Cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon, oh my! Don’t let these peak-season fruits pass you by. Here are five tips for making the most of melons.Pick it right. The presence or condition of an attached stem is an excellent indicator of whether a melon was harvested mature. For honeydews and cantaloupes, the stem should be gone (detached cleanly and completely). For watermelons, the stem should be dry and shriveled looking. Here are more indicators:
Dew melons (like gold, green, or orange honeydew)
- Select fruit with a strong candy-like fragrance. Note that refrigeration can sometimes mask melon fragrance.
- As dew melons ripen on the vine, the interior sugars will penetrate the rind. This will make the outside of the melon feel “tacky” instead of slick and will give the exterior a yellowish cast.
Musk melons (like cantaloupes)
- Look for fruit with a strong musky sweet fragrance. Note that refrigeration can sometimes mask melon fragrance.
- The “second” color under the surface netting can also indicate ripeness. Melons that are yellow or yellow-green as opposed to dark green are best.
Watermelon (yellow and red)
- Watermelons should be uniformly firm (even on the blossom end)
- Like honeydew, watermelon rind will change color as the fruit ripens. The best way to tell if a watermelon was harvested mature is to look at the white spot, which is the part of the melon that rested on the ground and was not exposed to direct sunlight as it was growing. As a watermelon ripens on the vine the white spot will turn a pale yellow.
Store it right. Melons will continue to ripen after they’ve been harvested when stored at room temperature though if they are harvested immature, chances are good that they will not get any sweeter. If cut, cover the surfaces and refrigerate.
Mind the rind. Watermelon rinds can be pickled and shells can be used as bowls for fruit salad.
Save the seeds. In our Melon Seed Agua Fresca recipe, the seeds from two cantaloupe or honeydew melons are puréed for creamy and refreshing drinks.
What’s your favorite way to enjoy melon? Share it in the comments section below.