With spring approaching and fresh melons coming into season it is helpful to know how to pick out a good, ripe melon. There are a lot of old wife’s tales about how to pick a good melon. The most common is to knock on a watermelon and pick it based on the sound of the thunk it makes. However, knocking on melons like this only bruises them and is not a good way to choose a ripe one. Here is a breakdown of the most common melon types you will find in your local grocery store and how to pick a ripe one.
Al Melons: Melons do not continue to ripen after they are picked like some other fruits so do not buy one thinking it will ripen after you take it home. Look for amelons that are symmetrical in shape and is heavy for their size.
Watermelon: It should have a smooth rind with no soft spots or cracks. While most of the melon should have a nice green color the underside should be a firm yellowish or cream color and not white or light green. The stem should be attached and dried. The stem will also be fragrant and slightly soft at the very end. Another way to check for ripeness is by scratching the surface with a fingernail. If it is a green-white color beneath the outermost layer of rind then the watermelon is more likely to be ripe. If you are buying a portion of a watermelon that has already been cut, look for one that is firm and juicy with deep-red flesh and dark black seeds, assuming it is not a seedless watermelon. Avoid ones with streaks of white or a reddish-tan color.
Cantaloupe and Muskmelon: Most of what is sold in the USA as “cantaloupe” are actually muskmelons. The rind on a ripe muskmelon will be tan or yellow but not green. It should also have a thick coarse netting. Unlike watermelons, muskmelons can also be checked for ripeness by smell. It should have a sweet smell. Also, the rind will yield to slight pressure at the blossom end. There should be no temp remaining and there should be a smooth depression where the stem use to be. If you’re looking at one that is already cut open it should have a sweet and juicy orange flesh.
Honeydew: They should have a creamy yellowish rind. The blossom end will be slightly soft like a muskmelon. The overall rind should feel a little soft in the hand and not overly hard. Also like muskmelons, honeydews have a slight sweet fragrance. If the honeydew has already been cut open it should have a light green juicy flesh.
“Watermelon” Food Network