Every Saturday during melon season, I was asked the same question over and over; “Could you select a melon for me?” “How can I tell if a melon is ripe?” “How do I store this at home?” So let me try to arm you with the information you need. First of all, one of the great things about shopping at your local farmers market is that most, not all, of the farmer’s at the market grew what they are selling, that being said, the melon was picked ripe, there are degrees of ripeness to be sure, but the melon is certainly eatable. The problem comes in when the farmer or a grocery store purchases melons that have to be trucked to their final destination.
Cantaloupe – Good quality cantaloupes will have a lot of webbing on the skin, it will have a yellow/orange color and be slightly soft on the stem end. If the cantaloupe is not ripe enough to your liking, store at room temperature on your kitchen counter or in a loosely closed paper bag for one to two days.
Honeydew – High-quality honeydew melons should be a creamy color and the skin will almost feel waxy when ripe. They will be somewhat firm with a bit of softness at the stem.
Watermelon – Great tasting watermelons will be firm, even-shaped and heavy for its size. The easiest method to judge ripeness is to look at the spot where it laid on the ground, that should be a darker yellow, and the rind overall should have a healthy sheen. Watermelons do not ripen any further once they are cut from the vine. Most popular watermelons are round dark green or dark green striped. The light green oval shaped are usually not as sweet and red on the inside.
Seedless Watermelon– Like seeded watermelons, seedless watermelons will be firm, evenly shaped and heavy for their size. Remember seedless watermelons are not seedless, instead of the large black seeds; they have the small white seeds that some people consider edible. (I do not)
Storing Your Melons:
Uncut melons can be kept at room temperature for two to four days. Ripe melons can be refrigerated for an additional 5 days. Cut melons should be placed in a covered container and refrigerated for no more than three to four days.
Melons taste wonderful just as they are. Although, we are going to play around with them this week (that’s what we do.) We like cantaloupe sprinkled with salt and a little black pepper, the combination is amazing, wrap them in prosciutto or any cured meats, blend the flesh and add the juice to anything, perfect addition to any fruit salad. Watermelon is wonderful with salt as well, we also like honey and lime or balsamic vinegar. Let us know your favorite way to enjoy melons and we will pass them on to our readers.
I hope that I was able to shed some light on the picking a melon question, please comment here or on facebook if you have any other questions on choosing a melon or any other farm fresh fair for that matter.