Melons are among the most loved fruits in almost every home. Their ability to quench thirst with their sweet juicy taste is incredibly refreshing.
But your ability to enjoy a melon is limited to timing. There’s little better than the taste of perfectly ripe Honeydew melon. But, at the same time, an unripe honeydew melon doesn’t match up.
Whether you plant a few honeydew melon seeds in the garden or purchase these delicious fruits, knowing when they’re ripe makes all the difference.
Have you ever been in a store intending to buy honeydew and with no idea how to tell if they’re ripe?
Your struggle is over because you’ll learn here how to tell if honeydew is ripe.
First Things First
Before continuing, there are several things you ought to know about how to tell if honeydew is ripe.
If you’re a new gardener of honeydew melons, you should know that, unlike other fruits, honeydew doesn’t continue to ripen once you harvest them. Therefore, picking an unripe honeydew from your garden is utterly disappointing and is a complete waste unless ripe because it is unpalatable.
The first tip is only to pick the ripe honeydew from the garden once it is grown. Fortunately, identifying a ripe honeydew isn’t that complicated.
There are apparent visible clues to look for before you cut the honeydew from its stem.
Pick the best knife for the job once your honeydews are ripe. A good sniff and checking the outer rind provides excellent clues as to its status.
Enough of that. Let’s go through all the signs you should check to for how to tell if honeydew is ripe is not.
The first and most visible sign to look for in honeydew is the color. While honeydew melons have a green flesh, their first sign of ripeness is a color change. The honeydew melon changes its color from green to a creamy yellow when ripe.
A fully ripe honeydew has no green skin, so you should check the green veins across the rind to observe the color change.
Other varieties of honeydew have a golden hue once they are fully ripe. Honeydew melons with this golden hue are as juicy and tasty as those with creamy yellow skins.
Color change through simple checks of your honeydew melon is just part of ensuring that it’s fully ripe, but there are other signs for how to tell if honeydew is ripe. Keep reading to learn what else to look for in ripe honeydew melons.
While the shape provides excellent clues about how to tell if honeydew is ripe, it’s not the primary consideration.
Honeydew has a circular shape once it matures. Both an unripe and ripe honeydew have the same shape, so it is nigh impossible to tell whether the fruit is ripe by looking at its form.
A fully mature, ripe honeydew has a slightly more symmetrical shape compared to an unripe one.
It doesn’t have any uneven bumps or lumps on the rind, but the difference isn’t that obvious, so you need to have some experience when inspecting the honeydew for ripeness.
I like to call it the “eat me now!” smell. But where do you smell?
People think they can smell anywhere when they want to know how to tell if honeydew is ripe. Unfortunately, this hit-and-miss action does not help.
The spot to smell makes all the difference. There’s a springy round area at the bottom of the honeydew, which is where you should do the smell test.
When referring to the bottom of the melon, it means the opposite end of where the melon is attached to the vine. This end is soft and spongy. Take a good in-breath at this spot because this is how to tell if the honeydew is ripe or not, and a good old sniff says it all.
When the honeydew is fully ripe, it has that rich, heady, fruity “eat me” kinda smell. This aroma is like the actual taste of honeydew.
One more thing is when you should smell the honeydew?
Well, you won’t experience the sweet aroma smell all the time. From personal experience, the best time to smell honeydew is on a sunny, warm day. The warmth on a sunny day enhances the fruity smell of honeydew.
Once you identify a ripe honeydew, you can use a pair of pruning shears to cut it from the vine.
Don’t cut out the honeydew if you can’t smell anything at the springy bottom spot.
Sometimes you can also smell mildew on the melon, and this is the smell of unripe honeydew. If it’s not ready to eat, it has that mildew-type of aroma, and it is not ready to harvest.
Sound Of A Ripe Honeydew
They say walls have ears, and melons speak when you tap on their walls! Listen to your melon. Listen closely to that sound. What does it say?
You can’t know for sure if you’ve no experience.
Honeydew melons have a lot of seeds inside their juicy fruity flesh. As the melon ripens, the seeds start loosening themselves from the flesh.
So what do loose seeds have to do with a ripe honeydew?
The answer is simple. They give you an outright clue on how to tell if honeydew is ripe.
Give the honeydew a GENTLE shake, and you’ll hear some faint sounds of seeds rattling inside. The loosened seeds make quiet sounds when shaken because they are no longer attached to the flesh of the honeydew. However, this sound is indistinct, so you must listen keenly when gently shaking the melon.
Another sound trick is when you use your fingers to drum the honeydew gently. Ripe honeydew melon has a deep and dull thud sound when it is ready to eat. This lightly thudding sound is distinct from an unripe honeydew.
“Under Finger” Feeling
Get touchy with the honeydew. Many people often mention this trick but end up getting it wrong most of the time. That under-finger feeling says a lot about how to tell if honeydew is ripe and ready to eat.
There are two tips for the “under finger” feeling. The first sign to look for is a bouncing-back feeling from the honeydew.
The trick is to press the blossom end of the honeydew melon gently. A blossom end is the bottom part of the honeydew (directly opposite its attachment to the vine). For a ripe fruit, when you gently press it, it has a soft, bouncy texture.
Don’t press it too hard nor too soft. Just a gentle press with your forefinger will be enough to check if this end is slightly spongy enough to bounce back.
Another tip is running your fingers across the honeydew’s rind. There’s a distinct feeling between a ripe and unripe honeydew when you run your fingers over the outer shell of the melon.
A fully ripe honeydew has a smoother feeling, while an unripe one has some fine ridges on the rind. Run your fingers across the honeydew’s skin continuously to ensure that you get the smooth feeling throughout.
Still interested to learn more?
Well, there are a few tricks I’ve bagged over the years that are worth sharing when you need to know how to tell if honeydew is ripe or should be left to mature.
If you’re reading this article and realize that you’ve just harvested unripe honeydews from your garden, you’re in luck.
Tips for ripening honeydew
While honeydew doesn’t continue to ripen once harvested, it doesn’t mean all hope is lost. There are a few tricks you can use to help make the honeydew a little juicier and softer.
The first trick is using the natural ethylene produced by the honeydew. It’s simple and practiced by many people out there.
Get several sheets of newspaper (new or old, it doesn’t matter). Use the newspaper to wrap the honeydew nicely. The secret is to hold the natural ethylene gas that the melon produces close to its skin to soften it further.
Wrapping the honeydew in a newspaper works well if you’re in a hurry for it to ripen. Simply leaving your honeydew in a basket full of other fruits softens it further.
Avoid refrigerating an unripe honeydew. Refrigeration only takes away the softness of the fruit, and it is unlikely to ripen.
Tips when buying the best honeydew
What should you do when you’re in the grocery store faced with a pile of honeydew melons? How do you know how to tell if the honeydew is ripe?
Using all the tips here will help you to a small extent, but there are more ways for how to tell if honeydew is ripe so you don’t waste your money.
1. Consider the weight
Heavy is good and sweet!
A heavy honeydew is better than a lighter one primarily due to the accumulation of juices inside. A heavy honeydew combined with all other tricks guarantees you a juicy fruit at home.
When you pick a honeydew, check the stem end to determine the level of ripening.
While most retailers remove this part, a small tip always protrudes. Check the stem end and ensure that the tip is hard, dry, and has zero molds.
That’s about it on how to tell if honeydew is ripe. You can now enjoy your juicy lip-smacking honeydew to quench your thirst.
All these tricks work best if you’re keen enough to identify minor signs. Otherwise, you may end up having an unripe honeydew at home, which is disappointing.
There are situations where the honeydew is completely unripe and has no hopes at all maturing after harvesting.
If you’re unfortunate to have bought unripe melons, then follow the saying of “using lemons to make lemonade.”
Unripe honeydew has health benefits if you use a good blender to make your favorite smoothie.
Tyler C Rich is the founder and chief editor at TopsyGardening.com. An experienced gardener and a professionally trained agriculture development expert, Rich has worked in the gardening and landscaping industry for more than a few decades. Although he has retired, his spark for developing the best urban and indoor gardens has not faded a bit. He uses TopsyGardening.com as a platform to come across enthusiastic gardeners and share the unique insights he has acquired through years of experience. Rich is interested in aquaponics and technology apart from conventional gardening techniques.