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Learn how to tell if a cantaloupe is ripe and enjoy the sweet taste of this delicious musk melon. See exactly how to pick a cantaloupe like a pro and say goodbye to bland or hard melon!

Determining how to tell is a cantaloupe is ripe by checking firmness to the touch

There’s nothing quite like biting into a sweet, juicy cantaloupe. These succulent summer fruits are delicious on their own, in fruit salads and in smoothies. But if you don’t know what to look for, you may wind up with a bland fruit or an unpleasant texture. Whether picked from the vine or bought in a store, it can be tricky to select a good cantaloupe.

Ripe vs Unripe Cantaloupe

There’s a world of a difference between a ripe and unripe musk melon! Often people who think they don’t like cantaloupe have been eating unripe ones all along. The lack of moisture makes then hard and unpleasant to eat. The flavor will also be bland.

In contrast, a ripe cantaloupe is incredibly sweet and juicy enough to run down your chin! You just need to know how to find one.

How to Tell If a Cantaloupe is Ripe and Sweet?

Want to know how to pick a cantaloupe? There are several different telltale signs:

  1. Heavy Feeling: The melon should feel heavier than it looks when you go and pick it up.
  2. Beige Color: The skin should be tan with a pale yellow color between the netting, while the flesh will be a coral-orange color.
  3. Firm to the Touch: The surface of the cantaloupe should be firm like a pineapple, but not hard like a watermelon.
  4. Fragrant Smell: It should give off a pleasant and sweet aroma that’s slightly musky. If you don’t notice any smell, it’s likely not ripe.
  5. Stem: If the stem is still attached, then the cantaloupe was picked too soon. Instead, the stem area should be smooth and slightly concave.

In addition to these telltale signs, watch out for indicators of over-ripeness such as an overpowering smell or a mushy surface.

Wedges of ripe cantaloupe with bright, coral-colored flesh

What Does a Ripe Cantaloupe Melon Look Like?

A ripe cantaloupe will have beige, tan, creamy yellow or golden rind. Green rind indicates that the fruit is unripe. The fruit will have a raised, textured webbing on its exterior. Don’t be concerned with discoloration – this is usually just the spot where the melon rested on the ground while being grown in the field.

What Does a Ripe Cantaloupe Taste Like?

When cantaloupe is harvested at the right time, it will be sweet, juicy and tender. Cantaloupe has a distinctive, slightly floral flavor. If the fruit is bitter or lacks flavor, it was likely picked too early.

Serving of ripe cantaloupe

How to Pick a Ripe Cantaloupe in the Field?

It takes a cantaloupe plant 70 to 100 days after planting to be ready for harvest. If you pick them sooner, there’s a good chance you’ll get hard, bitter or flavorless melon. Also, it’s important to note that they stop ripening once picked unlike many other fruits!

In the field, a ripe cantaloupe will easily detach from the vine, so don’t pick it if you feel any resistance. You can also follow the tips above on how to tell if a cantaloupe is ripe including the telltale signs like firm skin and sweet smell.

How Do You Ripen A Cantaloupe from the Store?

Unfortunately, once a green cantaloupe has been detached from the vine, its flavor will not change. This is in stark contrast to a mango, banana or other fruits.

Nonetheless, it’s possible to soften the texture somewhat and make the fruit juicier. Just put it in a paper bag at room temperature for a few days to speed up the process.

Homemade cantaloupe juice

How Long Does It Take for a Cantaloupe to Ripen in a Paper Bag?

A cantaloupe doesn’t ripen after picking, but placing in a paper bag can help improve the softness. Check after two days to see if there has been any improvement, and if not put it back in the bag and check daily until it reaches your desired texture.

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