So, you want to know how to tell if a honeydew melon is ripe, do you? Well, I don’t blame you. After all, there are few things better than a juicy honeydew, but an unripe one leaves a lot to be desired.
How to tell if a honeydew is ripe
Farmers have to be careful when harvesting honeydew melons from the vine as this particular fruit will not ripen if it is picked too early. An immature honeydew melon will remain hard, bland, and, frankly, inedible, so it’s vital they are picked once they’ve moved over to maturity.
The confusion between mature and immature melons comes about because mature honeydews can still be unripe. The difference is that a mature honeydew will begin to ripen if left to do its thing on your kitchen counter, whereas an immature one will never turn into the soft, luscious, juicy, tender fruit we all know and love.
A nice ripe honeydew melon will give off certain clues, and these are what you are going to be looking out for before you take your knife out of its block (find the best knife set for vegans by reading our reviews) and begin slicing open your delicious ball of goodness:
When a honeydew melon is ripe and ready to eat it will have a sweet scent which simply screams out EAT ME! The longer the melon is left to ripen, the stronger the fruit’s fragrance becomes.
Your melon should have next to no greenness once it has fully ripened, so keep an eye out for any green veins running across the rind (the outer skin of the fruit). A ripe honeydew will have lost its green tinge and moved over to a nice whitish yellow or golden hue.
Yes! Listen to your melons, people.
As you probably know, honeydew melons have an abundance of seeds inside them and these begin to work their way loose from the flesh as the melon ripens.
What has this got to do with your ears? Well, if you give a ripe melon a quick shake you’ll hear a faint rattling sound from within. Try it. It’s a cool trick.
Another audio clue can be found when you drum a melon with your fingers. The resulting sound should be somewhat of a deep, dull thud if your honeydew is ready to eat.
Time to get touchy. When working out how to tell if a honeydew is ripe, this is often the first thing you’ll hear people talk about, and yet many people get it wrong.
The key is to gently press the opposite end to where the stem was, commonly referred to as the blossom end in gardening circles. With a honeydew melon, ripe fruits will yield a little and then bounce straight back.
The “give” you’re after is not too hard, not too soft. Think of Goldilocks when you’re pressing!
Nicely ripened honeydews will also have a different feel to them than unripened melons. Run your fingers across the rind of a perfectly ripened fruit and you’ll feel fine ridges in the skin, whereas less ripe honeydews will be smoother.
Tips for buying honeydew melons
While all of the above is great when you have your melons at home and ready to go, what about when you are in the store and confronted with an almighty pile of melons. Which one do you pick?
Selecting a ripe honeydew melon is great if you’re going to eat it that day, but what about if you are planning on waiting a while? Well, as I’ve already mentioned, the key thing to avoid is an immature fruit. Providing the melon is mature, you can always ripen a honeydew melon at home.
You can do all of the above tips in store to select the ripest, juiciest melons, but there are some other things to look out for as well when you’re buying a honeydew from a store or down at your local farmers market:
A good honeydew melon will almost feel too heavy for its size when you pick it up. Why? Because of all that glorious juice held within, that’s why! Selecting a nice heavy honeydew will ensure you get a lip-smackingly juicy fruit.
A mature honeydew will appear round and symmetrical when you look at it, with no weird lumps and bumps. Again, it’s a good idea to avoid greener fruits too.
While the stem will likely have been removed from the fruit before it hit the supermarket shelves, looking at this part of the fruit can determine whether it was nicely matured on the vine or not.
What you are looking for is a subtle dip around where the stem once was. Any remnants of the stem should be well hardened, dry, and free from any signs of mold.
Wondering how to ripen honeydew melon after cutting?
Sit yourself down, I have some bad news for you.
If you’ve been a little eager and cut into your honeydew too early, there isn’t much you can do to ripen it, unfortunately. However, all is not completely lost.
Instead of wasting your unripe honeydew melon, try adding it to your daily green smoothie (No smoothie maker? Check out our best Ninja blender reviews to find yourself a good appliance). Unripe melons are hard and pretty tasteless, but your blender will whizz them up and the other ingredients will mask the blandness.
While it’s a poor substitute for a deliciously ripe honeydew, it’s a much better option than throwing it in the trash. (1)
However, if you’re melon is actually immature (rather than simply unripe) and therefore has no chance of ever ripening, take it back to the store and complain. Immature fruits do sometimes escape quality control, but the more we stand up for ourselves the greater the chance this will be improved upon.
That’s it! Now you should be able to easily tell the difference between an unripe and a ripe honeydew melon. All that remains now is to slice one up and get stuck in.
About The Author:
Lisa Williams is a committed vegan, passionate animal welfare advocate, and keen follower of too many v-friendly food blogs to mention. She started happyhappyvegan.com back in 2016 because she felt there was a need for more straightforward information on plant-based living.
Back then, too many sites seem to either concentrate solely on recipes or be too intimidating or inaccessible for the v-curious, and she wanted to change that. The landscape is certainly a whole lot different now!
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47 thoughts on “How To Tell If A Honeydew Melon Is Ripe (And What To Do If It’s Not)”
Thank you for the excellent explanation. Sincerely
It’s my pleasure, Barbara. Thank you for taking the time to comment!
Intresting read! One thing I have noted over the years is if you find one that is sticky to touch it is usally really good. Also cutting it up and putting in the fridge over night makes it sweeter and juicier the next day!
Nice! Thanks Virgil.
Hi Lisa, I am needing to know something i still havent heard anyone talk about & I THINK you mentioned a little of it but not sure. One of My honeydew melons is already turning whitish BUT it is also getting some kind of vein like wrinkles that LOOK LIKE CRACKS but are not cracks. Hope you understand how i am describing it. they go along the roundness, vertically, not horizontally mainly. but they look similiar to the vein-like ridges the Cantaloupe gets but not as much all around BUT its a honewdew for sure lol. I would like to know if that is normal or is that some kind of a disease or if its just part of ripeness that i some just dont talk about. Its already too big, looks like about 6 inch or more of circumference. If you can please inform me on this situation on my melon. Thank you.
Yes! Thank you so much. There is nothing better than a ripe, sweet, juicy honeydew. My absolute favorite. I can eat a large one in 2 days! And there is nothing worse than a flavorless one. So disappointing. Well I got one today that looks hopeful. Just trying to figure out if I want to cut it today or be patient and wait. It’s so hard to decide!!!
Well… former geologist, former mailman, now rookie gardener…
So much to examine. Soil conditions, etc. But I gave it a whirl. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. So, on to the honeydew melons. Had to pick one that I thought was largest, best colored rind, etc. It had a couple of splits along the outer skin. Oh…about 2″ long and maybe an eight wide. Decided to pick it before any critter decided to burrow into the ball. Got the knife out and looked inside to see what was going on. Well I think it is somewhere between immature and mature. Tasted ok. Not sweet, not sour. Texture was firm. Didn’t notice any overt fragrance. So, all in all, I would say the garden experiment shows promise. The other honeydews are nearing the same size and thriving. So, I determined the rind thickness was almost 3/16″ thick. I now think the critter threat was premature. I figured the melon may burst from expansion. The melon I picked was about 70% edible. What fun! Thanks for your article. Nicely done.
I just had to toss one so hopefully these tips will keep that from happening again.
No problem Lucy. Not sure just how bad the one you had to toss was, but if I find one has gone a little soft I usually throw it into a smoothie. I HATE throwing food away!
Thank you very much from The Bahamas now I will be a better shopper
My pleasure LaToya!
Ive heard that ONE of the things to look for when your purchasing a watermelon is the brown scarlike marks where bees have sought out the juice. Is this true for honeydew as well?
I’ve read the same thing about watermelons, but have never heard anything similar about honeydews. Not sure why that would be but I’d be interested to know if we’ve got any bee experts reading this.
happy happy vegan sounds like someone on the verge of a mental breakdown to be honest. Yes pressing the end of the melon is correct. it should give otherwise the melon is too hard and unripe. I live in Portugal where we eat a lot of melons in the summer. They are delicious when chilled right down! And this is the only technique I was ever told. That and the colour of the skin of course which is a clue. It should not be green but a dull yellowish colour.
The rattling of seeds?? never heard of it and it sounds most unlikely. The seeds are not dried out. They are stuck together in a big yellowish goo and I doubt very much they’ll rattle!
If you look around the general advice is to ripen them in a brown paper bag for a few days. Some people suggest putting in a few ripening apples also, or tomatoes.
My husband and I have a honeydew and the rind has started to turn from creamish to green, what does that mean? Is it bad?
It should be fine, just use your senses – smell, sight, taste – before wolfing it down!
Thank you for the tips! I just bought two at a liquidation store (that carries produce, go figure) for $1.00 and hoped they’re ripe or will ripen. You gave some key pointers to look out for. My mom always told me when it comes to watermelons, look for the bald spot where they had a chance to ripen on the vine and I was thinking this was the case with honeydew but didn’t see any of those. I think, however, that I’ll be OK since they both seem to fit the other criteria. although I’ll have to wait a few days. Best!
No problem Lisa, hope you enjoy them!
Thanks so much for these great tips! Believe it or not, I think this is the first honeydew I’ve purchased in my adult life. Idk why. These tips are super helpful!
I recently had water infused with honeydew, cantaloupe, cinnamon sticks. It was refreshingly fabulous. So. . . I’m going to give it a go. Wish me luck!
Thank you again!
That sounds delicious! I don’t think you need any luck, sounds like you’ve got it covered ? Enjoy and thanks for reading!
I was told to find a ripe honeydew, first rub the outside. If the outside proves resistant and waxy when pushing your finger over the outside in a rather hard manner, it is one test that proves a honeydew is ripe. Following rubbing the melon, smell it. If it smells like a honeydew, it should be ripe. Good Luck. Also pick a yellow one, If the melon is whitish, it is not ripe.
Pick a heavy yellow honeydew. Using your forefinger push against the outside firmly. If you feel resistance and the skin feels waxy, the honeydew is hopefully ripe, Then smell the melon. It it smells like a honeydew, it should be ripe. A whitish melon will not be ripe. I
Great tips. Thanks Dorothy!
So at age 71, I FINALLY Googled “how to tell if a honeydew melon is ripe” to learn what to look for, since tomorrow I’m having company & will be making a fresh fruit salad. I must say, you’ve done a brilliant job of giving me all the ins and outs. I’ve bought fewer than ten honeydews in my whole life because the ones I bought were invariably, tastelessly, under ripe! Thank you SOOO very much for your thorough (and humorous) information! Lovely way to begin a new year of “fruit-salading”!
Thank you for your kind words, you made me smile! I hope the info helps you find a better melon this time around.
Have a great day tomorrow; I’m sure your fruit salad will be well received.
If the melon has a yellow look to it, it is ripe and sweet. If there is any yellow, it will start at the stem, and it may continue to ripen after it is picked. DO NOT take any melon that has any green on it, if it is green, it will never ripen off the vine. The problem is that the farmers can’t wait for every melon to show a sign of ripening, so there will be some that are not good, and buyer beware.
The melon will ripen from the center going outward, so when you cut it, if the outside area is hard, do not cut into it. Use you sharp knife and cut from the softest section, which is the center around the seeds, going outward, stop when you feel the melon is hard, and difficult to cut, that part is not going to taste good. So you may be able to salvage enough of the melon to make yourself happy. So, to sum this up, if the melon is yellowish , it is ripe and ready to eat. if there is any yellow on it, it will continue to ripen to a point.
Thanks for commenting, Joseph.
Thank-you for taking the guess work out of having a Honey Dew melon.
I feel confident now that next time I put a knife into my melon. It will be the juiciest it can be.
My pleasure, Mary. Hope you’re right and you enjoy your next one!
Thanks for the tips. I checked at my usual grocery store (Raleys), and not a single honeydew melon had any smell whatsoever. Nor did they have the “dip” at the bellybutton side like cantaloupes have, so I skipped them. Too bad.
Better luck next time, Tyler!
Hi first time growing Honey Dew melon mine have some that are almost white, all of sudden they have become sticky are they OK or do I need to pick them
Apologies for not replying straight away…it’s been a little crazy here!
The stickiness is usually a good sign that they are ripe and ready for picking. In fact, this stickiness is where the name honeydew comes from! ? As for the color, that’s a little more unusual, as I’d expect them to be yellowing when they become ripe. How many have you got? Can you afford to lop one off and check?
I’ve watched people knocking on them, do they have a certain sound when ripe
Yes ? As mentioned in the post, a ripe honeydew will give off a deep, dull thud when drummed or tapped with the fingers.
I’ve always picked the ones with brown marks or spots on the skin. I was told a long time ago those are from the sugar content and shows a ripe melon. I’ve almost never been disappointed and have very rarely had a bad one when I stick to the ones with brown on the rind. Many people pass them by, little do they know……….:~)
Well, you’ve just let everyone know now Bob!
Hi. My honeydew is all lumpy and bumpy. Should I take it back to the store? Thanks!
The shape should be fairly uniform, but if you mean that the melon has thin veins that look a little like brown webbing across it, that’s a good sign! Many supermarket chains stock ultra smooth melons that aren’t up to much in the taste stakes, but those with these bumpy veins are giving you a good clue that the melon has a high sugar content. A certain amount of freckling is usually a good sign, too.
Hope this helps!
Still unclear is how to tell immature from mature (unripe or almost ripe) melon! Would be helpful to know.
Thanks for commenting.
Distinguishing between mature and immature honeydews is tough, even for experienced farmers, so it’s no surprise there’s a little confusion over telling the difference between the two and the main reason why I wrote about ripeness as opposed to maturity.
The issue, from a harvesting point of view, is the fact that no clear detachment is made between the fruit and the vine when maturity is reached, so shape and color are largely used when the time comes to pick and pack. Mature honeydews are uniform in appearance and almost spherical, with their color changing from green to a creamy yellow. So, the best way to tell mature from immature is to look for these traits.
Hope this helps!
Thank you for the interesting information.
Pleasure, Jerry. Glad you found it useful.
I have a honeydew melon for two weeks and it still isn’t ripe does this mean it will never ripen
Thanks! I struggle with getting the perfect melon and this last one was so cheap.. I figured it would ripen eventually… I think it’s a dud 🙁
Hello I have a honeydew that has a great smell, good size, very heavy, pulp is firm not mushy, but once I cut into it, the seeds in the pocket are a deep dark orange they’re falling off the stems that hold it together inside because they’re very mushy not much left for seeds to hang onto. Seeds looks a bit darker than normal too. Is this normal? Can I still eat it?
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