Joni Sare, cooking instructor

How to select a cantaloupe, muskmelon

Want to know how to tell if a cantaloupe, muskmelon is ripe?

Want to know how to choose the best tasting cantaloupe, muskmelon?

If so … keep reading… please let me know if this info was helpful.

If I didn’t cover your question, please share it below.

  • LOOK at it (the exterior color and texture)

    • A green exterior (under the netting and in the grooves) indicates young, immature, will have a lighter-colored inner meat, not-so sweet. Store on counter (see RIPENING tip, below). Eat when turns yellow/orange (see next tip).
    • A yellow/orange-ish exterior and grooves is a mature melon, and it will have a deeper yellow/orange-colored meat, and is sweet tasting. Eat within 3 days if at room temp (about 70 degrees). Eat within 2 days if hotter temp. Eat within 4 days if stored in the fridge (see STORAGE tips, below).
    • A white-ish exterior is over mature, it will be soft, dimple-ly, will have dull-colored drier sponge-like meat, real musky taste, the seeds will give off a strong musky odor and taint the flavor of the meat. Eat same day, or cut into pieces – removing the seeds and areas that are white and soft, then store remaning pieces in fridge (see STORAGE tip, below).
  • SMELL it

    • A sweet melon aroma will be strongest just after picking where the fruit was attached to the vine, the stem end. This aroma will dissipate within days of being picked.
    • The blossom-end (opposite that of the stem-end) will have a fragrance, too, and a bit soft to the touch when ripe.
    • The strongest aroma will come from muskmelons that were picked when ripe (yellow/orange-colored).
  • LIFT it (feel the weight of it)

    • The heavier, the better … it has more water, thus more taste and longer lasting. One that is lighter-weight probably has less water (due to evaporation), and will have a more sponge-like texture.

Listen to the sound that is produced when you knock or tap on it. Develop your knocking and/or tapping techniques and hone in on your ability to discern the tones of melons.

  • A deeper dense-resounding thump comes from more water content that sends sound waves throughout the connective tissue (fiber) of the meat, which means this is a good tasting, not too spongy, melon.
  • A tinny, light, quick, not-so-deep thump indicates an unripe melon: the rind is tight, which holds the tone to the outer-most edges of the melon, the tapping sound cannot penetrate throughout the melon.
  • A very dull sound most likely indicates an overripe melon: the rind has softened from air and moisture escaping, which diminishes the resonance within, the tapping cannot penetrate throughout the melon. The meat is probably quite spongy in texture and appearance (not-so-appealing).

Does cantaloupe, muskmelon ripen after picking? ripen off the vine?

YES, muskmelons and cantaloupes will continue to ripen after being picked, removed from the vine. Place on the counter, and like all other produce – avoid direct sunlight. Ripening will be slowed in cooler weather (the fridge), and, ripening will go faster in warmer weather (hot days).


Store separately from other produce b/c two reasons:

  • they not only release air and moisture they also absorb air/flavors (same as eggs and some other produce).
  • they off-gas ethylene (as some other produce does), which will ripen anything else that is close by.

If stored in fridge:

  • Wash (with Veggie Spray) and pat dry, put in plastic bag and/or in produce drawer.
  • Bring to room temp for 2 hours before consuming for best sweet flavor.


More info:

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