Some people shy away from purchasing cantaloupe because it's difficult to tell a good melon from a bad one. With its tough, netted rind, ripeness is not readily apparent on a cantaloupe. However, the melons will continue to ripen after being picked. Their sugar does not change after harvest, so they don't get sweeter with age. However, they do become more desirable to eat because the flesh continues to soften and the melon becomes juicier, the University of California-Davis reports.
Store your cantaloupe at room temperature after harvesting it or purchasing it from the grocery store or a market, the Ohio State University Extension advises. This will encourage the fruit to soften and become more juicy.
Set the cantaloupe in a paper bag once you want to speed up the ripening process. Keep it at room temperature during this process.
Place ethylene-producing fruits such as an apple or banana in the paper bag with the cantaloupe to further speed up the ripening. Cantaloupes are not as responsive to ethylene to hurry the ripening process, but it will help somewhat, the University of California-Davis reports.
Check on the melon the next day to see whether it appears ripe. The best way to check the ripeness of a cantaloupe is by smelling it. A ripe cantaloupe will smell sweet and musty, the Ohio State University Extension advises. A strong smell is an indication that you may have allowed the fruit to become too ripe, so it's best to check the fruit frequently.
For home-grown cantaloupe, a sign the melons are ripe and ready for harvest is easy separation from the vine, the Texas A&M University AgriLife Extension reports. In addition to smelling the melon for ripeness, look for cantaloupes that appear to have an evenly distributed netting over their surface when purchasing the fruit, the Ohio State University recommends.