User avatar
Gary350
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 5103
Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2009 5:59 pm
Location: TN. 50 years of gardening experience.

WHEN to harvest Cantaloupe

I have not grown Cantaloupe in 30 years I don't remember how to know when is the best time to harvest for maximum flavor?

Our cantaloupe patch has 7 large melons 2 of them have been slowly turning yellow for 3 days but today 2 have turned completely yellow. When I worked at the watermelon patch we were told, "Roll the watermelon over if the bottom is yellow pick it, if its white roll it back." That does not work on cantaloupes the whole melon is yellow. I picked 1 melon, it is pretty good but it could be better. I think melons needs to grow longer but how much longer?

Image

Image

Image

Image

jeff84
Senior Member
Posts: 151
Joined: Thu Feb 16, 2017 3:38 am
Location: southwest indiana

Re: WHEN to harvest Cantaloupe

when the stem comes off easily. if you plan on eating it right away riper is better to a point. sap will ooze out around where the stem attaches, that happens right around optimal ripeness. all the skin between the webbing should be yellow. absolutely no green. don't pick anything that isn't at least 2 3rds yellow. they will ripen some after being picked. but like I said if eating right away wait until its completely yellow. and if the stem doesn't just slip off with one finger its not ready. I spent all of my teenage years working on a melon farm during the summers.

also when selecting musk melons to purchase the best method is to smell them right where the stem attached. you want the sweetest smelling one you can get.

the one in your pic looks ready, it could go another day maybe two. but so long as the stem comes off easily, it can always ripen a bit more on the counter top. also dry conditions tend to concentrate more sugars in the fruit, so don't water them unless they need it.

User avatar
Gary350
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 5103
Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2009 5:59 pm
Location: TN. 50 years of gardening experience.

Re: WHEN to harvest Cantaloupe

jeff84 wrote:when the stem comes off easily. if you plan on eating it right away riper is better to a point. sap will ooze out around where the stem attaches, that happens right around optimal ripeness. all the skin between the webbing should be yellow. absolutely no green. don't pick anything that isn't at least 2 3rds yellow. they will ripen some after being picked. but like I said if eating right away wait until its completely yellow. and if the stem doesn't just slip off with one finger its not ready. I spent all of my teenage years working on a melon farm during the summers.

also when selecting musk melons to purchase the best method is to smell them right where the stem attached. you want the sweetest smelling one you can get.

the one in your pic looks ready, it could go another day maybe two. but so long as the stem comes off easily, it can always ripen a bit more on the counter top. also dry conditions tend to concentrate more sugars in the fruit, so don't water them unless they need it.
We have had no rain in a week. It has been 95 to 97 every day. We had a big storm last night with about 1" of rain, today 2 melons suddenly turned yellow. The stem did not pull off easy and the melon is 99.8% yellow. Taste is not as sweet & not good flavor as melons I have had in the past. I think this melon is on the low end of ripe. I think the other melon in the garden needs to ripen another 1 or 2 days maybe longer. If cantaloupe get ripe in the kitchen then it should get sweeter. Bananas, pears, tomatoes, pineapples, plums, all get riper in the kitchen. I'm not sure the cantaloupe will get ripe in the refrigerator now that it has been cut? I think the real name in the rest of the world is musk melons but in America they call them cantaloupes.

jeff84
Senior Member
Posts: 151
Joined: Thu Feb 16, 2017 3:38 am
Location: southwest indiana

Re: WHEN to harvest Cantaloupe

when I worked on the farm they would pick them and the ones that weren't quite ripe were shipped, and the ones that were ripe were sold locally. the melons supposedly ripened during the 2 to 3 day trip in the hot semi trailer to what ever grocery store they were headed to. I think refrigeration would slow or stop the ripening process

User avatar
jal_ut
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 7480
Joined: Mon Jan 19, 2009 3:20 am
Location: Northern Utah Zone 5

Re: WHEN to harvest Cantaloupe

With your thumb give the stem of the melon a slight sideways push. If it pops off easily you have just picked a ripe melon.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

User avatar
Gary350
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 5103
Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2009 5:59 pm
Location: TN. 50 years of gardening experience.

Re: WHEN to harvest Cantaloupe

UP DATE. Cantaloupe has been in the refrigerator 24 hours it is much sweeter than yesterday and much better flavor, cool it does get riper on its own. We don't want to get out of bed 7 times in the middle of the night to pee, we will not eat it tonight. We will eat it for lunch tomorrow.

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 27907
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 11:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Re: WHEN to harvest Cantaloupe

Thanks for the update. Good to know it works even in the fridge.
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

User avatar
Gary350
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 5103
Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2009 5:59 pm
Location: TN. 50 years of gardening experience.

Re: WHEN to harvest Cantaloupe

UP DATE 2. Cantaloupe has been in the refrigerator 1 1/2 days it is amazing how much sweetness and much more flavor has increased in another 8 hours. I ate 1/3 of the melon for breakfast. We will see tomorrow morning if the melon has gotten, better, stayed the same or got worse.

I still have not harvested the other yellow melon in the garden I am waiting to see what I can learn from the first melon..

jeff84
Senior Member
Posts: 151
Joined: Thu Feb 16, 2017 3:38 am
Location: southwest indiana

Re: WHEN to harvest Cantaloupe

funny story, when I worked in the fields, there was an older gentleman who work with us (it was mostly kids with summer jobs) he would take all the over ripe practically rotten melons he could carry home. claimed they were beginning to ferment and you could get drunk eating them, and they actually tasted better than fresh ones.

User avatar
Gary350
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 5103
Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2009 5:59 pm
Location: TN. 50 years of gardening experience.

Re: WHEN to harvest Cantaloupe

UP DATE #3. Cantaloupe has been in the refrigerator 2 1/2 days it has not gotten much more sweeter or more flavor than it was yesterday. We ate more for breakfast and still have 1/3 of a melon left for tomorrow.

jeff84. I have eaten over ripe melons like you mentioned they do taste very sweet and often better than the ripe melons. My refrigerator melon will not ferment at 40 degrees. Next melon I will leave it on the counter top a few days.

I bought a pineapple a week ago and left it on the kitchen counter top for 7 days to get ripe. We cut it yesterday WOW it was good. It taste nothing like grocery store pineapple in a Can. Pineapples like this are always very sweet & tastes a little like white wine with a slight pineapple flavor. It was so good we ate the whole thing in about 10 minutes. I will buy another pineapple today.

I have been making wine for 50 years the best wine is from fruit that has a very strong flavor. Flowers & vegetables make terrible flavor wine with good alcohol. If all a person really cares about is getting drunk you can ferment a 5 lb bag of sugar and get vodka and water 21% alcohol. Blackberries, grapes, raspberries, currents, plums, peaches, all make very good wine, I like Red wine best. I wish there was a category for Wine Making on this forum. I made 187 bottles of wine 1 year 6 years ago, I have 5 gallons = 28 bottles in the making now. Soon I will have another 112 bottles making also. I have a lot of fun making wine we get together once a month with other wine makers to taste each others wine. We all bring snacks, cheese, olives, summer sausage, chips, lots of finger food. Lots of FUN. The same fruit that makes good wine also makes good, jelly, jam, pie, cobbler.
Last edited by Gary350 on Thu Jul 27, 2017 6:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

jeff84
Senior Member
Posts: 151
Joined: Thu Feb 16, 2017 3:38 am
Location: southwest indiana

Re: WHEN to harvest Cantaloupe

I have made a few small batches of wine before, it was really enjoyable. even with the store bought juice I used the wine actually came out pretty good. just as good as any 10-20 dollar bottle you can buy.

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 27907
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 11:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Re: WHEN to harvest Cantaloupe

Gary350 create some threads in the Recipes and Canning/Preserving forum. I would love to learn more. If there is enough interest, with member participation in comments and and threads, they could be separated to form a new category. :()
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

ButterflyLady29
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1031
Joined: Tue Oct 20, 2015 1:12 am
Location: central Ohio

Re: WHEN to harvest Cantaloupe

We tried to wait a day or two after a rain before picking melons if at all possible. Grandpa said the rain washed the flavor away.

In my garden the best melons get eaten by deer before they get fully ripe. Too bad the deer all vanish during hunting season.

Taiji
Greener Thumb
Posts: 886
Joined: Fri Oct 05, 2012 7:19 am
Location: back to cental az for now, elevation 5141, lat 34.57

Re: WHEN to harvest Cantaloupe

ButterflyLady29 wrote:
Too bad the deer all vanish during hunting season.
Yep, they ain't no dummies!

User avatar
Gary350
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 5103
Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2009 5:59 pm
Location: TN. 50 years of gardening experience.

Re: WHEN to harvest Cantaloupe

UPDATE #4

WOW this is good melon sweet as sugar and the best flavor I ever had. The key to good flavor melon surely is picking it at the correct time. This melon turned yellow about 5 or 6 days ago, I have been checking the stem every day to see if it would pull off easy. Yesterday evening about 7 pm I pushed the stem a little bit with my finger and it fell off. We had a flash flood 3 days ago with 4.4" of rain the melon grew another whole inch larger in diameter. It weighs 6 lbs 9 oz. and measures 8.187" in diameter. I never gave the melons any fertilizer of any kind not even wood ask or pellet lime. It gets full sun all day from 8:30 am until 6:20 pm now that the days are 1 hour shorter. I would have eaten it last night but the melon was 85 degrees from being outside in the sun all day, this morning it is 72 degrees from setting on the kitchen counter top all night. Melon is like fine wine best eaten at room temperature, cold temperature kills some of the good flavor of wine and melon too. Melon for breakfast, french toasts with real maple syrup and bacon will be ready in about 30 more minutes.

Image

Image

Image

NEXT years seeds.

Image

User avatar
Gary350
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 5103
Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2009 5:59 pm
Location: TN. 50 years of gardening experience.

Re: WHEN to harvest Cantaloupe

UPDATE #5

I learned something new, when cantaloupe gets cracks in the body around the stem end it will be very ripe soon. This one weighs 9 lbs. 10 ounces and 8 3/8" diameter.

Image

Image
Last edited by Gary350 on Wed Aug 02, 2017 9:13 pm, edited 3 times in total.

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 27907
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 11:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Re: WHEN to harvest Cantaloupe

I am FAR from melon expert - still trying to GROW them, really. But according to my experience with undersized ones, they do sometimes crack from drought-flood conditions when they are in fact not quite ripe.

I've had some success with those by wrapping with one or two layers of paper napkin or for larger fruits, cotton bandanna.

Typically, without wrapping, some stray fruitfly or ant or maybe even mold spores can get in the crack and they can spoil rapidly.

I didn't know you could ripen melons in the refrigerator, so I would wrap them and put them in a basket on the counter.

Did you mention what variety these are? I'm enjoying your enjoyment of them. :D

I believe only cantaloupe variety I'm growing this year is Honey Rock Melon? I also have Snow Leopard which I think is a kind of honeydew and Korean Melon which is supposed to be a prolific bright yellow oval-shaped smaller melons with light color along the grooves of the lobes.
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

Return to “Vegetable Gardening Forum”