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: WhatsEatingYou

                                            Thank you. That is what 's for dinner tonight.

                                          2. For next time: I sometimes eat at a restaurant that always has cantaloupe on its salad bar and it's always amazingly good cantaloupe even in midwinter so I asked them their secret. They told me that they put cantaloupes in a brown paper grocery bag and clip the top tightly shut with clothespins, then a gas forms that stays around the fruit and helps it ripen nicely. I have no idea whether this is valid science or BS, but I do know that this method makes my fruit ripen better. I now always do this with cantaloupes, honeydews, papayas, and mangos.

                                            1. Why not let it ripen. I just looked up how to ripen it faster and he best answer seemed to be to put it in a brown paper bag large enough to have air space all around it, and close it up and wait. Another one suggested adding apple or banana, fruit that make other fruit near it ripen faster.
                                              You can keep bananas (to keep from ripening as fast) in the refrigerator along with apples. But because of the gas the apples and bananas give off, put them in individually in zip plastic bags. The peel may darken but the banana stays nice/firmer longer.

                                                1. I would toss it. Then next time, put your (uncut) cantaloupe in a brown paper grocery bag and clip the top right shut for a few days, even a week. This will ripen a bought melon as much as possible.

                                                  1. For next time...dehydrate it? Slice thin, bake at 275 for 2 hrs.

                                                    1. I know you said no salsa, but you could do a refrigerator pickle of it. It might be good that way added to a salad. I don't think it would keep for more than a few days after pickling though.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: joycebre

                                                        Something tells me that this melon eventually ripened, but I'm merely speculating. I wonder if a viet-style papaya salad recipe would have worked for this particular melon?

                                                      2. Melons are being picked greener and greener for less spoilage during shipment.

                                                        I have purchased RIPE melons that are musty and tasteless - they were apparently ripened almost entirely off of the vine. I have purchased UNRIPE melons that were picked so green that no matter how much time I gave them, including in a bag (even with a banana), they spoiled before they ripened.

                                                        The problem is with how early they are being picked.