You have a melon stored for a few days. That’s when you ask yourself: how long does the melon last and how do you know if it’s bad?
Or you are a first time buyer and not quite sure if you can leave this melon on the counter or if you should refrigerate it.
Either way, this article is for you. In it, we discuss:
- storage time and practices (and whether or not you need to refrigerate melon)
- how to know if your melon is ripe
- tell if yours is broken
If you want to learn more about any of the topics mentioned, keep reading.
How long does the melon last?
A whole melon will keep for 5 to 7 days at room temperature and two to three weeks in the refrigerator. If the fruit is not fully ripe, add an additional 5-10 days on the counter. Once the melon is cut, it lasts 4 to 5 days in the fridge.
While cantaloupe is one of the self-picked fruits (it begins to disconnect from the vine when ripe), it is not always harvested ripe.
Cantaloupes intended for export are often cut early from the vine so that they will stand fairly firm and survive shipping in good condition ((MSU)).
So if you’re buying cantaloupe in the winter or it’s an import, it may not be fully ripe and may require a few days on the counter to get its best quality.
To tell if your melon was picked ripe, check the end of the stem. If it has “dimples”, it has been harvested ripe. If the woody stem is still attached (and visible), the fruit has been cut from the vine.
Ok, now it would be useful to know if your melon has ripened yet, right?
Your melon is ripe and ready to eat if ((HORT)):
- the flower end (not the stem end) is slightly smooth
- the skin between the net changed from green to yellow
- the fruit has a strong sweet aroma
If at least one of the above is true, your melon is probably done. If neither is, let the fruit sit on the counter until ripe. It usually takes 5-10 days, depending on how long the sample has been in the supermarket.
A ripe melon is sweeter and smoother than a green one. If you’ve ever eaten one that lacked sweetness or seemed quite firm, it probably wasn’t ripe.
How to store melon
A green melon ripens best on the counter. Once it’s ripe, you can leave it out at room temperature or refrigerate it, depending on when you plan to eat it. A cut melon needs an airtight container or bag and should sit in the refrigerator.
If your melon isn’t ripe yet (read the previous section if you’re not sure), place it on the counter or in a fruit bowl until ripe. Eating it green is not dangerous, but its quality will not be as good.
Once the fruit is ripe, you have a decision to make.
Leaving it on the counter is fine if you know you are going to eat it in a couple of days. Also, since melons tend to be quite large, they don’t take up precious space in the fridge.
But if you don’t have any plans and assume you’ll make it “someday,” put it on the fridge.
It works the same with other melons, for example, honey drops or watermelon.
If you refrigerate a whole melon, place it in a sealed plastic bag. This will prevent the aroma of the fruit from flavoring other foods ((HORT)).
Once you’ve cut the fruit, seal it in an airtight bag (if you’ve halved or quartered it) or a plastic container (if you’ve diced it).
If you only halved or quartered the fruit, do not remove the seeds. They will help retain moisture for longer ((PUR)).
How to know if the melon is bad?
Discard melons that:
- Feel light, hollow or super soft. If the melon seems empty inside or the skin is soft, it has lost most of its water and is useless.
- You have large bruises or discolored areas. You can cut off a few small damaged areas, but if a quarter of the shell is brown, it’s time to go.
- Smells. If the aroma is not sweet and pleasant, but rather sour or spicy, throw it away.
- They are cut and stored for too long or have mold on them. If half of your cantaloupe sits in the fridge for a week, it’s got to go. Ditto if you can see signs of mold on the container or bag.
Some of the points above aren’t cut and dried, but are based on your judgment. For those, go with your gut.
If he tells you that the melon is just a little softer than normal and perfectly fine otherwise, feel free to eat it. But if the smell seems a bit off and you’d rather not eat that fruit, it’s okay to hit it.
Finally, if you notice the shell beginning to soften, the melon is overripe and the best time to do something about it is now. You can eat it the same day or dice it and refrigerate it, and consume it in a day or two maximum.