How to Ripen a Cantaloupe
For the best flavor, make sure that cantaloupes ripen on the vine. You can ripen this melon off the vine for a few extra days to further improve the color, texture, and juiciness of the fruit, though.
Ripening Cantaloupe On the Vine
Check the cantaloupe once the color changes.Never harvest a cantaloupe when the outer rind is still green, since these melons are undoubtedly unripe. Once the cantaloupe changes to a tan or yellow color, though, it is probably ripe.
- Do not harvest the cantaloupe based solely on color, though. While a green cantaloupe is definitely unripe, a yellow or tan cantaloupe may not be quite ripe yet.
- Even if the melon is not quite ripe, however, noting the color will give you an idea of whether or not the fruit is close to being ripe.
- You must allow the cantaloupe to mature completely on the vine. Unlike other fruits, melons do not develop any sugars once they are harvested, so the cantaloupe will not become any sweeter after you remove it from the vine. The color and texture may change afterward, but the taste will not.
Look for a crack around the stem.The melon is usually ready to harvest when it is "full slip." This means that there will be a small crack that completely encircles the stem where it is attached to the cantaloupe.
- If you aren't sure whether or not the crack is deep or complete enough, test it by applying pressure to the side of the stem.Place your thumb directly next to the stem and apply pressure to the side of the stem. You should only need to use a little force, and the stem should begin to separate easily.
Harvest the cantaloupe.As soon as the color is right and the crack around the stem is complete, the cantaloupe is ripe. It should be harvested right away.
- Do not wait too long to harvest a ripe cantaloupe. If the melon falls off the vine on its own, it has likely become overripe, and both the taste and texture will be distorted as a result.
Ripening Cantaloupe Off the Vine
Know what to expect.As noted earlier, the taste of the cantaloupe will not change when you ripen it off the vine since its flesh does not contain starches capable of converting to sugars. The texture, color, and juiciness of the fruit can improve, though, so this process is still beneficial if you have a freshly harvested mature melon or one that is only slightly unripe.
Place the melon in a brown paper bag.Use a brown paper bag that is large enough to fit the cantaloupe with a little extra room. The fruit should not be squeezed into the bag too tightly. Ideally, you should leave a little room for airflow inside the bag.
- Make sure that you close the top of the bag when you are ready to let the melon begin ripening.
- The closed paper bag traps the ethylene gas produced by the cantaloupe as it ripens. The production of ethylene gas increases in the presence of additional ethylene gas, so keeping the gas concentrated within the space of the bag speeds up the ripening process.
- You need to use a paper bag instead of a plastic one. Paper bags are porous, so carbon dioxide can escape and oxygen can enter. Without at least this much airflow, the cantaloupe can begin to ferment.
Consider placing a banana or apple in the bag.If you place a ripe banana or ripe apple in the bag, even more ethylene gas will be produced inside the space of the bag, and the ripening process will speed up even more.
- Bananas and apples produce notably high amounts of ethylene gas once they ripen, making them better options than most other fruits.
Leave the melon out at room temperature until ripe.Usually, the process will only take about two days, if not quicker.
- Make sure that the place you store the melon is neither excessively cold or excessively hot. You should also avoid areas that are heavy in moisture or particularly drafty.
- Check on the progress of the cantaloupe throughout the process to make sure that it has not ripened early.
Check the stem end.If you purchased a cantaloupe instead of harvesting one from your own garden, first verify that no part of the actual stem is on the melon. If it is, you should give up on that cantaloupe now, since it suggests that the melon was harvested before it was able to fully mature on the vine. A cantaloupe like that will never ripen.
- Also check the rind around the stem end of the cantaloupe. If there are any tears in the rind, those could also suggest that the fruit was picked too early.
- Make sure that the stem end is slightly indented since this indicates that it was easily plucked off the vine. If the stem end protrudes, that could be another sign of a premature harvest.
- You should also avoid cantaloupe when the stem end has notably soft, moist spots around it. That could suggest that the fruit is actually over-ripe.
Look at the netting on the skin.The rind should be covered with a thick, coarse netting that appears well-defined over the entire surface of the melon.
- That netting can, however, stand out more easily on some areas than it does in others. Do not expect it to be perfectly uniform throughout.
Note the color.If you did not harvest the fruit yourself and are growing it from a second party, check the color of the rind before you make a purchase. The rind should be tinted gold, yellow, or tan.
- A green-tinted rind indicates that the fruit is unripe.
Use your sense of touch.Gently press on the blossom end of the cantaloupe. When you do, it should yield slightly. If it feels hard, you should allow the melon to ripen at room temperature for another day or so.
- On the other hand, if the cantaloupe yields too much or feels mushy, the fruit is likely over-ripe.
- Similarly, you should pick up the melon as you check it over, as well. When ripe, the cantaloupe will feel heavy for its size.
Sniff the cantaloupe.Take a whiff of the fruit at its blossom end, rather than at the stem end. The "button" of the fruit should be just below your nose as you inhale, and you should be able to sense the familiar fragrance of a ripe cantaloupe when you breathe in.
- If you cannot smell anything yet, try ripening the cantaloupe for another half a day or so.
- If you are unfamiliar with the smell of a cantaloupe, simply sniff for a notably sweet scent.
- The blossom end is where the softening begins and the aroma first develops, so the scent will be strongest and easily noticed there.
QuestionCan I ripen a melon after it is cut?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerI regularly have experienced my canteloupe getting sweeter and riper after cutting. I wasn't expecting it, but, that's what happened. Last time, I had gone so far as to cube it as well.Thanks!
QuestionDoes an unripe cantaloupe have to be put in a brown paper bag?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNo, but putting it in a brown paper bag should speed up the ripening process. Just wait until it smells sweet and the ends can be pressed in a little, then it's ripe.Thanks!
QuestionA whole cantaloupe was left in a car in a hot garage overnight. Is it safe to eat it?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt's pretty hot outside when they are on the vine and they survive. Why would one night kill them? Cut it open, if it looks or smells differently then it should, don't eat it. If it looks and smells fine, it should be fine.Thanks!
QuestionCan I put salt or sugar on my cantaloupe to make it taste better?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, but make sure that you use natural pink salt instead of table salt as it brings out the natural sweetness of the cantaloupe. You can use brown sugar, cayenne or anything you enjoy. It is all up to your personal taste.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I keep raccoons out of my cantaloupes?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerMake a cylindrical cage for it using mesh wire fencing (like chicken wire) with half-inch openings in it. Tie it together with the metal wire it comes with. Make it big enough to allow for bigger growth.Thanks!
QuestionCan a cantaloupe ripen after it was cut?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes. Cantaloupe will ripen after being cut from the vine, but will not increase in sweetness.Thanks!
QuestionCan I ripen the cantaloupe by putting it in the microwave?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNo, the heat of the microwave will actually evaporate much of the juices and dry it out.Thanks!
QuestionIf an unripened cantaloupe has already been cut, is there any way to save it?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerPossibly. You may try the paper bag trick overnight, but do not expect a miracle.Thanks!
QuestionWill a cantaloupe ripen if it is in the refrigerator overnight?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNo, it will not ripen once it is in the refrigerator.Thanks!
Should I put a ripened cantaloupe in the refrigerator or leave it out?
Once cut, how can I get a cantaloupe to ripen?
Should I put a ripe cantaloupe in the refrigerator?
To quickly ripen a cantaloupe, place it in a large brown paper bag with a ripe apple or banana. Roll the top of the paper bag to close it and leave it out at room temperature for a few days, checking periodically to test the ripeness. To tell if your cantaloupe is ready to eat, gently press on the blossom end of the melon, which is the end without any stem remnants. If it yields just slightly, it’s ready to eat. You can also sniff the blossom end to see if it smells sweet and fruity yet—if it does, you can dig in!
- Ripe, cubed cantaloupe should be placed in an airtight container and refrigerated for one to two days.
- Once ripe, refrigerate an uncut cantaloupe for up to five days.
- Ripe, cut pieces of cantaloupe should be covered and refrigerated for up to three days. Leave the seeds intact since they prevent the flesh from drying out prematurely.
- Cantaloupe will not ripen after it has been cut open, so if you cut open your melon and discover that it is still unripe, there is nothing you can do to salvage it. As such, you must be very certain that the cantaloupe is ripe before cutting into it.
Things You'll Need
Brown paper bag
Ripe banana or apple
Sources and Citations
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