– Selection and Safety
been around for a long time. In fact,
hieroglyphics dating back to 2400 B.C. show
that Egyptians enjoyed their juicy flavor!
There are two categories of melons—
muskmelon and watermelon. Muskmelons can
have netted skin (cantaloupe) or smooth skin
(honeydew). Watermelon also comes in
different varieties and sizes.
• From the outside
appearance, it is extremely difficult to
tell if a melon is ripe.
• Examine the
spot where the melon has been resting on the
ground. A yellow-white spot indicates
ripeness— white or pale green suggests
• Scratch the surface of the
rind with your thumbnail. If the outer layer
slips back with little resistance showing
the green-white under the rind, the
watermelon is ripe. Scratching unripe melons
only leaves a darker depressed line.
Choose a melon with a smooth surface, dull
sheen, and well-rounded ends.
experts recommend a “hollow” sound when
tapped indicates ripeness. Others feel that
“thumping” will not necessarily get you a
• Many people purchase cut
melons to judge ripeness from inside
appearance. The more red flesh and less
white rind, the riper the melon. Watermelons
like the Yellow Crimson have yellow-colored
flesh and have been described as “sweeter”
or more “honey” flavored than red flesh
• White seeds usually
indicate the melon was picked too early.
• Wrap melons in waxed paper
or in secured plastic bags before storing in
the refrigerator, as melon aroma readily
mingles with other foods.
can be stored uncut for 2–3 weeks. Covered,
cut melons will keep several days but must
• Soft spots do not
affect melon flavor, but decayed spots
should be cut out before refrigerating.
Wash with cool, running water before
slicing. The rind may be scrubbed with a
soft-bristled brush while rinsing.
Nutritionally, melons differ
depending on the type. They do, however,
have one thing in common--they are all 90%
or more water and they are very nutritious.
A six-ounce serving of cantaloupe has 100%
or more of the recommended amounts of both
vitamins A and C. A two-cup serving of
watermelon has more iron than any other
fruit serving and only has about 90
calories. It is also a good source of
lycopene. A six-ounce portion of
honeydew contains 410 milligrams of
are grown on the ground they are exposed to
pests and microorganisms from dirt. It is
very important to wash melons well before
cutting them. This applies to home grown or
store bought melons.
many people have gotten sick from eating
poorly washed melons. Many of the illnesses
have been caused by cantaloupes. One
outbreak, in April/May 2001, was due to
Salmonella poona. There were a total of 46
illnesses, including two deaths. In response
to the outbreaks, the Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) updated its guidelines
for safe melon practices. These guidelines
are given below.
Wash hands thoroughly with hot,
soapy water before and after:
handling fresh produce
handling raw meat, poultry, or seafood
using the bathroom
Wash the outer surface
of the melon thoroughly with cool tap water
to remove surface dirt. Scrub, if necessary,
with a clean produce brush.
equipment and utensils that will come in
contact with cut melons (cutting boards,
knives, etc.) thoroughly with hot soapy
water. Rinse, sanitize, and air-dry.
Sanitize kitchen sink frequently to prevent
a build up of microbes.
-Mix one teaspoon chlorine
bleach in one quart water.
mixture onto surface or submerge into
solution and let sit at least one minute.
-Rinse well with hot running water.
an added safety measure, counter tops can be
sanitized by using the above solution mix,
sanitizing sprays or wipes after they are
washed with soap and water.
Cutting and Preparing Melons:
At home, it
is acceptable to use your clean bare hands
to touch melons for your own consumption.
To protect yourself and your family, you can
use plastic gloves or appropriate utensils
to touch cut melons. Peel melon after
washing to reduce chance of contamination
from fruit surface.
Store cut melons in a
clean container in the refrigerator at a
temperature of 41° F or below. Label the
container with the date. Eat cut melons
within the next week. Discard after seven
days. Keep track of time when cut
melons are left without refrigeration. Cut
melons may stay at room temperature for four
hours or less. Uneaten cut melons must be
thrown away at the end of four hours.
NOTE: Uncut melons do not need to be
of Florida Extension
Ohio Cooperative extension
3 cups cubed, seeded watermelon,
cantaloupe, or honeydew
½ cup sugar
½ cup water
melon, about a half at a time, in a food
processor or blender. Whirl until smooth and
liquid. Pour into a medium-sized bowl and
stir in lemon juice. Mix sugar and gelatin
in a small saucepan; stir in water. Heat
slowly, stirring constantly until the
gelatin dissolves. Cool slightly; stir into
melon mixture. Pour into a 9 X 9 X 2 inch
cake pan. Freeze about 1½ hours until firm
around edges. Spoon into a large bowl; beat
until smooth. Return to pan and freeze until
Makes 4 servings.
1 small ripe
2 cups cold fat-free milk,
1/3 cup sugar
¼ cup light corn syrup
¼ teaspoon salt
Cut cantaloupe in
half. Discard seeds. Scoop out pulp. Place
cantaloupe and 1 cup milk in a blender.
Cover and process until smooth.
saucepan, combine sugar and remaining milk.
Sprinkle gelatin over top. Let stand 1
minute. Heat over low heat, stirring until
gelatin is completely dissolved. Stir in the
corn syrup, salt and pureed cantaloupe. Pour
into a 9 x 13 inch pan. Cover and freeze
until partially frozen, about 3 hours,
cantaloupe mixture in a blender. Cover and
process until smooth. Return to pan. Cover
and freeze about 1 hour. Serve. Yield: 6