If picking a ripe melon feels like a completely daunting task, I can assure you that you're not alone. Sometimes this choice feels more like a leap of faith, where you cross your fingers and hope for the best.
But there are ways to discover the sweetest, ripest, juiciest melons, and to pluck them from the heap.
Picking a good melon comes with challenges. It's not like selecting berries where you can see green hints of unripeness. And it's certainly not as easy as selecting a good peach or nectarine, where you can feel for juiciness, and smell the scent of perfect ripeness.
From now on, use these 5 tips to pick a ripe melon every time!
1. Inspect the melon for defects.
Your first order of business should be to inspect what the melon looks like. Does it have any bruising, soft spots or cracks? Choose a melon that's not damaged on the outside. It should be free of bruises, soft spots, moldy patches and cracks.
2. Check the skin color.
When buying watermelon and honeydew, choose a melon with a dull looking appearance. A shiny outside is an indicator of an underripe melon. Also, honeydews should be pale yellow to light lemon in color, not overly green.
With melons such as cantaloupe and muskmelons, the rind underneath the net-like texture should be golden or orange in color. Avoid melons with an underlying green or white color.
3. Size does matter.
Pick up a few melons and see how they feel. Choose a melon that's heavy for its size.
4. Tap, tap, tap!
Have you ever tried the tapping test when buying a watermelon? It's quite simple. Just tap the melon with the palm of your hand. If you hear a hollow sound, it's passed the first test.
5. Don't forget the smell test.
This works best with melons like cantaloupes and honeydew. Push your fingers on the round section where the vine was attached. It should be slightly soft and should smell fresh and fragrant with a hint of sweetness.
What's your best advice for picking a ripe melon?
Updated from a post originally published September 2008.
(Image credits: sarsmis/Shutterstock)