Don't put one of the sweetest pleasures of summer in the hands of the produce department by purchasing pre-cut chunks of melon. Instead, learn how to cut a cantaloupe at home—after all, the tastiest melon is one that you cut yourself. Enjoying slices or cubes of that bright orange fragrant flesh starts with picking out the best, ripest melon and then putting in a small amount of knife work to get it from melon to slice.
There is no one right way to cut a cantaloupe, but we're sharing a handy technique that offers a few different options, a choose-your-own cantaloupe adventure of sorts. And in case you were wondering, this cutting method also applies to honeydew, watermelon, or pretty much any melon, so it's well worth learning.
Buying and Storing
Look for a melon with prominent webbing, a paler, slightly flattened side, and no attached stem. These are signs that the cantaloupe was allowed to fully ripen before being harvested, thus ensuring the deepest flavor. Then, take a whiff: A ripe melon will be intensely fragrant. It should be firm, not rock hard, and feel heavy for its size. Cantaloupes, like other melons, are perishable so keep yours in a cool, dry place. If it begins to soften or develop sunken areas, move it to the refrigerator and use within a day or two. If cut, cover, and refrigerate the melon in an airtight container for up to four days.
How to Cut
First, before slicing, make sure to clean the melon to prevent any bacteria on the skin from being transferred into the flesh. Then, get to work. Place the cantaloupe on your work surface and slice off the bottom and top ends, creating a flat surface on both sides which exposes the flesh. Discard the ends. Then rotate the cantaloupe so that it is standing up on one of the two flat ends, which keeps the melon sturdy on the work surface, creating an easier and safer cutting experience.
Next up, get ready to choose; you can either remove the skin first or proceed with cutting the cantaloupe with the skin on and remove it later.
Remove the Skin and Slice
Using your knife, slice off the outer skin of the melon revealing the flesh while following the shape of the sphere. Discard the skin. Slice the exposed melon in half either lengthwise or crosswise and use a spoon to scoop the seeds from the center, discard the seeds. From there you can thinly slice the melon crosswise or lengthwise, slice it into wedges, or cut the melon into chunks and enjoy!
Or Slice First, Then Remove the Skin
Rather than removing the skin to start, some people find it easier to keep it on for now. In this variation on how to cut a cantaloupe, cut the melon in half crosswise or lengthwise and use a spoon to scoop the seeds from the center, just like in the prior method, except the skin is still on the melon. Discard the seeds. If you are preparing melon balls, go ahead and use a melon baller or teaspoon to remove the flesh until you hit the skin.
For pieces, proceed cutting as follows: Slice the skin-on melon halves into wedges by halving one piece, then quartering each half, and so on until you reach desired wedge size. Enjoy as is with the skin on or place a wedge skin side down on the work surface and use a knife to slice along the skin, following the shape of the sphere removing the skin. Discard the skin. From here, the melon pieces can be enjoyed in wedges or cut into chunks or any shape you like.