How to Choose the Perfect Cantaloupe

by Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD on June 1, 2011

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It’s official. Cantaloupes are in season (June to September). But I have to admit that I have a love/hate relationship with the fruit.

Why I love them? They are sweet and tasty, my kids love them and they are packed with nutrition. One cup of melon provides over 100% the Daily Value of both vitamins A and C. So if your kid doesn’t eat his vitamin-A rich greens, this is the fruit for you!

What I hate about them? It’s hard to figure out if they are ripe or not. Nothing is worse then opening one up to find it is hard and tastes horrible. The same is true when you buy one that is mushy and overripe.

So for the past year I’ve been a student of cantaloupe. I’ve studied them, talked to the produce guy and think I have finally figured out to how to pick a good one. Here are 3 steps that are helpful:

1. Check the color: When choosing cantaloupe you first want to pick it up and look at the color. The lighter the color the better — a niece beige color is good. You want to avoid ones that look too green. This pup was perfect.

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2. Check for softness on the blossom end: Check this side of the melon and press with your thumbs. It should have some give, but not too much.

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3. Smell it! Ripe cantaloupes should smell sweet but if it is too smelly, it could be overripe. Check for a fragrant melon but it shouldn’t be overwhelming.

But then comes the moment of truth. Did I get it right? Will my kids be happy or sad? Open it up and you’ll know instantly.

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This one is a keeper!

Does your family eat cantaloupe? What other melons do you enjoy?

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Shannon June 1, 2011 at 8:03 am

Thank you SOOOO Much for this information!!! As of lately my daughter is in love with cantaloupe!!! I try to buy them as much as I can. Besides cantaloupe we also like: watermelon, and honey-dew melon.

Kathy Gillen @ Wellness Roadtrip June 1, 2011 at 8:47 am

Oh my gosh…you stirred up fond memories for me. When I was in college I worked at a specialty food market in the produce section. Daily I had to pick out melons for picky patrons! The first few weeks I was so stressed by it…then…like you learned I followed basically your same three tips!

mostlyfitmom June 1, 2011 at 9:48 am

I don’t love cantaloupe, and my kids don’t either. We’ll eat it, but I’d much rather pick out something else.

Amy June 1, 2011 at 10:58 am

I read (and this seems to hold true) if you hold a canteloupe up to your ear and knock on it, if it is ripe it should sound hollow.

AKeo June 1, 2011 at 5:06 pm

I absolutely love cantaloupe – second favorite after peaches. My son’s a big fruit eater but hasn’t taken to cantaloupe yet. We do eat a lot of watermelon and honey dew. All 3 of us enjoy those!

Alison June 1, 2011 at 7:59 pm

I’m bookmarking this page – I always wonder and pretend like I know what I’m doing when I pick out cantaloupes at the store. :)

Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD June 1, 2011 at 9:40 pm

I’ve heard that too — will try it next time.

Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD June 1, 2011 at 9:43 pm

Alison — it took me over a year to figure it out!

Michelle Segar June 2, 2011 at 7:30 am

Maryann,

That was great advice – thank you. I always avoid cantaloupes because I’m not sure about picking them. I’m going to get one the next shopping trip!
Michelle Segar

Nicole June 2, 2011 at 7:10 pm

I love cantaloupe but noone else in the family does. I like honey dew melon too. I keep offering to my kids just in case:)

Misty June 2, 2011 at 9:12 pm

The only cantaloupe I’ve ever really enjoyed was the one I bought at the farmers market, which the vendor picked out for me! Now I know why, I must have gotten over or under ripe before. My son & I love honeydew & watermelon (every time I smell watermelon I think “summer”).

Shandela June 10, 2011 at 7:51 am

What a wonderful tidbit of information. Thank you so much! I always feel like choosing a cantaloupe is a bit of a tossup, you never know if it is going to be good or not. I have a tendency to buy them too “green”! I will use these tips at the Famer’s Market today! We also love Watermelon but don’t care for Honeydew!

susan March 24, 2012 at 10:45 pm

Just yesterday I picked out a cantaloupe that passed all the tests and then when I ate the flesh it tasted like it was mildewed. I know there are chemicals that speed up the ripening process so it can look perfect on the outside and be horrible on the inside. They aren’t supposed to be stored over 7 days before they are put out for sale so they can look great and be stored too long because on the outside they look good but on the inside they are old. It is so hard to get good fruit where I live, northern Maine. Probably the storage process to ship fruit this far. I have to say that last season the taste of strawberries has improved and even the huge, papery ones tasted sweet. I had given up on them. Watermelons are catch as catch can except for a very short season; if I buy them, even when they are heavy and perfect looking, they can often be red slimy mush inside. Oh for the beautiful, big sweet watermelons of my childhood!

produce mgr May 6, 2012 at 10:25 pm

Listen, don’t go into the store..ask the produce man/women to pick one and then question it with what you read on the internet.. there are a ton of different methods.. but a nice yellowish color( when it’s green it still needs time to ripen) some give at the blossom end, then a nice clean break at the vine. If there’s stem attached, it wasn’t quite ready to be picked and was yanked prematurely. But melons go through seasons early May, may not have the best sh** just yet, and if your buying melons in October I hope your buying it for a Cant-o-latern.. Once again don’t go to your produce guy and say I bought this melon May 1st or in October and say “It was terrible” ..go figure.

M. June 29, 2012 at 11:48 am

Saw a lady listening to a cantalope in the store yesterday. I asked her if she could hear the ripeness and she said she could. I tried not to laugh. But thinking back on it, I would like to know what that sound is!

Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD June 29, 2012 at 1:10 pm

I’ve heard of that too but not sure if it helps!

Wanda July 29, 2013 at 3:31 am

A few days ago I bought 2 cantelopes. One I cut up and put in fridge, wasn’t very sweet was so disappointed, the other I placed on my counter. After about 3 days, took me that long to get down the first melon I had cut up, I cut up the melon that sat on my counter and boy!! let me tell ya that melon was the sweetest as it could be. It was delicious and juicey, I was amazed. Wondering, letting it sit out like that for a few days(and they was warm days over 80 degrees) could have had anything to do with that or was it just I picked to different melons in different stages of its ripeness?

Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD July 29, 2013 at 7:16 am

It probably wasn’t that ripe when you got it and sitting out helped ripen it. Sometimes I wait too long and it is overripe. It can be hard to get it right!

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