06/26/2012 05:58 pm ET | Updated Aug 31, 2012

How To Buy A Melon

By Lynne Rossetto Kasper

Host, The Splendid Table®, American Public Media's national food show and co-author of The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper: Recipes, Stories and Opinions, and the new How to Eat Weekends. Ask questions and find Lynne, recipes, and station listings at or 800-537-5252.

Copyright 2012 Lynne Rossetto Kasper

Dear Lynne,

How do you buy a melon?

Gerry in Tacoma

Dear Gerry,

Trust your nose. If it smells quite sweet, it will be sweet. Check for ripeness by pressing the dime-sized round at the melon's end. Hard means it needs several days on the kitchen counter. If it has a bit of give, the melon should be ready. Never buy melons with soft spots, withered skins, musty aromas or no aroma at all. And if possible, buy organic ones for better flavor.

The food police side of my nature has to add that tricky bacteria and dirt can cling to the melon's skin. When you cut into it, your knife carries them onto the flesh of the fruit. So scrub melons with a vegetable brush and hot water running water before cutting into them. Always dry it well to avoid deterioration.