Choosing a ripe cantaloupe is easy but involves a few steps. The American cantaloupe is delicious with a net-like texture to its light brown skin, and a moderately sweet orange flesh within. Use the following steps and you'll be sinking your teeth into a perfect cantaloupe in no time!
First, examine the melon. Check the cantaloupe for any defects such as soft spots, cracking and mold. Heft it in your hands. Does it seem heavy for its size? Melons are mostly water and a juicy fresh one will be dense and weighty. Examine the stem end where it was once connected to the stem. The stem end should be an “innie” not an “outie." That is, it should be sunken lower than the rest of the rind. If it’s protruding at all then it’s not ripe. It should also appear green and smooth. Jagged edges indicate that it was picked too early.
Examine the other end of the melon, called the blossom end. Gently press it with your thumb. If it’s very firm, then the cantaloupe isn’t ripe yet. But if it gives way with a little pressure, then it’s ready. Just make sure it’s not too squishy over a large area which suggests that it’s turned.
Next, smell it. Cantaloupe has a distinctive odor, sweet yet musky, yielding their alternate name of “musk melon.” Step away from the display so you are not overwhelmed by melon smell. Inhale deeply. If it doesn’t smell, or it smells unpleasant, then it’s either not yet ripe or overripe. If the cantaloupe is in a refrigerated display, it will be difficult to discern any scent. They need to be at room temperature.
Although when it comes to serving cantaloupe there are proponents of both temperatures, the room temperature melon will be more flavorful but biting into chilled cantaloupe is distinctly refreshing.