Melons are a tricky bunch. Most of them - cantaloupes, watermelons - color up a bit on the outside as they ripen, or develop a more pronounced net, or even begin to smell slightly. All of these are iffy indicators of what lies inside, however. The best way to know when to harvest a melon is to wait for full slip. That's when the stem pops off the melon with just the slightest pressure. It's rather magical, the way the stem pops off in a little coin-shaped disk, leaving a blank star in in the skin of the melon. You won't ever see this star at the grocery store, because those melons have to be picked unripe, and then ripened with gas when it's shipping time. A melon that's been ripened in the field to full slip will only hold in cold storage for a week or two - so enjoy these babies while you can! Buy them locally and eat them quick!
The Miracle of the Full Slip
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