Melons, How to Choose Good Ones

(And get your money's worth!)

Are you guilty of sniffing melons?

Years ago I had my young nephew with me at a roadside produce stand. He pointed to an elderly woman who was sniffing a cantaloupe. He wrinkled up his nose distastefully and asked loudly, "What's she doing?"

That nephew is now over 30 years old. He's probably done his own share of sniffing cantaloupes.

Yes, a sweet-smelling rind is a good sign that these fruits are equally sweet and ripe. However, not all of them will give you a fragrance. If they have been in the refrigerator, you need to check for other clues.

A melon should be a bit soft when you press it at the stem end. Of course, if it has mushy spots--or is cracked or shriveled-- don't put it in your shopping cart!

Let the fruit on the counter for one or two days to develop their full flavor. Or, if you are in a hurry for them to ripen, put them in loosely-closed paper bags.

When melons are ripe, they need to be refrigerated to stop the ripening process. I think they taste best if allowed to come to room temperature (or at least cooled slightly) before eating.


The stem end will be indented if the cantaloupe was ripe enough to come off the vine at the correct time, as it should. Otherwise it has been chopped off.

The rind should be cream colored and covered with a netted texture. I find that if the netting is heavy, the cantaloupe is better.


Ripe honeydews have smooth creamy or yellowish-colored rinds. Those that are still green are not yet ripe. They should have a slight aroma and be soft at the end where the stem was.


Ripe watermelons sound hollow when you give them a hearty thump. They should have a symmetrical shape. The underside should be a light yellow color, as this is where the watermelon lay on the ground.

If you are buying a cut piece of watermelon, you want bright red flesh (not dark) with shiny black seeds.

If buying seedless ones, they do have seeds, but they are white, soft, and edible.

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