Yes, once again I'm taking a break from showcasing the oddball and curious side of produce to offer, as my friend Karen said, "something useful, for a change." My only regret, of course, is that I can't offer this particular blog post in Odorama.
You might recall Odorama from the John Water's film Polyester. The movie was enhanced by Smell-o-Vision cards that audience members were supposed to sniff at various times in story, to give them a deeper understanding of the movie. (This being a John Waters movie, unlike later family-friendly copycats like Spy Kids, which used "Aromavision," the scents included dirty sneakers and airplane glue.)
A Smell-0-Vision card would be useful to demonstrate the most important criterion in selecting a good cantaloupe: aroma.
A sweet, ripe cantaloupe will have a very pleasant, tropical, floral scent. Your nose can help you weed out cantaloupes with rot and mold - distinctive and unpleasant smells.
In the absence of Odorama, I suggest that you get into the habit of smelling cantaloupes that were sweet and luscious, and committing the smell to memory. Likewise, remember the smell of melon mold and remember it when you next hold your cantaloupe auditions.
You can also find visual clues to the cantaloupe's taste.
First, avoid cantaloupes with signs of withering, moldy patches or rot.
Next, look at the cantaloupe's underlying color below its netting. A creamy or orange color is good; greenish casts, especially if they are dark green, suggest underripeness.
Finally, check out the melon's stem end. An "innie" indentation means that the cantaloupe was ripe enough at the time of harvest to be pulled off its vine.
If the melon still has a bit of stem attached, it means that it had to be cut off before it was fully ripened.
As always, a fruit that is heavy for its side is likely to be ripe and juicy.
Choose a cantaloupe that is heavy for its size and has a floral aroma, creamy color, and an innie stem end, and you're likely to nab a good one!
After dealing with the mystery of the plum, my status as the Produce Savant needs this reassurance.