Choosing a effectively ripened, locally grown melon is basic in the summer, but how perform you recognize ripeness in the dead that winter?

photo 1. Winter watermelon mirroring the yellow ground point out indicating a mature, ready-to-eat fruit. Photo by Ron Goldy, Extension.

A sure authorize of summer in Michigan is the variety of locally grown, vine-ripened melons obtainable at farm yard stands and farmers markets. However, with modern-day transportation, watermelon, cantaloupe and other melons are available year around. So just how does a buyer in the dead that winter determine a flavorful melon?

It is necessary to know that no all melons act the same once it involves ripening. Some, like watermelon, do not proceed to ripen when harvested. Therefore, flavor will not improve nor will they become sweeter—t is what the is in ~ harvest. However, cantaloupe and similar fruit will proceed to ripen after ~ harvest. Once into the ripening process, fruit will gain sugar, flavor will certainly improve and also flesh soften. For the consumer, this way watermelon and comparable fruit deserve to be consumed as quickly as you carry it home no issue what time the the year the is. However, cantaloupe and similar melons bought in winter more than likely need come be held at room temperature because that a few days or more to allow it come improve.

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The most reliable way to identify if a watermelon is tires is to watch it while it is quiet on the plant. Because that is not feasible in winter, consumers have to use the following step and also that is looking at the “ground spot” (Photo 1). The ground point out is whereby fruit was in contact with the soil. It is straightforward to recognize because it will not have actually the same stripes and also color of the rest of the fruit—it will have a much more solid color. A maturation watermelon will have actually a yellow ground clues (Photo 1). If it is light yellow or even white, make one more selection.

Photo 2. Summer cantaloupe showing typical golden color and the “dimpled” stem finish where the stem has actually pulled cost-free from the fruit. CC0 publicly Domain.

Honeydew melons space the hardest to recognize when they are mature. Gift light colored, the ground spot technique does not work and also they perform not “self-pick” favor cantaloupe. However, prefer cantaloupe, they proceed to ripen off the plant. Come eat a honeydew beforehand is not a poor experience, however you do not desire to wait so long that that goes bad. The fruit go not administer the signals watermelon and also cantaloupe do. Because that honeydew, you have to rely ~ above the grower picking it at a great time no issue the season since once you reduced it open you have to eat the or refrigerate it.

Left top top the plant, cantaloupe fruit start to disconnect as soon as mature and also the fruit will basically pick itself and also be all set to eat best away. Summer melons have a noticeable dimple in ~ the stem end and generally have actually a golden color (Photo 2). Due to the fact that ripe cantaloupe are fairly soft, they need to be harvested in winter production locations when castle are much less than completely mature for this reason they are able to survive the transport process in good shape. Instead of enabling them to self-pick, castle are cut from the plant.

Photo 3. Winter cantaloupe v the stem quiet attached. Look for cantaloupe where the stem finish has begun to cracked (arrow), hence indicating the melon is pull close maturity yet will boost in smell if allowed to sit in ~ room temperature for a few days. Photo by Ron Goldy, Extension.

For winter-grown melons, the stem attachment is still noticeable on the fruit—no dimple (Photo 3). As the fruit matures, girlfriend will be able to see the abscission zone kind as a slight crack that gets bigger over time and also will eventually form a circle roughly the stem (Photo 3). When choosing a winter cantaloupe, look for one where the staying stem has started to crack and also break far from the melon. As soon as you have the right to see that crack beginning to form, that means the fruit to be harvested mature sufficient that the ripening process will continue. It probably still requirements to sit in ~ room temperature because that a couple of days as it continues to mature. Be patient and also let that happen. It will not acquire the golden color that a summer-grown melon, so perform not suppose it come be quite the same, yet neither is the weather outside.

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