Cantaloupes are sweet, fragrant melons that have very tender and juicy pinkish-orange flesh when they are ripe. Eat them either alone, in a fruit salad or with a variety of other foods such as prosciutto and balsamic reduction. The key to enjoying a cantaloupe is eating one that is perfectly ripe. Unripe cantaloupes can be hard and have an almost bitter flavor. Do not buy a cantaloupe from the store or pick it from your garden if you are not convinced that it is ripe.
Pick up the cantaloupe and observe its weight in your hand. If it is heavy for its size, it is more likely to be ripe.
Examine the skin of the cantaloupe in question. You will see that it almost appears to have two layers; a raised, ridged, grayish-tan layer over a smoother layer of a different color. The windows of color between the ridges should be yellow over at least half of the cantaloupe. If these patches are green all over the fruit, the cantaloupe is unripe.
Smell the cantaloupe. It should not take much effort to get a strong whiff of a sweet aroma. If the cantaloupe does not have a scent, or if the scent does not smell like a perfect cantaloupe, the cantaloupe is not yet ripe.
Squeeze the cantaloupe gently. A perfectly ripe cantaloupe will give very slightly to firm pressure, especially at one end. An unripe cantaloupe will be completely hard and solid. Do not, however, select a cantaloupe that is overly soft or even squishy; these are signs of rot rather than of ripeness.
References and ResourcesiVillage GardenWeb: How Do You Know When a Melon Is Ripe?
North Texas e-News: How Can You Tell Cantaloupe Is Ripe?