How to Know When to Pick a Honeydew Melon

Honeydew melon is the taste of summer all wrapped up in a convenient package. While they’re available in stores most of the summer, they’re not always picked at the peak of ripeness. Honeydews get softer when they’re off the vine but they don’t get sweeter. Knowing when to pick or harvest a honeydew melon means you’ll get it at its very best.

The seed package will have a days-to-harvest range. Use this as a guide not the exact date to pick the honeydew melon. Cool weather, not enough rain or cloudy days may delay the harvest beyond the package guide. Honeydew melons require a long growing season of warm weather. If that’s not possible, plant the seeds inside to give them a head start and transplant in the garden when the weather is warm.

One tip in knowing when to harvest is the scent of the fruit. The melon will smell sweet with a faint odor of melon. It’s not as strong as ripe cantaloupe but it’s much stronger than ripe watermelon which has hardly any scent at all. In the grocery store it’s easy to pick up a melon and sniff. In the garden you’ll have to get down to ground level.

Feel the surface of the melon because that’s another way to tell if is ripe. A very fine netting should be apparent to your fingers but won’t be visible to the eye. If the melon is beige with green veining it’s not ready yet. The melon should feel heavy for its size. Pick it up gently so you don’t yank it off the vine. The area near the blossom end should be softened and the stem end a bit springy. The melon should be pale yellow with patches of lemon yellow.

If the melon is in the garden the sure way to determine if it’s ripe is to taste it. This works if you have a number of melons growing. Wasting one or two won’t be a problem. If the first one isn’t ready yet the others will mature in a few days to a week. If you only have a few honeydew melons, sacrificing one may not be reasonable. Use other methods.

Many gardeners think that if a melon, including honeydew melons, slips off the vine without much of a struggle, that it’s ripe. Unfortunately over ripe melons do the same thing. Some melons like watermelon and Persian melons don’t slip off at all.

The Author:

Dee Power is the author of several nonfiction books.

2 thoughts on “How to Know When to Pick a Honeydew Melon

  1. I have never managed to get a really riper honeydew from the grocers. I have put them into a brown bag for days but still not ripe. I did not purchase again for years until last week. I cut it open today and it’s not edible for my tummy, again. It’s way too green inside. Could someone please send me a picture of an uncut & a cut honeydew that is ripe ???
    Thank you very much.


    1. I’m sorry to hear about your struggle with picking ripe honeydew melons. It can be tricky sometimes, but there are a few tips that might help you in selecting a ripe melon. Here’s what you can do:

      1. Look for a creamy yellow or golden color on the outer skin of the honeydew. If it’s still green, it likely needs more time to ripen.
      2. Check the stem end of the melon. If it’s slightly soft and gives a bit when pressed, it’s usually a sign that the melon is ripe.
      3. Give the melon a gentle press with your thumb. If it yields slightly but still feels firm, it’s likely ripe. Avoid melons that are too mushy or soft, as they may be overripe.
      4. Smell the melon. Ripe honeydew melons have a sweet, fragrant aroma. If it smells strong or unpleasant, it is best to leave it behind.

      Unfortunately, we are unable to share pictures directly in response to comments. However, if you search for “ripe honeydew melon” on a search engine or image hosting website, you will find several examples of what a ripe honeydew looks like both on the inside and when cut open.

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