A Santa Claus melon often looks like a small watermelon on the outside, but is more like a cantaloupe on the inside. These Christmas melons are normally ripe in December, so you should try to buy one during this time if possible. One way to determine how ripe the fruit is would be to check for melon firmness to make sure that it is neither too soft nor too hard. The melon color can also be an indicator of when this fruit is ripe and ready to be eaten. A good melon will have a somewhat sweet smell that is not overpowering.
This melon is normally ready to be picked in late November or early December each year, which is why it is called a Santa Claus melon. Should you find these Christmas melons in a supermarket at other times, the fruits are likely to be either under-ripe or over-ripe. If they are slightly under-ripe, they may be placed on a kitchen counter and allowed to ripen naturally. These melons are good keepers, often lasting past New Year's Day if stored in a refrigerator.
By taking your thumb and pressing in on either end of the Santa Claus melon, you can get an idea of the melon's firmness. A perfectly ripe melon will give slightly whenever you press on it, but you should not be able to press through the rind. If the rind does not give at all, it is not yet ripe, but if a slight indentation is left, the melon is ideal for eating.
Another way to determine which melon to buy is by looking at the melon's color. Like watermelons, a Santa Claus melon is dark green and yellow on the outside. Generally speaking, a ripe Santa Claus melon will have darker spots than one that is not yet ripe. Look for one with dark gold markings, as this is an indicator that the fruit is ready to be picked and eaten.
After cutting a Santa Claus melon open, you should remove the seeds from the center of the fruit. This is a good time to inspect the flesh to make sure it is neither too firm nor too soft. Once you have cut the melon open, you may notice a light aroma similar to that of a muskmelon. This should be a very light smell, as a strong odor could be an indication that the fruit is past its peak freshness.