Kiwano Melon / Horned Melon is an exotic oblong fruit having thick orange skin covered with rigid spikes. The spikes or horns are prominent such that when placed on flat surface the Kiwano melon rests entirely on them. I’ve been seeing this funky looking fruit popping up at local grocery stores and got really curious about them. That they are stocked at the local stores indicated they were popular, so I decided to buy one and give it a try. To my inquisitive delight, the Kiwano melon is just as appealing on the inside as the outside!
Kiwano Melon – Where Is it From?
The Kiwano Melon, scientific name: Cucumis metuliferus, is in the cucumber and melon family. Indigenous to Africa, it can be grown in the warmer regions of the United States. Some other names for the fruit is: horned melon, African horned cucumber, kiwano, jelly melon, and blowfish fruit. The last one is my favorite because the Kiwano Melon does look like a blowfish. 🙂
Kiwano Melon – How to Eat It
Carefully wash the Kiwano melon with warm water and then pat dry. Using a large sharp knife, cut the fruit open lengthwise. Inside the Kiwano melon is a juicy lime-green gelatinous pulp with little white seeds. The aroma of the Kiwano melon isn’t a sweet, ripened tropical fruit smell like you would think, but more like a fresh cucumber with a hint of citrus.
To eat the Kiwano melon, simply scoop the pulp with a spoon and enjoy. How would I describe the taste and texture? The dominant taste is similar to a fresh cucumber–mild and slightly tart. The jelly-like pulp is surprisingly juicy and refreshing. In contrast to the slippery pulp, the white seeds are firm, having more fibrous texture than taste.
Depending on your fondness for the seeds, you can eat them or extract the pulp and spit out the seeds. The seeds are a bit crunchy and more like melon seeds than cucumber seeds. The seeds are not my favorite and really get in the way of enjoying the juicy fruit pulp.
I was expecting the Kiwano Melon to be ripened fruit sweet but it was surprisingly mild. It may be due to the selection available in my area or the time of the year. I didn’t want to let the fruit get too ripe as I started to see a soft brown spot on it.
Kiwano Melon – Where and How to Buy
I purchased a Kiwano melon at Von’s grocery store. Von’s has a small section for tropical fruits and the selection is always nice and fresh. An average ripe Kiwano melon weighs about 10-12 ounces. The fruit is expensive, priced at $5.99 each.
An unripe Kiwano melon is green and hard. The ripe fruit is bright orange and the rind is just slightly soft. My grocery store only sells the ripe, ready-to-eat fruit. When buying Kiwano melons, select fruit without any cuts or bruises on the skin. The spikes should also be intact and not broken-off or damaged.
If purchased ripe, eat the Kiwano melon within 1-2 days. If the fruit is green, allow to ripen at room temperature for 2-3 days or until the skin turns orange. Left to ripen for too long, the skin may burst open from the pressure.
Kiwano Melon – Health Benefits
The Kiwano melon is rich in vitamins C and A. It has antioxidants, touted to help skin stay youthful by reducing age spots and wrinkles. I can’t say for sure if this is true, but if so, it could be the latest natural extract appearing in our anti-aging skincare products. We’ve been using cucumbers to help with puffiness around our eyes. Perhaps a Kiwano melon face mask would brighten our skin and reduce wrinkles! 🙂
Kiwano melons are best enjoyed fresh in their natural state, as are most tropical fruits. The pulp or juice can also be extracted and added to drinks, smoothies and cocktails.
If you love tropical fruits and looking to try something novel, I definitely recommend giving the Kiwano melon a try. This beautiful and exotic fruit will intrigue and delight your taste buds. Let me know how you like it in the comments below.
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