Summer is officially here and for many, that means an abundance of fresh local fruit is now available! So let’s take advantage of melon season and enjoy fresh, sweet fruit all summer long. Cantaloupes are at their peak flavor generally between June and August but you want to make sure you pick a good one. After all, there’s nothing worse than cutting into a melon only to discover it’s completely bland! But did you know there are a few ways you can tell if you’ve picked a perfectly ripe cantaloupe? Follow along as we uncover how to pick a perfect cantaloupe.
First, you’ll want to feel the cantaloupe. You want to be on the lookout for any mushy/soft spots which indicate rot. A perfect cantaloupe will be firm but not rock-hard. You’ll also want to press the blossom end (opposite of the stem) and you should feel a bit of give. You’ll also want to pay attention to the weight of the cantaloupe. A good melon will feel heavy. Finally, give the melon a tap and listen to the sound it makes. A ripe melon will sound solid while an underripe melon will sound hollow.
Now that you’ve felt it, you’ll want to look it over. The color of the rind should be creamy yellow, beige, or sandy gold. If the rind is green this indicates that the melon is unripe. Further, you’ll also want to make sure the webbing appears as raised ridges. If there is a smooth yellowish spot on the rind, this indicates the cantaloupe was resting in the field and can be a great sign that the melon is ripe. Last, you’ll want to look over the stem. It should appear round, smooth, and a bit concave (indented) as this indicates the melon detached from the stem naturally. If any parts of the stem are still attached that usually means the farmer cut the melon too soon.
Last but not least you’ll want to smell the cantaloupe. The best spot to smell the cantaloupe is the blossom end which again, is the opposite end of the stem. It should smell sweet but a little bit musky which can indicate the melon is perfectly ripe. If it smells bad, it’s clearly not a good melon and if it smells overly sweet or if it has a fermented odor this could indicate that the melon is overripe.
If you were lucky enough to find a perfectly ripe cantaloupe make sure you put it right in the fridge as soon as you get home. Your melon will stay perfectly ripe for up to five days before eating if it’s kept in the fridge. If you don’t think your melon is quite ready to eat, store it on the counter at room temperature and repeat the above steps until you think it’s ready. One of the most important things to remember is once you cut into a cantaloupe it won’t ripen any further so be sure that it’s ready before slicing the melon!
Now that you’re an expert at picking a perfect cantaloupe check out our guide on how to pick the perfect watermelon!