Tips For Buying Melons Jan 31, 2004 14:08:02 GMT -6
Post by chief_cook2 on Jan 31, 2004 14:08:02 GMT -6
Selection of melons for quality and flavor is
difficult, challenging the skill of even the
most experienced buyer. Although no
absolute formula exists, considering several
factors when judging a melon will increase
the likelihood of success.
Cantaloupe, generally available from May
through September, are produced
principally in California, Arizona, and
Texas. Some are also imported early in the
Look for: There are three major signs of full
maturity. First, the stem should be gone,
leaving a smooth symmetrical, shallow
base called a "full slip." If all or part of the
stem base remains, or if the stem scar is
jagged or torn, the melon is probably not
fully matured. Second, the netting, or
veining, should be thick, coarse, and corky,
and should stand out in bold relief over
some part of the surface. Third, the skin
color (ground color) between the netting
should have changed from green to
yellowish-buff, yellowish-gray, or pale
Signs of ripeness: A cantaloupe might be
mature, but not ripe. A ripe cantaloupe will
have a yellowish cast to the rind, have a
pleasant cantaloupe aroma, and yield
slightly to light thumb pressure on the
blossom end of the melon.
Most cantaloupes are quite firm when
freshly displayed in retail stores. While
some may be ripe, most have not yet
reached their best eating stage. Hold them
for two to four days at room temperature to
allow completion of ripening. After
conditioning melons, some people like to
place them in the refrigerator for a few
hours before serving.
Avoid: Overripeness is indicated by a
pronounced yellow rind color, a softening
over the entire rind, and soft, watery, and
insipid flesh. Small bruises normally will
not hurt the fruit, but large bruised areas
should be avoided, since they generally
cause soft, water-soaked areas underneath
the rind. Mold growth on the cantaloupe
(particularly in the stem-scar, or if the tissue
under the mold is soft and wet) is a sign of
This sweet, juicy melon is normally
pumpkin-shaped with a very slight
tendency to be pointed at the stem end. It is
not netted, but has shallow, irregular
furrows running from the stem end toward
the blossom end. The rind is hard with
light green or yellow color. The stem does
not separate from the melon, and must be
cut in harvesting. The casaba melon season
is from July to November. Casabas are
produced in California and Arizona.
Look for: Ripe melons with a gold-yellow
rind color and a slight softening at the
blossom end. Casabas have no aroma.
Avoid: Dark, sunken, water-soaked spots
which indicate decay.
Its large size and distinctive shape make
this melon easy to identify. It is rounded at
the blossom end and tends to be pointed at
the stem end. The rind is relatively smooth
with only very shallow lengthwise
furrowing. The flesh is pale orange, juicy,
delicious, and generally considered
outstanding in the melon family.
Crenshaws are grown in California from
July through October, with peak shipments
in August and September.
Look for: There are three signs of ripeness.
First, the rind should be generally a deep
golden yellow, sometimes with small areas
having a lighter shade of yellow. Second,
the surface should yield slightly to
moderate pressure, particularly at the
blossom end. Third, the melon should
have a pleasant aroma.
Avoid: Slightly sunken, water-soaked areas
on the rind are signs of decay.
The honey ball melon is very similar to the
honey dew melon, except that it is much
smaller, very round, and slightly and
irregularly netted over the surface. Use the
same buying tips for this melon as for the
honey dew melon.
The outstanding flavor characteristics of
honey dews make them highly prized as a
dessert fruit. The melon is large (4 to 8 lb.),
bluntly oval in shape, and generally very
smooth with only occasional traces of
surface netting. The rind is firm and ranges
from creamy white to creamy yellow,
depending on the stage of ripeness. The
stem does not separate from the fruit, and
must be cut for harvesting.
Honey dews are available to some extent
almost all year round, due in part to
imports during the winter and spring. Chief
sources, however, are California, Arizona,
and Texas. The most abundant supplies are
available from July through October.
Look for: A soft, velvety texture indicates
maturity. Slight softening at the blossom
end, a faint pleasant fruit aroma, and
yellowish-white to creamy rind color
Avoid: Dead-white or greenish-white color
and a hard, smooth feel are signs of
immaturity. Large, water-soaked, bruised
areas are signs of injury; and cuts or
punctures through the rind usually lead to
decay. Small, superficial, sunken spots do
not damage the melon for immediate use,
but large decayed spots will.
Persian melons resemble cantaloupe, but
are more nearly round, have finer netting,
and are about the same size as honey dews.
The flesh is thick, fine-textured, and
orange-colored. Grown primarily in
California, they are available in fair supply
in August and September.
Look for: The same quality and ripeness
factors listed for cantaloupe apply to Persian
Although watermelons are available to
some degree from early May through
September, peak supplies come in June,
July, and August. Judging the quality of a
watermelon is very difficult unless it is cut
in half or quartered.
Look for: Firm, juicy flesh with good, red
color free from white streaks, and dark
brown or black seeds. Seedless watermelons
often contain small white, immature seeds,
which are normal for this type.
Avoid: Melons with pale-colored flesh,
white streaks (or "white heart"), and
whitish seeds (indicating immaturity). Dry,
mealy flesh, or watery stringy flesh are signs
of overmaturity or aging after harvest.
When buying an uncut watermelon, here
are a few appearance factors that may be
helpful (though not totally reliable) in
guiding you to a satisfactory selection: The
watermelon surface should be relatively
smooth; the rind should have a slight
dullness (neither shiny nor dull); the ends
of the melon should be filled out and
rounded; and the underside or "belly" of
the melon should have a creamy color.