Though the horned melon is a weird-looking fruit, it has a tantalizing taste. The flesh of the horned melon tastes like cucumber or zucchini. Its flavor is often described as a combination of lime, banana, kiwi, and cucumber. The horned melon is mainly used in salads or as fruit snacks.
A cup of horned melon pulp contains 200 g water, 17.6 g carbohydrate, 123 mg potassium, 5.3 mg vitamin C, and 143 mg vitamin A. It has only 103 calories.
What is a horned melon?
Native to African deserts, the horned melon is known by different names, like the African horned melon, African cucumber, jelly melon, hedged gourd, horned gourd, blowfish fruit, English tomato, and melano. These fruits belong to the family of cucumbers and melons. Though the fruit looks weird with its spines, it is widely consumed in some regions. The horned melon is said to be one of the few sources of water in Kalahari desert, during dry spells.
Though it is a relatively new entrant in most of the western countries, the horned melon is now commercially grown in New Zealand, Chile, Australia and some parts of the United States.
The green fruits turn orange, when they ripe. Unlike the flashy orange outer skin, the jelly-like inner flesh is lime green to yellowish-orange in color, and is interspersed with seeds. This spiked melon is low in calories; and has considerable amounts of dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron. This fruit can be stored at room temperature for at least two months. This could be one of the reasons for using horned melons for decorative purposes.
Tips for Eating a Horned Melon
Choosing the right melon
The edible part of a horned melon is the inner gelatinous pulp, which has a sweet and tart taste. So get a ripe fruit with no cuts and bruises. An unripe fruit will be hard and greenish. Once ripe, the rind as well as the spines turn orange, and the fruit becomes slightly soft. You may also buy a greenish-orange fruit, which will ripen (at room temperature) within a few days. Avoid keeping ripe horned melons inside the refrigerator.
Cutting the fruit
Rinse the fruit thoroughly. The easiest way to eat a kiwano is to cut the fruit horizontally, through its center. Take one piece and squeeze its pulp into the mouth. You have to squeeze the lower part (tip) of the fruit, so that the cut surface touches your mouth. Chew the flesh along with the seeds, or spit out the seeds after sucking the flesh. The seeds are like cucumber seeds and are edible.
Scooping out the flesh
You may also scoop out the inner flesh, using a spoon. For this purpose, it is better to cut the fruit lengthwise. The flesh can be eaten raw. You may add a little bit of salt or sugar to enhance the flavor. You may also cut the fruit into long slices and eat the flesh, like the way you eat sliced cantaloupes.
Ways to enjoy horned melon
The flesh of horned melons can be used in fruit salads, or can be consumed with vanilla ice cream or yogurt. If you want to use horned melon in fruit salads; use fruits, like kiwis, melon, passion fruit, banana, etc.
Horned melon cocktail
In order to prepare a kiwano melon cocktail, cut a fruit horizontally. Scoop out the flesh from one half of the fruit, and shake it with a few mint leaves, in a cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously, before adding two ounces of gin and half ounce of freshly squeezed lemon juice. Add some ice cubes and shake well. Strain into a martini glass, and add some champagne or wine. You may also use the glass-shaped rind of the fruit for serving this cocktail.
The pulp of the horned melon can be used in various recipes. You may use sliced horned melons for garnishing roasted meat. In short, there is no specific method to eat horned melons. You may either eat them raw, or consume with other food items. Otherwise, use its pulp or juice in food recipes.