The last man standing in the land of fruit bowls is almost always the cantaloupe. Long after the pineapple, strawberries and grapes have been cherry-picked to freedom, the broken-hearted balls of soggy cantaloupe mope in a warm fruity broth, awaiting their date with disposal destiny.
Love it or leave it, the musky funk of an over-ripe cantaloupe is a flavor you will never forget. I can't say that I've ever been a huge fan so when I saw that Ben and Jerry's co-founder Jerry Greenfield named cantaloupe ice cream as one of his all time favorites, I thought it was a great opportunity to revisit this under-appreciated fruit salad filler and give it another shot. I have a theory that just about anything mixed with cream and sugar will taste fantastic. Just ask my friend roasted garlic or any one of the random Iron Chef judges.
(click the image for more amazing daily oil paintings from Justin Clayton)
Fun facts from Wikipedia: Cantaloupes were first introduced to North America by Christopher Columbus on his second voyage to the New World in 1494. The Burpee Seed Company developed and introduced the now common "Netted Gem" in 1881 from varieties then growing in North America. A moldy cantaloupe in a Peoria, Illinois market in 1941 was found to contain the best and highest quality penicillin after a worldwide search.
The Tuscan cantaloupe is a relative newcomer to the American supermarket and is sweeter than the more popular reticulated cantaloupe. The lighter the green stripes, the sweeter the flesh. If only every produce had a built in ripeness meter! The melon above is ripe with a capital R!
Tuscan Cantaloupe Ice Cream
(completely stolen from Ben and Jerry's Homemade Ice Cream Book)
1 average-sized ripe cantaloupe
Juice of 1 lemon
2 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup half and half
3/4 cup turbinado sugar
Halve the melon and remove the seeds and schmutz.
Use a large spoon to scoop out all the melon meat!
Place in a mixing bowl with the juice from 1 lemon hand-squeezed by Sadie Sauter.
Smash into a purée using a potato masher or your angry fists.
Drain the juice into a seperate container, cover the purée and refrigerate.
Whisk sugar into the cream a little at a time. Once the sugar granules are completely dissolved pour in the half and half along with the reserved melon broth. Refrigerate for 1/2 an hour.
Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze following your ice cream maker's instructions.
After the ice cream stiffens, add the cantaloupe purée.
If additional juice had accumulated, do not pour it in because it will water down the ice cream. Continue freezing until the ice cream is ready, Freddy.
Fold into your nearest waffle cone...
...or bowl and devour!
The flavor was fresh and intense. The melon funk was tamed like I hoped - the cream mellowed the overpowering fruitastic sweetness and elevated the subtle flavor nuances to the surface.
It was truly delicious.