Cantaloupe (also cantaloupe or cantalope) refers to two different varieties of Muskmelon, Cucumis melo. Both belong to the family Cucurbitaceae, which includes nearly all melons and squashes. They are typically 15–25 cm in length and are somewhat oblong, though not as oblong as watermelons. Like all melons, cantaloupes grow best in sandy, well-aerated, well-watered soil that is free of encroaching weeds.
A ripe one will have a musky sweet smell at the stem end of the melon. An odorless one is likely to be tasteless, too. Cantaloupe is normally eaten as a fresh fruit, as a salad, or as a dessert with ice-cream or custard. Melon pieces wrapped in prosciutto are a familiar modern antipasto. The orange, sugary and fragrant flesh makes this fruit popular both as a dessert or main course. These have smooth gray-green rinds and very fragrant orange flesh. It keeps well when stored in a cool, dry place and ripens after several days in a warm room. Varieties are Hales Best Jumbo, Edisto 40, Honey Dew and Rocky Ford.
Because the surface of a cantaloupe can contain harmful bacteria, it is always a good idea to wash a melon thoroughly before cutting and consumption. A mouldy cantaloupe in a Peoria market in 1941 was found to contain the best and highest quality penicillin after a world-wide search.