- Pepino Fruit Harvest: How And When To Pick Pepino Melons
- Pepino Fruit Harvest Info
- When to Pick Pepino Melons
- How to Harvest a Pepino Melon
- Pepino Melons
- Pepino Melon and Tomato Salad Recipe
- Pepino Melon
- Food Articles, News & Features Section
- PEPINO MELON
Pepino Fruit Harvest: How And When To Pick Pepino Melons
Pepinois a perennial native to the temperate Andes that has of late become an increasingly popular item for the home garden. Since most of these are first time growers, they may wonder when a pepino melon is ripe. For the most optimal flavor, knowing when to pick pepino melons is of paramount importance. Pick the fruit too early and it lacks sweetness, harvest pepino fruit too late and it may be too soft or even beginning to rot on the vine. Read on to find out the perfect time for harvesting pepinos.
Pepino Fruit Harvest Info
Although it prefers warm, frost free climes, the pepino melon is actually fairly hardy; it can survive low temperatures down to 27 F. (-3 C.). The succulent fruit varies in color and size from variety to variety but at its peak tastes much like a cross between a honeydewand cantaloupewith a hint of cucumberthrown in. This makes it a unique fruit that can be used in both sweet
and savory dishes as well as being delicious eaten fresh on its own.
Pepino melons are grown commercially in New Zealand, Chile and Western Australia where they grow as annuals but they can be grown in the milder areas of northern California as well.
Depending upon the variety, the fruit is between 2-4 inches long (5-20 cm.) borne upon a small, herbaceous plant with a woody base. The plant tends to grow vertically somewhat like the habit of a tomatoand, like a tomato, may benefit from staking. A member of the Solanaceae family, it’s no surprise that the plant resembles a potato in many ways. All very interesting, but when is a pepino melon ripe…
When to Pick Pepino Melons
Pepino melons will not set fruit until the night temps are above 65 F. (18 C.). Fruit reaches maturity 30-80 days after pollination. Although pepino melons are parthenocarpic, a larger fruit yield will be reached with cross-pollination or self-pollination.
An indicator of ripeness is often associated not only with an increase in size but with a change in the color of fruit, and pepino melons are no exception but because there are many varieties, other indices should be used to determine if the fruit is ripe. Skin color may change from green to pale white to cream and finally to yellow with purple striping.
Another indicator of ripeness is softening. The fruit, when gently squeezed, should give a little. Be careful when you squeeze the fruit, though, as it bruises very easily.
How to Harvest a Pepino Melon
Harvesting the fruit is easy. Simply pick the ripest looking fruit, leaving any others on the plant to ripen further. They should come off the plant with only the slightest of tugs.
Once done harvesting pepinos, they can be stored in the refrigerator for as long as 3 or 4 weeks.
Bored with the limited variety of winter fruits? Pepino melons could be just the ticket for keeping your palate entertained. Also known as melon pears, tree melons, or mellowfruit, Pepinos are mild and fragrant with a soft, smooth texture. They’re a wonderful alternative to other melons, and have many of the same culinary uses.
Eating healthy should still be delicious.
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The Pepino’s smooth skin is a creamy to pale green color with purple stripes when it is ripe. To ripen, leave it uncovered at room temperature and out of direct sun. Once ripe, it will be fragrant and can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Native to South America, the fruit is now also grown in California and New Zealand. While Pepino melons are similar to melons and pears in taste and shape, they are only distantly related. They are closer to the nightshade family, including the tomato. The entire fruit is edible, but the skin easily peels away.
Personally, I’m not crazy about honeydew or cantaloupe, but I do enjoy Pepinos. Try to find them now for a nice change from typical winter fruits. Here are a few ideas for what to do with one:
• Cut it in half and simply spoon it out for breakfast or a snack; the flavor is enhanced with a little sprinkling of salt or squeeze of citrus.
• Cube it up and toss it on your yogurt and granola or into a morning smoothie.
• For lunch, cube or slice one up to add to a spinach salad with a citrus vinaigrette, sesame seeds and roasted cashews.
• It would be a great replacement for typical melons in a fruit salad.
• Follow your instincts and whims: Try Pepinos as a garnish, in desserts, cocktails, appetizers.
• Like Prosciutto-wrapped melon? Why not try Prosciutto-wrapped Pepino?
• How about in a spicy fruit salsa to accompany macadamia-nut-crusted Tilapia?
Nutrition tip: As an added bonus, Pepino melons are a good option for getting our daily servings of fruit. A medium Pepino is just 80 calories, has 5g of fiber and is a good source of Vitamin C.
Pepino Melon and Tomato Salad Recipe
I love the look of these little almond-shaped fruits; they’re called pepinos. These are not intimidating, as some of the other exotic things we’ve discussed may have seemed. They are smallish, smooth, and pretty; no horns, bristles, or any other weird protrusions. Aren’t you glad?
Pepinos are relatives of the tomato and eggplant, and are grown similarly. They grow on bushy plants, and because of the weight of the fruits, the bushes are usually staked to keep them vertical. The plants can grow three to four feet in height and in tropical climates are perennial. They’re grown in many places: Ecuador, Australia, New Zealand, and even in the U.S. in California.
Pepinos taste like a blend of cantaloupe, pear, with (some say) a touch of lime. They can easily be used anywhere you’d use cantaloupe, although in appearance and structure, they certainly don’t look like one. They have a thin skin, for example, and can easily be peeled. They are similar in that they do have a center with lots of small seeds and soft, scoopable flesh.
According to Melissas.com, a produce vendor:
“A ripe Pepino Melon is characteristically striped vivid green and purple. If the creamy yellow background skin areas have a greenish tint, ripen Pepinos at room temperature, uncovered and out of direct sun. Once ripe, Pepinos are fragrant and will yield slightly to pressure. Refrigerate ripe fruit for up to 3 days.”
Use the pepino in the same way you’d use a cantaloupe. Here are a few ideas:
1/2 pepino melon, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 pound tomato, cut into 1-inch cubes
3/4 cup chopped fresh mint
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
Combine pepino melon, tomatoes and mint in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Allow to sit for ten minutes or so for the flavors to intermingle. Makes about four servings.
Pepino Melon Cocktail
- 2 whole Pepino Melons
- 1 pint Strawberries, washed
- 2 tablespoons Caster Sugar
- 2 cups White Wine dry or sparkling (note: could also use ginger ale or Sprite in place of the wine.)
- 2 sprigs Mint
- 1 tablespoon Black Pepper crushed
- 1 Orange Juiced
Cut the melon into pieces and remove seeds. Halve strawberries and place into a bowl. Remove balls of melon using melon baller and place into bowl. Sprinkle over the caster sugar, chopped mint and black pepper. Pour over orange juice and wine or Sprite. Carefully stir together and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Serve in tall flutes.
Another option for easy appetizers is to wrap chunks of pepino melon with prosciutto and fasten with a toothpick. Simple, flavorful, and fresh. Fast preparation, too!
A tropical fruit, native to South America that provides a mildly sweet cantaloupe and pear-like or honeydew melon flavor. The size and shape of this fruit varies depending on the speicies of the plant producing the Pepino Melon. Some Pepino Melons are small and round with a shape like an egg or apple, while others may be oblong in shape. The color of the outer skin may vary from a solid purple or green to a light cream and yellow color. In addition, the skin may have streaks of lighter or darker colors that are present among the various colored backgrounds of the Pepino. When it grows as a green colored fruit, the outer skin of the Pepino will have purple-lined streaks that remain as the fruit ripens from a pale green to a golden yellow. Despite the outer color of the Pepino Melon, the inner flesh will be orange to yellow in color. This fruit can be eaten raw, similar to an apple, consuming both the skin and the juicy inner flesh. Typically, the inner meat of the Pepino will contain edible soft seeds. However, some round shaped Pepino Melons have no seeds while the pear or egg-shaped varieties have some seeds and the oblong-shaped Melons contain the most seeds.
To serve, an unripened Pepino can be baked like a squash or when ripe, cut in half and prepared like a fresh melon. The Pepino Melon can also be used as an appetizer or an ingredient for salads, beverages, and sorbets. For storage, the Pepino can be ripened at room temperature or if it is ripe it should be stored in the refrigerator. This fruit is also known as a Melon Pear, Mellow Fruit, Mellowfruit, Pepino Dulce and Tree Melon.
Food Articles, News & Features Section
The Pepino melon (Solanum muricatum) is native to the highlands of Peru and Chile, but is now also grown in other South and Central American countries, in California and in New Zealand. The plant is not found in the wild and details of its origin are unknown. They were being grown in California at least by 1889. Today they are popular in Japan.
It is also known as treemelon, bush melon, pepino melon, melon pear and mellowfruit. Pepino is Spanish for ‘cucumber’, and the Latin American name pepino dulce means ‘sweet cucumber.’
(‘Pepino’ is also used in some areas of South America for the Cassabanana.)
Pepino’s are teardrop shaped and have a smooth skin that is striped with yellow and dark purple. The typical fruit is about 5 inches long and 3 inches in diameter. The flesh of this fruit is fragrant and combines the tastes of cantaloupe and honeydew.
Selection, Storage, and Preparation
Pepinos are available late fall to mid-spring. Fruits with a light yellow or green skin are not ripe, while fruits with dark purple stripes are ripe. Ripen at room temperature until as firm as a slightly ripe plum, then refrigerate ripe fruit for up to 3 days.
Make Pepinos part of your 5 to 9 A Day Plan!
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.