How to Cut a Melon

Picture of How to Cut a Melon
This technique makes cutting cantaloupe, honeydew, and all other types of melon a safe, quick, and easy job.  All you need is a nice sharp paring knife!  

In this Instructable I'm cutting an orange flesh melon in most of the pictures, though a cantaloupe also appears.  This technique is pretty much universal, though.  As a bonus, you don't really even need a cutting board to do it this way - perfect for picnics, and for avoiding invisible onion or garlic contamination on your cutting board.

Check out the video to see just how quick and easy this is:
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Step 1: Choose your melon

Picture of Choose your melon
Identifying a nice, ripe melon is easy.

First, make sure it's actually melon season in your area, as imported melons will almost certainly be sub-par.  Melons like hot weather, so melon season usually starts mid-summer, and continues through early fall, though times may vary in your region.

Second, make sure the melon smells good!  Give it a sniff: it should smell floral and melony, particularly at the end where the flower bud used to be (the spot opposite the stem end.)

Third, give it a light shake.  In cantaloupes and some types of honeydew, the seeds loosen up enough as the melons ripen that they'll rattle around a bit inside when the melon is ready to eat.

If the melon isn't quite at peak ripeness, leave it on the counter so it can ripen a bit more, then put it in the fridge to arrest further ripening.  (This is only going to help so much; a completely green melon shipped across the world will never truly ripen.)  Bonus: in hot weather, fridging the melons means they're nice and cold when you're ready to eat them.  The perfect summer snack!

Step 2: Cut in half

Picture of Cut in half
Grab a knife and cut your melon in half, making sure to cut through the stem area.

Be sure to wash your melon thoroughly before cutting, so you don't carry any surface bacteria into the edible melon flesh.  (Thanks to thematthatter for the reminder!)
corsair9772 years ago
Your instrucable is not safe. You NEVER hold an item in your hand and cut towards your hand. I had to take my ex-wife to the emergency room for doing this with a Mango once. She cut four fingers to the bone. Use a cutting board, that's what they are for.
There's a technique to cutting towards yourself. You never cut with your arms toward yourself, i.e, with two different hands. But, between the thumb and the forefinger on one hand you can rather safely cut towards yourself, because both fingers are in close communication. I mean, you'd only want to cut soft things still (nothing that could ever require much force), but I'm pretty sure it's how millions have pared potatoes for the last 500 years.
It's less a matter of communication between the limbs and more a matter of inertia and stored tension. A moving arm has a lot of inertia, a wide range of motion, and the muscles that run it are large and store a lot of tension when you are using them against resistance. Fingers have little inertia, a small range of motion, and little stored tension. Set yourself so that if something slips or gives, the inertia and stored tension will either exhaust itself or run out of range of motion before you hit anything you care about. Whether you're cutting toward or away from yourself.
I agree, it is less a matter of communication than inertia and tension in your muscles. Somehow in my mind "communication" was a better way to describe it, though less realistic. I do find it's slightly easier guide your knife along a potato with two fingers on the same hand, because each help you move the potato along the knife.
canida (author)  lperkins2 years ago

Using a sharp knife is a skill just like any other. You can actually exercise more precision and control cutting towards yourself; you just need to be aware of how much load you're placing on the knife.
Regardless of the existence of any relatively safe way to cut towards one's self, it's still much safer to cut away from yourself (or anyone around you, for that matter), as it minimizes the possibility that something will go wrong. These are melons we're talking about here, you don't need extra precision to cut one
hammer98762 years ago
I like that the fruit never comes in contact with a cutting board. Congratulations on being featured!
canida (author)  hammer98762 years ago
Yes! I've been burned too many times by invisible onion or garlic residue from the previous user of the cutting board, so prefer to keep my fruit off of them when at all possible.
cindredm canida2 years ago
Exactly, I've used this same method for just this reason.

I also do the same for pineapple- cut off both ends and then quarter lengthwise. Trim off the core along the length of each quarter and then cut in half again. Then remove the skin by running the knife along it- although sometimes I do this with the skin against a cutting board. And then just chopping into pieces against the skin, as in this instructible. Nothing worse than cutting up a whole melon or pineapple and then no one eats it b/c of the distinct taste of onion.
Azzurro2 years ago
I do it like this since ever. :) except that i use a spoon to remove seeds.
canida (author)  Azzurro2 years ago
Give it a try with your thumb! Aside from the additional hand rinse required, I bet you'll find it far more efficient.
Azzurro canida2 years ago
all right, will do :)
One safety note with melon is you need to wash the outside before cutting. (USDA recommends households just to use plain water and a brush) It is a low acid fruit with lots of sugar and available water. Salmonella grows on the outer rind and when you cut into it you spread Salmonella all over the fruit.

In your instructable you added lime juice, that will lower the pH and reduce some of the risk. Also eating it right after cutting will help too.

But if you cut it up and leave it in the fridge for a couple days then eat it you might be blowing chunks out of both ends. :(
" might be blowing chunks out of both ends..." rofl!!!