Cantaloupe (Cucumis melo L. var. reticulatus Naud.) is often, incorrectly, referred to interchangeably as Muskmelon. This botanical group, however, includes honeydew, crenshaw, Persian, casaba and other 'mixed melons.
Cantaloupes are harvested by maturity. Commercial maturity is ideally at the firmripe stage or "3/4 to full-slip" when a clear abscission from the vine occurs with light pressure. Cantaloupes ripen after harvest but do not increase in sugar content. Cultivars vary in their external color at this stage of maturity and may retain a greenish cast. The skin color typically transitions from dull green to straw color at full ripeness.
Well-shaped nearly spherical and uniform in appearance. Smooth stem end with no adhering peduncle which suggests premature harvest. Absence of scars, sunburn or surface defects. Firm with no evidence of bruising or excessive scuffing. Appears heavy for size and has firm internal cavity without loose seeds or liquid accumulation. U.S. grades are Fancy, No. 1, Commercial and No. 2. Distinction among grades is based predominantly on external appearances and measured soluble solids. Federal Grade Standards specify a minimum of 11% soluble solids for U.S. Fancy and 9% soluble solids for U.S. 1. A calibrated refractometer, measuring oBrix, is accepted as the current standard for soluble solids measurements.