Last time we talked about knowing if pineapples, strawberries, and avocados were ripe. Today, we’ll tackle cantaloupe and watermelon. So, let’s get started:
CANTALOUPE: First of all, a cantaloupe can ripen off the vine, but the longer it stays on the vine, the sweeter it seems. I love getting them from local farmers, so they are fresh from the vine. If the skin has a greenish tinge, it is not ripe. The skin should be white or off white. Now, look at the end where the stem was attached. If it’s green, it’s probably not ready. If your melon is not ripe, do not refrigerate it. Leave it out in the light and warmth. When you want a snack, press the edges around the stem dimple. If it’s soft, pull it up and sniff it. No, seriously, sniff it. If it’s ready to be cut into, it will smell like a cantaloupe.
Extraneous Information: Once you cut into it, slicing it in half, scoop out the seeds and membranes with a spoon. You can eat it straight from the skin with a spoon if you want. You keep all the juice that way. My son and I split a cantaloupe. We each get half and attack it with a spoon. Yum! You can also slice it, skins attached and let the kids eat it that way, or run a knife along the inside edge of the skin, removing all the green and enjoy the slices like that. You can also take the slices and cut them into cubes. Works really well in fruit salad or on fruit trays that way. NOTE: if the skin begins to get dimpled, cut immediately. If you let it go much past that point, the fruit will have bad spots and the consistency of mush!
WATERMELON: Don’t worry if there is a large, white patch on the sides. It just means that side was sitting in the soil and not exposed to the sun. Pick your watermelon. Get in close. Now, thump it. You heard that right. Remember the thump on the head from an older brother? Same idea. If you can’t manage a good thump, a light knock with your knuckles will work, it’s just not as fun. If it sounds almost hollow, your watermelon is ripe. If it sounds more like a *thud,* wait a few days and try again. It will not ripen well in the refrigerator. When you hear the hollow sound (remember, water is a sound conductor. Since watermelon is 80% water, it will not sound flat), crack it open with a large, strong, sharp knife and proceed to slice, dice, or melon-ball at will. *Refrigerate after opening!*
Extraneous Information: Watermelon seeds were made for spitting. OK. Total disclosure: I never quite learned to spit them beyond my chin. Apparently, it’s a skill, like skipping rocks. I do know how to squeeze them between my fingers and send the slippery little buggars flying. It’s great for the 4th of July after picnic entertainment! Don’t worry about the lawn. If they actually sprout after the fourth, the first lawn mower pass will kill the plant. Oh, and in case you were wondering, there has never been a case where a swallowed watermelon seed actually sprouted in a person’s stomach and grew up their throat, in spite of what the next door neighbor’s kid told you when you were six. Another idea to share: you can pickle the leftover rinds. It’s a very refreshing snack in the heat of summer! And a final watermelon thought: you might want to pick up the watermelon a few days before the fourth, just to make sure it’s at it’s peak of sweetness when you need it!
I hope this second post was helpful, too. I do ask if you have fruit knowledge which I have not shared, please leave me a comment. I love to learn. I hope this community can learn to grow and learn from each other.