Sweet melon
pixsfile/iStock/Getty Images

When perfectly ripe, honeydew melons are sweet and juicy with a mild honey-like flavor. An under-ripe honeydew, however, is bland and lacks the juicy bite that a ripe melon has. Mature melons provide visual, tactile and olfactory cues that separate them from their under-ripe counterparts. Look for a honeydew that is symmetrical in appearance, emits a sweet-smelling fragrance from the stem end, and yields when pressure is applied to its opposite end.

Visual Cues

Ripe honeydew melons are both spherical and symmetrical. The rind should appear waxy with a creamy, uniform color that ranges from yellow to white. Avoid honeydews with any green coloring on the rind, as this indicates under-ripeness. Choose a melon that is heavy for its size and has no soft or discolored spots. The ends of the honeydew provide telltale signs of maturity. A fresh and sweet-smelling aroma present at the stem end indicates ripeness; the more aromatic the scent, the sweeter the melon. A gentle probe of the end opposite the stem yields slightly and feel soft and springy when it's ripe. Perfectly ripe honeydews have a subtle wrinkling on the rind’s surface that, while nearly indistinguishable by sight, can be detected by touch. Honeydews continue to ripen and increase in sweetness for a few days after they have been harvested, but they must have matured on the vine. A slightly sunken and well-callused stem end is indicative of a melon that has been vine-ripened.