There seems to be a big mystery about picking a ripe melon, but it’s really very easy, especially if you can get them from a farmer’s market instead of the supermarket.

Things You'll Need

Pick up the melon and hold it. It should feel heavy for its size.

Inspect it for scars or tears in the skin. Most melons, even webbed ones, are delicate and tear easily. Pick one with no scars, tears, bruises or blemishes in the skin.

Roll the melon around and look for the “field spot” or “butter spot.” This is a yellowish oval area formed where the melon was resting on the ground. This is one way farmers tell when the melon is ripe. The spot, especially on green-skinned melons and watermelons, should be yellowish.

Inspect the spot where the stem was attached. Most melons detach from the stem naturally when ripe. If the stem was cut, it can mean the melon was harvested before it was ripe.

Avoid overly soft melons.

Try to avoid melons that are stacked on top of one another in stores. Some might have been crushed or cracked.

Buy melons whole if possible – cut melons are inevitably less fresh.

If possible, ask the grocer or farmer how fresh the melons are.


  • Melons are very delicate, and even in this age of mechanization, they are harvested and handled completely by hand.

  • The orange-fleshed melon with the webbed skin that we usually call a cantaloupe is actually a variety of muskmelon. True cantaloupes are smooth-skinned and rarely found in the United States.

  • Seedless watermelons actually contain undeveloped small white seeds, but like the seeds in cucumbers (a close relative), they’re completely edible.