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.
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.
References and ResourcesThe Deluxe Food Lover’s Companion; Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst
The Joy of Cooking; Irma Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker and Ethan Becker