Top Tips on Knowing When a Honeydew Melon is Ripe
You’ve planted and tended your honeydew melon plants and now you are patiently waiting to harvest your delicious crop. Since noting when a honeydew melon is ripe and ready for harvesting can be a bit challenging, it’s important to know the specific signs of ripeness so you pick at its sweetest stage. Continue reading for all the top tips on when and how you can pick your honeydews knowing they are at their prime.
Know the Cultivar Your Planted
The first tip in knowing an approximate time you can expect to harvest your honeydews is listed on your seed packet. “Days to harvest” is the expected time it takes for your honeydews to reach the ripe stage after planting. If you live in a northern climate where the growing season is shorter, select a cultivar that ripens early.
Some popular honeydew cultivars and their expected harvest dates are listed below:
- ‘Dolce Nectar’ produces 6-pound fruits with pale green flesh that take about 90 days to harvest.
- ‘Honey Orange’ produces 3-pound fruits with orange flesh and is a good choice for northern gardens as it’s ready to harvest in about 75 days.
- ‘Honey White’ produces 3-pound fruits with white flesh and is another good choice for northern gardens as it’s ready to harvest in about 77 days.
- ‘Honey Blonde’ produces 3-pound fruits with orange flesh and is a good selection for northern gardens as it’s ready for harvest in about 71 days.
- ‘Honeydew Green’ produces 5-pound melons with green flesh and is an heirloom. Is ready for harvesting in about 100 to 120 days.
Expert Tip: Each honeydew vine produces about three to four melons.
Signs of Honeydew Ripeness & Harvesting
Unlike cantaloupes or muskmelons, honeydew melons do not “slip from the vine,” which is the process of ripe fruit naturally pulling away from the attached vine. Therefore, you need to pay attention to the fruit itself and know when it has reached it’s prime stage of ripeness. Ripe honeydew melons have the following characteristics:
- The outer skin of the honeydew melon achieves its full color.
- The blossom end of the honeydew is slightly soft to the touch.
- Ripe honeydews are well-shaped, uniform in appearance and almost round.
- When ripe, honeydew melons give off a sweet scent.
- If you feel the outer skin of a ripe honeydew you should feel slight wrinkling, which is hard to see with the naked eye.
If your honeydew has achieved all the signs of ripeness, it’s time to harvest. Since the melon doesn’t slip from the vine, you will have to remove it by snipping it off the vine. Use a clean sharp knife or pruning snips and cut the melon away from the plant.
Expert Tip: Immature honeydews picked too early will not continue to ripen. However, mature melons continue ripening for several days after harvesting, when stored at room temperature.
Storage & Use Tips
It’s easy to see why honeydews are also called Temptation Melons, due to their juicy and succulent, sweet taste. They are low in calories and cholesterol, making them a tasty and healthy addition eaten fresh, used in salads or drinks. For the top taste, allow the melon to chill in refrigerator before eating, but seal unused portions in plastic containers, as the melon will absorb odors.
Whole honeydew melons retain their best quality for up to 21 days after picking, when stored at 45°F (7.2°C). When kept at room temperature, the melon retains its quality for up to two weeks.