A type of muskmelon that has a longer ripening life, allowing it to remain firm and sweeter flavored without becoming soft. When ripe, the outer skin of this melon develops the appearance of coarse, embossed netting covering an orange inner flesh that is sweet and tender. In the U.S. where muskmelons are often referred to as cantaloupes but are not the same as European cantaloupes, Athena melons would be considered to be one of the larger varieties of cantaloupe. A typical Athena melon will weigh 5 to 7 pounds, so it will be somewhat larger in size and weight than some of the smaller varieties of muskmelon.
When checking for ripeness, depress the blossom end of the melon, opposite the stem end, to make sure it is not hard and yields slightly when depressed. And, the sweet aroma of the melon should be detectable. To ripen, place the melon in a paper bag at room temperature. To store, place ripe melons uncut in a plastic bag to be refrigerated for up to a week. When serving, add a little lemon or lime juice to enhance the flavor of the fruit.
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