We posted an article awhile back about enjoying melons on hot summer days (Ten Ways to Beat the Heat with Summer Melons). I spoke with a few local Farmer’s Market venders and asked them about how to chose melons that are ripe and ready to eat, and here is the jest of what they had to say, starting with the cantaloupe:
Cantaloupe, Mark said, is one of the most popular melons in America. While the cantaloupe is deeply loved by many, as Mark went on to say, “It’s equally disappointing when you get a cantaloupe that either isn’t ripe yet or has passed its prime”. To make sure you don’t suffer from this disappointment, here are some tips that Mark shared with us on how to chose the best cantaloupe.
* When picking out the perfect cantaloupe, you want to use your senses. Let’s start with sight. Look at the color of your cantaloupe. You want one that has more yellow tones to it. Pay close attention to the colors between the webbed portion of the cantaloupe. If it’s still green it’s not ripe; it was picked too soon.
* Look for a mark on the side of the melon that is flat and is slightly different in color. This is the side which was on the ground and did not see sun.
* Listen – Now you need to give the melon a little listen. Holding it in your hand, knock a few times on the side of the cantaloupe. If it’s deep and thick, then you have a good dense and full cantaloupe. If it has a high-pitched sound, then it isn’t ripe.
* Feel – You need to know how the cantaloupe feels in your hands too. You want it to be firm, but not too firm. Squeeze it gently on its ends. If there’s some give to it, it’s good. However, if it’s mushy and wet then it’s past its prime. If it’s too hard with no give then it’s not a ripe cantaloupe.
* Smell – This might be the most important of your senses when choosing the perfect cantaloupe. You want one that is very aromatic and sweet smelling. The sweeter, the better. If you don’t smell any aroma, then the cantaloupe is not ripe. If it’s an unpleasant odor, then it’s no good. If you do nothing else but smell, then you should still be able to find the most flavorsome cantaloupe possible.
* Taste it! Of course this isn’t something you can do in the grocery store or at the market, but clearly the best way to tell if a cantaloupe is at its freshest is by tasting it. Hopefully you have used your other senses in the ways described above so you don’t get a mouthful of tasteless cantaloupe. That would be a big disappointment.
The thing when picking out the perfect cantaloupe is to remember the nursery rhyme Goldilocks and the Three Bears. You don’t want it too firm or too soft. You don’t want it too green or too yellow. You don’t want it too strong smelling or not smelling enough. It needs to be just right. Then you will know that you have found the absolute perfect cantaloupe.
Also remember, once a cantaloupe is picked from the vine it will not get any riper than it is at that moment it was picked. So don’t buy a slightly unripe cantaloupe thinking that if you give it a few days it will get better.
Please return as we have tips on How to Choose and Store Watermelon.
What Others are saying About Cantaloupe: