The size of cantaloupes can vary according to the climatic conditions of a particular region. An average sized fruit consists of about 100 calories. They belong to the Cucurbitaceae family which includes a variety of squashes and melons. Although the origin of this fruit can be traced to ancient times, there is no conclusive evidence of this fact.
Origin and History
Some food historians believe that cultivation of cantaloupes date back to the Biblical period in Egypt and Greece, while others believe it was first cultivated in Persia, Armenia, and India. This fruit, which was depicted in Egyptian paintings dating back to the Biblical period was identified as a melon, although there was no distinction in ancient times between the netted and non-netted variety of cantaloupes. In ancient times, the Romans got their supply of melons from Armenia. "Apicius", a collection of ancient Roman recipes indicated the use of melons. The size of these fruits was small as compared to the ones we see today.
It was in the late fourteenth century that cultivation of cantaloupes became prominent in Italy. It is also believed that in the fifteenth century, the popularity of the fruit grew steadily in the southern part of Spain. The Arabs who established their settlements in Andalusia, brought the seeds and popularized the trade of cantaloupes. On his second voyage in 1494, Christopher Columbus introduced this fruit to the new world, especially North America. Around the sixteenth century, melon seeds were brought from Armenia and planted in the Papal gardens in the city of Cantalupo, near Tivoli, Italy. This fruit was named after the comune Cantalupo in Sabina near Tivoli, Italy. In the seventeenth century, the southern parts of France saw a surge in the cultivation of cantaloupes. The conducive climatic conditions provided enough warmth for them to ripen. These cantaloupes were referred to as sucrins by the French, which meant sugar. Even today, Charentais, a popular cantaloupe in most parts of Europe is mostly cultivated in France.
The Netted Gem, a popular variety in cantaloupes were introduced to the United States in 1881 by the W. Atlee Burpee Company. By 1895, the production of cantaloupes began steadily in the state of Colorado. It was only after the Civil War that the cantaloupe crop became increasingly popular. During the 1900s, British writer Michael Arlen, while on a trip to Armenia, highlighted the fact that the "casaba melon", which derived its name from the city Kasaba, in Turkey, made its way to California through the Armenians. Today, the San Joaquin Valley and Imperial Valley in California are popular regions for cantaloupe cultivation.
Although cantaloupes are extensively grown in most parts of the world, the history and origin of this fruit is inconclusive, but references made in ancient times indicate that cantaloupe cultivation was very much existent during those times.