Tuesday's Tip: Picking Fresh Melons - FamilyEducation

Tuesday's Tip: Picking Fresh Melons

July 05,2011

I hope you had a good Independence Day celebration!  We’re in the heart of the summer, July, which is hard to believe, since for me it always seems as though once the 4th of July passes we are on a short course toward Back-to-School preparations.

But for now, summer is at it’s peak and I am talking fresh produce and how to pick a winner.  This week’s Tuesday’s Tips are for picking tasty melons.

If you were to hide a hidden camera in a grocery store, aimed near the melon section, my guess is that you would have a good chuckle watching people try to pick a fresh, flavorful melon.  Just in my cursory looks around when I am choosing melons, I see all sorts of sniffs, taps, shakes and pinches.

Melons are a vast family of fruit, actually related to squash, but the most common include watermelon, honeydew and cantaloupe.  You can find all sorts of melons, especially in international and gourmet grocery stores, but these three melons make up a large majority of the melon sales in the United States.

Here are my tips for picking a delicious melon:

*Choose a melon that is heavy for it’s size.  To do this, pick up several melons and you will feel that there might be one or two that are heavier than others that are similarly sized.  As melons ripen, their water content increases, therefore making for a heavier melon.  Melons do not ripen or sweeten after they are picked, so the heavier the melon, the sweeter.

*Make sure the outer skin is not damaged.

*In the case of watermelons and sometimes cantaloupe, look for a yellow-ish spot on the skin.  You don’t want this spot to be mushy, but the yellow spot indicates where the melon was lying on the ground while growing.  Melons that lack this spot often translate into them being picked too early, which in turn means they probably won’t be fully sweet.

*For cantaloupes and honeydew, the part of the skin where the stem was attached should have a subtle fragrance to it.  

*Finally, for cantaloupes, the skin underneath the textured layer should be yellow or pale orange, not bright green.

Some folks swear by the “gentle thump” technique, to hear if the melon is ripe.  I believe this is an art form, as I have yet to figure out what sort of sound this thump should yield if the melon is ripe.

Once you have you melon home, try it for a recipe like Watermelon Salsa (also delicious with another sort of melon)