Growing your own fruits and vegetables is a rewarding and delicious experience. When growing things like watermelon, pumpkins, squash, and the humble cantaloupe, there is a pretty long ripening time. For cantaloupes, you’re looking at upwards of 3 months before your melon is ready to be picked. It would be beyond tragic to spend 9 weeks watching your melon develop only to pick it at the wrong time.
In this article, we’re going to walk you through how to tell when your cantaloupe is ripe, how to pick it, and how to store it so it doesn’t go bad.
How to tell if a cantaloupe is ripe
The color of your cantaloupe is the first sign that it is ripe and ready to pick. All during its growing season, your cantaloupe melon will have a green webbing or netting appearance on its rind. As the melon becomes ripe, that webbing will begin to turn tan. It will also begin to smell sweet and pleasant as it nears perfect ripeness.
The integrity of the stem of the cantaloupe melon is an important factor as well. When the melon is not ripe, the stem will be firmly attached to the top of the cantaloupe. As it begins to ripen, you’ll see the point where it connects with the melon begins to detach some at the edges. When fully ripe, the melon should very easily detach from the stem and vine. It should feel firm but not overly hard.
Once you reach the 90-day mark (or whenever your variety of cantaloupe is usually ready for harvest) you’ll want to check often to ensure it gets picked quickly. Melons left too long may begin to rot or attract pests, and that’s just as much of an unfortunate waste as picking a melon when it isn’t ripe yet.
How to pick a cantaloupe
There are no particularly special instructions for picking a cantaloupe. When your melons are ripe, they will easily detach from the stem and vine. If they don’t come off the vine easily, it probably isn’t ripe yet. If you’re beyond certain that they are ripe, you can take a pair of clean shears and snip the melon from the vine, but you should be absolutely certain that it is ripe before taking this measure.
Storing your melon
I can’t imagine a circumstance in which I’d pick a cantaloupe and not immediately set about chopping it up and eating it, but that’s just me! If you have a freshly picked cantaloupe but aren’t yet ready to eat it, knowing the right way to store it will help it last much longer and reduce food waste.
Cantaloupe like to be stored in humid conditions, 95 to 100% humidity if possible. The best way to achieve this is in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. The higher humidity levels in the crisper drawer will help keep the cantaloupe nice and moist. In these conditions, it should keep for between 5 and 15 days before it begins to rot and go bad.
Read Next: How To Pick The Perfect Watermelon