Knowing When a Melon is Ripe

If you are growing melons in your garden this year (especially if you are trying them for the first time), it can be a challenge to gauge when to pick them. Even us “experts” struggle sometimes.

First, here’s a quick video that covers the basics on cantaloupe and watermelon:

But what if you are growing a different kind of melon? In the Demo Garden this year, we have 4 different melons planted, and only one of them is a true cantaloupe which will “slip” from the vine when ripe. The other three do not have that characteristic of the stem easily separating from the fruit at maturity.

This is the ‘Honey Orange’ honeydew melon (it is an orange-fleshed melon that tastes like a honeydew). Honeydew melons do not “slip,” making it a real challenge to determine if they are ripe. The two keys are supposedly that the rind turns from a green color to a creamy yellow color. Well…I’d say we are there. The other thing to look for is a slightly soft spot on the blossom end (the end away from the stem). We didn’t actually check this, but in hindsight, we probably should have.

You can see that even though it looked ripe, it obviously wasn’t. The flavor was pretty bland and watery, and the flesh is definitely not the deep orange it should have been. Oh well…sometimes you have to pick a melon to learn what ripe looks like!

These are some very obviously NOT RIPE cantaloupe. Still very, very green and nowhere near ready to “slip.”

This is the other melon I’m struggling with: the ‘Lambkin’ melon. We only have a couple set on the vines (and one walked away this weekend), so I’m hesitant to pick it too early. It looks like it is getting close, but I would like to see just a little more yellow coloration before we go ahead and pick it. Maybe next week?


About Rebecca

I'm a Horticulture Educator with Sedgwick County Extension, a branch of K-State Research and Extension, located in Wichita, KS. I teach about fruits, vegetables, and herbs.

Posted on August 1, 2012, in Around the Garden, Harvesting & Eating, Video Wednesday and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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