Honeydew melons are large melons with firm, green flesh. Tasting that first bite of a ripe honeydew melon can make the efforts to find the perfect melon worthwhile. Whether you grow your own honeydew melons in a home garden or you choose the best ones you can find from the produce section, picking a ripe honeydew melon need not confound you.
Examine the color of the honeydew melon rind. Choose a honeydew melon with a light yellow rind. Honeydew melons with white or greenish-white colored rinds are overripe.
Use the tips of your fingers to press gently on the sides of the honeydew melon. A honeydew melon that gives to the gentle pressure of your fingers is ripe.
Smell the rind of the honeydew melon. Ripe honeydew melons give off a discernible sweet scent when you smell them. If you do not smell anything, the honeydew melon is likely not ripe.
Choose honeydew melons that are evenly round in shape. Any yellow spots or small bumps are acceptable; these imperfections do not reduce the quality of the melon. Avoid melons with obvious bruising and cuts to the outer rinds.
Observe the honeydew melons growing on the vine each day in the late summer to assess each melon for ripeness. Allow the honeydews to mature fully on the vines for optimal flavor.
Examine the blossom end (opposite to the end attached to the vine) to see if it is soft. When the blossom end of the honeydew is soft and gives slightly when you press it, this indicates the honeydew is ripe.
Look at the rind of the honeydew melons. When honeydew melons are ripe, their rinds present a creamy yellow color.
Harvest honeydew melon you plan to use immediately by cutting the vine just above the melon. To harvest a honeydew melon you plan to store for up to one week, leave 1 inch of vine on the melon when cutting. This prevents the honeydew melon from decaying.
Use honeydew melons immediately or store them for up to one week in the refrigerator.
Smell the melon. You want to find a melon with a fresh odor, so lift the honeydew away from the other melons, and smell it to see if it has a strong, honeydew scent.
Knock on the center of the melon two or three times. If the melon sounds hollow, it can mean it is either not ripe, or it is over ripe. The hollow sound is the result of not enough moisture inside the melon. If the sound of the melon is deep, or it sounds thick, it means that the melon is full of juice and ripe.
Feel the weight of the melon. Honeydew melons that are heavier than others of the same size are also riper and contain more juice.
Look at the skin of the honeydew. The color of the honeydew should be a pale, yellowish green.
Feel around the outer flesh of the honeydew. It should be firm, with only a slight give to the touch, and without soft spots or dents.
Sap-sucking insects feed on the leaves of shrubs and trees. Sap is high in sugar and low in nitrogen. In order to get enough nitrogen, the insects consume too much liquid and sugar. The excess sugar is secreted as a waste product called honeydew. This excess sugar draws insects such as flies, ants, and bees.
Several varieties of insects produce honeydew. Common ones include: aphids, mealybugs, soft scales, leafhoppers, whiteflies and psyllids. Both immature and adult stages of these insects secrete honeydew. They excrete an amount of honeydew several times their body weight.
Honeybees and ants harvest honeydew from sap-feeding insects. Ants use honeydew as an important food source. As a result, ants protect sap-feeding insects from predators. The presence of ants may indicate an infestation of sap-feeding insects. Honeybees process honeydew into a dark, strong-tasting honey.
A black fungus grows on the surface of honeydew. The dark fungal strands looks as if the object is covered with a layer of soot thus the name Sooty Mold. This dark fungus interferes with photosynthesis thus stunting plant growth. Severe coverage can cause premature leaf drop
Control begins with elimination of the honeydew producing insects. Horticultural oils and insecticides can be used to kill the insects. Remove honeydew quickly. Detergent and water combined with a lot of scrubbing will remove honeydew and sooty mold. The longer honeydew is left on patio furniture or vehicles the harder it is to remove.
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