When the time comes for you to slice open your cantaloupe, it's important for you to be equally careful about this process. Risk of bacterial contamination in cut cantaloupe is significant and public health organizations stress the importance of safe handling practices. Be sure to wash your hands and all utensils before and after cutting cantaloupe. We recommend that you rinse a whole cantaloupe under cool running water, gently scrub the rind with a natural bristle brush, and then pat dry before you slice it open. This rinsing process with help remove unwanted bacterial contamination. Next, place the whole cantaloupe on a clean cutting surface. Cut off the top (stem end, where the vine was attached) of the cantaloupe and discard. (Research shows that bacterial contamination is more likely to occur in this spot.) Next, scoop out the seeds and slice your cantaloupe in whatever size sections you like. Since the rind is not going to be eaten, we also recommend that you cut it off at this time.
Public health organizations do make allowances for cut cantaloupe to be kept at room temperature for a very short period of time, and we recommend that you limit this time period to two hours. Cut cantaloupe left sitting at room temperature for more than two hours should be discarded. The risks here involve contamination by one of several micro-organisms, including Salmonella, Listeria, or E. coli 0157:H7. To widen the safety margin for cantaloupe even further, we recommend that you actually avoid leaving cut cantaloupe at room temperature for any period of time, and keep all cut cantaloupe in the refrigerator.
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