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Choosing the best honeydew melon is a matter of determining the melon's ripeness. A fully ripe honeydew ranges from 6 to 10 inches (approximately 15 to 25 centimeters) in diameter. Due to the broadness of this range, size does not necessarily indicate how ripe the melon is. The consumer must take other factors into consideration, including smell, sound, color, and texture, in order to make the best possible selection.
A good honeydew melon is relatively spherical in shape, and consumers should avoid melons that are unevenly shaped or warped. The melon should also feel heavy. Larger honeydews can weigh around 5 pounds (approximately 2.3 kilograms). A melon that feels too light is not ripe.
One of the easiest ways to check a honeydew melon's ripeness is to examine its color. The inside flesh of a honeydew should be a bright, vibrant green, but most consumers do not have the opportunity to examine the interior color before purchasing. Instead, consumers should look for melons with an exterior rind that looks creamy yellow. Green-tinted rinds indicate that the melon is still unripe.
Some melons have a small, flat spot that appears lighter in color than the rest of the melon. This is not usually a cause for concern. On the contrary, this patch simply suggests that the honeydew ripened while on the vine. Ripe melons flatten under their own weight, and a pale spot often develops where the heavy, ripe melon sat in the soil.
Texture is another important factor to take into account. A ripe honeydew melon has a smooth, waxy surface. Melons should also be firm, but not rock-hard. A melon with no "give" is unripe, but a soft melon is overripe. The bottom end of a honeydew melon, opposite of the stem end, should feel softer than the rest of the melon, however.
Scent also reveals a lot about the ripeness of a honeydew. Ripe honeydew melons have a strong, sweet scent, and the melon with the strongest scent will likely taste sweetest. Consumers should smell the honeydew near the stem end, where the melon would have been attached to the vine, since the honeydew's scent will be strongest at that point.
There are two sound tests that help determine the ripeness of a honeydew melon. For the first, the consumer must knock on the side of the melon two or three times and listen closely to how the interior sounds. Ripe honeydews have a deep sound with little echo, while unripe honeydews will typically sound hollow.
A second sound test requires the consumer to gently shake the honeydew melon. The ripest honeydews usually make a slight rattling sound. Seeds detach themselves from the flesh once the melon starts ripening and becoming juicier, so a little rattling lets the consumer know that the melon is ripe without being overripe. Melons that are overripe and sour will sound soupy, and the consumer may hear a sloshing sound instead of rattling. Not every ripe melon will rattle, though, so this test alone cannot reveal whether or not the honeydew is ripe.