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Old 07-22-2006, 01:49 PM   #1
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How do you tell when a melon is ripe?

Looking at a couple of women selecting a melon at the supermarket today, I was thinking how quintessentially French this was.
The women expertly picked up several melons to get the heft, felt them, and then brought the them up to their nose where they sniffed knowingly.
How in the world can they distinguish between underripe and ripe, ripe and overripe?

I guess it must be genetic. I'm certainly pretty clumsy when it comes to melon selecting!

I might add that I am speaking of small, sweet, and juicy melons that have very little to do with bowling-ball size cantaloups.
At this time of yea I cut them in half and fill the cavity with Sauternes. Delicious, especially if accompanied by wafer-thin Parma ham!

Best regards,
Alex R.

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Old 07-22-2006, 01:59 PM   #2
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Alex, smell and feel is the only way to get a nice ripe melon - any size. How do you select yours??
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Old 07-22-2006, 02:00 PM   #3
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You can smell the fruit aroma especially if they are not cold. Smell the skin near the stem end. This doesn't work for watermelon, of course, but for other kinds of melon and fruit. If it smells a LOT, it may need to be eaten today. Pears are a fruit that ripen from the inside out--smell the skin. At the moment it has ANY aroma, use it.
Strawberries are a fruit that does not continue to ripen off the plant--what you see is what it will ever be, except for getting rotten.
The problem I have had in French/European markets is that they don't want you to handle the merchandise. I had the single worst apricot of my life that was chosen by a Swiss grocer who insisted on choosing MY fruit for ME.
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Old 07-22-2006, 02:32 PM   #4
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Rule 1: If they taste sweet and have a lot of flavor, they're ripe.

Rule 2: Always let your wife pick out the fruit so you can complain if it's not ripe.
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Old 07-22-2006, 03:29 PM   #5
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Another good trick, in addition to smelling the stem end (it should smell sweet) and hefting the melon (it should feel heavy for its size), you should look for a small spot of discoloration. (I saw this on Alton Brown's show)

The spot of discoloration is where the melon rested on the ground and is proof that the melon ripened there (presumably attached to the vine), rather than "ripening" in a truck after being plucked.

You should catch that episode of Good Eats. It dispels some of the myths of testing cantaloupe and other melons (like honeydew) for ripeness...although Alton says you can't tell by the smell at the stem end. I don't really agree with that!
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Old 07-22-2006, 04:24 PM   #6
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Many years ago used to work in supermarkets, after school and in the summer.

When I was in the fruit and veggie area would be asked how ripe a 'lope' was.

The manager of that area could always tell by feeling the area where the stem was and smelling it.

Learned how to do it and it is very simple.

If it smells very ripe, it is. And that area should be soft.

If not, hold it for a day or two.

Always remember those days, it was a lot of fun.
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