Have you ever bought a melon in January only to find that your expectations of savoring this delicious summer pleasure are instantly blunted by a perfect exterior, but a really tasteless interior? There is nothing better than a fresh-from-the-field melon. But, why is there such a difference?
While at the farmers' market, I chatted with a local man, who clearly knew his melons! He gave me several tips on how you can spot a melon, which is ripened to perfection.
1. Look for the yellow spot on the bottom.
This is called the field spot and it should look "creamy", like butter, not bright white. It's a sign that it is field ripened, rather than picked too early or shipped in from a long distance and not allowed to ripen fully.
2. Even, dull coloration.
Unlike your new car, you don't want a shiny melon. It's a sign that it's underripe. A melon that is slightly dull should be perfection. Additionally, the skin should not contain any splotches of unusual color or areas of discoloration or pitting.
3. It sounds "hollow" when you thump it.
A soft "plink" when you strike it with your index finger is a sign that it has not been allowed to become overly ripe. When the interior is too ripe, the flesh becomes more compact, resulting in a "dull thud" when strummed with your forefinger.
4. Sugar spots
A farmer friend told me to look for these years ago. They appear as black lines on the bottom of melons and are a sign that the plant was pollinated properly by lots of happy bees. A melon with black lines or even lines which appear to be weeping, are the sweetest specimens.
5. Should feel heavy.
The biggest is not always the best. Look for a symmetrical melon. Misshapen melons haven't ripened evenly. Also, pithy produce loses its firmness. As the melon begins to rot, it will lose weight, and feel lighter than others of comparable size.
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