Liz Vaccariello from Prevention Magazine provides these tips:
1. GIVE A QUICK SNIFF
Honeydews especially should have an aroma like fragrant flowers. If they don't, the melons can be set on the counter for days to ripen.
2. GIVE THEM A SHAKE
When shaking a honeydew or cantaloupe, pay attention to see if the seeds are loose; if the seeds feel loose, it is ripe.
3. GIVE THEM A SQUEEZE
When a melon is squeezed on the side, it should not be hard. It should give a little, but not be too "squeezable".
4. GIVE THEM A QUICK THUMP
With watermelons, when thumped, if it sounds like a dull thud, it is probably a nice, juicy melon.
We were in Florida last year and we were behind a truck with a sign: "Watermelons $3.00". The truck pulled into a gas station and we followed. I asked the man if he had grown the melons and he said, "Yes, ma'am. I've been raising watermelons since I was 9 years old! " I said, "Please tell me how to tell if they're ripe."
I answered, "Well, I AM a watermelon connoisseur!" He said, "Well, since you're a great consumer, I'll give this to you for $2.50." [He thought that I had said "consumer" rather than "connoisseur"!]
I'm sorry to report that that yellow-belly wasn't worth the $2.50 and that in the future I would return to SNIFFING, SHAKING, SQUEEZING, and THUMPING!