The kiwano may look like a fruit from outer space (and in fact, it featured in an episode of Star Trek), but it’s a very popular snack in Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and parts of the U.S.
This peculiar fruit is also known as the horned melon, jelly melon, African horned cucumber, hedged gourd, melano, and blowfish fruit.
Kiwano connoisseurs describe the flavor of the slimy green interior as a cross between cucumber, zucchini, and kiwifruit (though as it ripens, it tastes more like a banana).
A fully ripened kiwano has an orange rind with prominent spikes. To eat plain, cut the fruit in half, as shown above. Gently squeeze one half until the slime-covered seeds ooze out. The seeds aren’t harmful to eat, but many people prefer to hold the seeds between their teeth and suck off the green flesh.
If that doesn’t sound appealing, you can also simply scoop out the inner fruit and toss it in fruit salads or use as a colorful garnish.
Kiwano melons are also excellent in exotic drinks. Check out this yummy recipe for a minty gin-and-champagne kiwano cocktail!
Have you ever tried a kiwano melon? What did you think? Tell us in the comments!
- How to Cut a Kiwano Horned Melon
- What is a Horned Melon and How to Eat it Easily
- Tips for Eating a Horned Melon
- What Is Kiwano, aka Horned Melon?
- What Does Horned Melon Taste Like?
- Other Names for Horned Melon
- How to Cut and Eat a Kiwano Fruit
- Kiwano Health Benefits and Nutritional Profile
- Delicious Kiwano Fruit Recipes
- Final Thoughts on Kiwano Fruit
- How to Eat Kiwano: Discover this Tasty African Cucumber
- Kiwano | Benefits of the African horned cucumber
- How to Cut a Kiwano
- How to Eat Kiwano
How to Cut a Kiwano Horned Melon
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What is a Horned Melon and How to Eat it Easily
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.
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Last updated: November 2, 2019
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Ever since I discovered dragon fruit, I have been on the hunt for other exotic fruits that you won’t easily find in the major supermarkets. Apples and oranges are great, but sometimes we just want to try something different!
So I recently stumbled upon kiwano fruit, also known as kiwano melon, or horned melon. Well, this odd looking fruit goes by many names, and its unusual, spiky appearance immediately caught my attention when I first saw it in a specialty grocery store.
Without knowing what it actually was, I decided to buy it. And I must say that I was quite surprised by its flavors and texture.
So what exactly is this weird looking fruit with spikes and how can we best cut and eat it? And what are some of the health benefits? Let’s find out more about the unique kiwano!
What Is Kiwano, aka Horned Melon?
The kiwano is indeed a fascinating little piece of fruit. Yes, it’s a fruit, not a vegetable. The spiky, yellow/orange skin of kiwano melons will immediately grab your attention.
And when you cut them open, the soft and bright green flesh may surprise you even more.
The fruit is actually native to southern and central Africa, but has also been grown in New Zealand, Australia and parts of the USA in recent times.
As you can see in the image below, the inside of this fruit looks very similar to the inside of a cucumber. But the outside looks more like a spiky melon.
Kiwano – cucumber, melon, or both?
So what is kiwano? A cucumber, a melon, or both? It seems this fruit is struggling with an identity crisis, but the kiwano is officially a member of the melon family as well as of the cucumber family.
The inside of the fruit is interesting. You’ll notice that it’s full of seeds, and these seeds are actually edible. The texture around the seeds is like a green jelly, which may taste kind of weird the first time you eat it.
What Does Horned Melon Taste Like?
So what does horned melon taste like? The general opinion is that it tastes like a mix of cucumber, zucchini, kiwifruit and banana. I would say that’s about right, but I would like to add cantaloupe into the mix.
I also found that the taste in general is not very sharp or sweet, it’s kind of neutral. This is good in a way, as it won’t be too much of a shock when you eat it for the first time. When it’s very ripe though, the banana flavors will start taking over control.
Other Names for Horned Melon
The kiwano goes by many other names, depending on where you are. The weird looks of this fruit and with the characteristics of cucumber and melon mixed together, it should be no surprise that the kiwano melon has been given many exciting names.
The scientific name for the kiwano fruit is Cucumis Metuliferus. Cucumis is a a reference to the cucumber and melon family, while metuliferus is a Latin word that refers to the spikes on the fruit.
Kiwano is also known as African horned melon, jelly melon, African horned cucumber, melano, and they have even been called spiked pears.
So if you’re on the hunt for a kiwano melon and you see any of these names, then you’ve probably found the right fruit.
How to Cut and Eat a Kiwano Fruit
Cutting and eating a horned melon is easy, but to make the most of it, the following tips may come in handy.
The first thing you should do is make sure you choose a ripe kiwano. A ripe one typically is not too hard (and not too soft either) and has an orange color rather than yellow or green.
Also, make sure you properly wash the fruit before cutting to avoid getting your knife dirty or contaminated.
You can “drink” a kiwano melon by cutting it in half and then squeeze the contents of one half into your mouth. The seeds can also be consumed so you can basically drink everything that you can squeeze out of the fruit.
However, the more common way to eat this fruit is to cut it in half and then scoop out bits and pieces with a spoon. Do the cutting and scooping on a clean cutting board so you can also eat the left-overs that you may spill.
Check out this video that shows how to cut and eat a kiwano melon:
The seeds and jelly-like flesh of kiwano melons are excellent ingredients for fruit salads. The juice also does very well in cocktails. You’ll have your guests wondering what’s in their drinks!
And of course, kiwano melons can easily be added to green smoothies as well. That’s what I’ve done many times to add extra flavors to my smoothies.
But to be honest, because they are so unique and also a bit pricey, I prefer to simply eat a kiwano melon by itself. That way I can best enjoy its unique flavors.
Oh, and don’t just throw the shells out. You can use the hollow shells as a fun way to serve desserts!
Kiwano Health Benefits and Nutritional Profile
Kiwano melon has quite a rich nutritional profile boasting a variety of nutrients, vitamins and minerals.
Let’s have a look at the most important and most abundant nutrients that exist in kiwano melons.
|Kiwano Melon Nutritional Profile (raw – 100 g)|
|Vitamin A (mcg RAE)||7 μg|
|Vitamin A (IU)||147 IU|
|Vitamin C||5.3 mg|
|Folate (Vitamin B9)||3 μg|
As you can see, a kiwano melon is very watery, is very low in calories and is rich in a lot of vitamins and minerals, such as potassium, magnesium and vitamins A and C.
Also worth noting is the relatively high protein content. This is because the kiwano has lots of protein-rich seeds.
Just like with most fruits, kiwano melon is rich in antioxidants, for example through Vitamin A with carotenoids and beta-carotene, and vitamin C.
Antioxidants are crucial for our health, protecting our bodies against cell damage caused by free radicals. It will help prevent disease and slow down the aging process. Vitamin A is also good for the eyes.
Horned melon – spiky fruit!
Magnesium is also a very important mineral, used by almost every single organ in our body, especially our heart and kidneys.
And calcium promotes good bone health and will help prevent conditions such as osteoporosis.
Although the kiwano fruit is indeed a very healthy food, high in important nutrients, it’s certainly not the most nutrient-dense type of fruit out there.
Kiwifruit for example is richer in nutrients, especially vitamin C and calcium. But that doesn’t take away the fact that the kiwano fruit is a very tasty alternative to the usual fruits we eat every day.
Delicious Kiwano Fruit Recipes
Believe it or not, there are actually some really nice recipes out there with kiwano fruit as a core ingredient.
Here are three recipes for you to try out:
1. Refreshing Kiwano Melon Smoothie
A surprisingly refreshing and nutritious kiwano smoothie recipe, with spinach, blueberries, banana and ginger.
I do realize that kiwanos are expensive, but as a smoothie fanatic I really love trying out new recipes, even if the ingredients are a bit pricey.
Here’s the complete list of ingredients. Feel free to experiment with other ingredients of course, but I find that the below mix works really well.
- 1 kiwano fruit (flesh only)
- 1 large cup baby spinach
- 1 small cup blueberries
- 1 banana (fresh or frozen)
- 1 tsp grated ginger
- 1 large cup water
- 1 small cup ice cubes
Blend it all together and you end up with a very refreshing smoothie that tastes delicious any time of day!
2. Grilled Beef with Horned Melon Sauce
A delicious and unique recipe for a sauce to go with beef. The sauce is made with kiwano pulp, lime juice, green onion, cumin and garlic, mixed together in a blender or food processor.
Once blended into a nice and creamy texture, the sauce can be spooned evenly over grilled lean beef, lettuce and cucumber.
You can find this delicious recipe on Food Network.
3. Kiwano Sorbet
We all love a refreshing sorbet, especially on a warm summer’s day, but have you ever thought of kiwano sorbet?
This delicious recipe over at Peaceful Dumpling is definitely worth a try. It’s a rather simple recipe with 1 kiwano fruit, 2 bananas, 1 apple, coconut sugar and water.
You will need a decent blender to process it all into one super tasty and nutritious sorbet.
Final Thoughts on Kiwano Fruit
Unfortunately it can be quite challenging to find horned melons. But I do encourage you to keep an eye out for them, especially at big fruit markets or specialty grocery stores.
The unique taste and texture of kiwano fruit should be enough reason to try it out at least once. And not to mention the health benefits!
Because the kiwano is not always readily available, the price tag can be somewhat hefty. But if you do succeed to find and buy one, I would love to hear your thoughts.
Do you love exotic fruits as much as I do? Let me know what fruits you have tried in the comments below!
Apple banana, you must wait until the bananas are soft, then peel and eat! They usually look like an over-ripe banana. These bananas are great for pies and fruit salads, as the fruit does not discolor. Apple bananas are available all year around.
Asian Guavas are available all year around and look like a large textured pear, but is hard like an apple. You can eat it either hard or soft according to your own preference. It tastes like a very sweet Granny Smith apple.
Avocados are usually available from August to February. They are a large green fruit. Florida avocados have a lower oil and fat content than other varieties, so they are considered a great idea for the health conscious. Florida Avocados have a rich almond-like flavor.
Black Sapote (also known as chocolate fruit) looks like a small green ball. You must wait until it turns black and juicy before you eat it. It tastes like chocolate pudding. Typically available December to February.
Caimito (Star Apple) is available from February to June. When it is soft, cut it in half and scoop out the fruit inside. It tastes like a sweet milky fruit.
Canistel (Egg Fruit) is shaped like a Hershey’s kiss, and is yellow. Wait until the fruit is extremely soft, then cut (or pull) it open and enjoy its sweet egg custard flavor inside. Available most of the year.
Carambola also known as star fruit, is a five-sided yellow fruit. Slice this fruit crosswise into little stars and eat all but the stem and seeds. It tastes kind of like a cross between an apple and an orange. Available August through February.
Ciruela is available only in June and is sometimes known in English as Yellow Mombin or June Plum. The Spanish name ciruela means “plum,” and these tree fruits look and taste a lot like northern plums. After growing on leafless tree limbs for months, the fruits ripen at the end of the dry season, in June or so.
Water Coconut/Coconut comes from Coconut Palm trees. The water coconuts are picked before they fully mature (Immature), so the water has a great refreshing flavor to it. They vary in color and have a smooth hard skin on them. Husked coconuts hang on the tree longer and produce the thick coconut meat that can be eaten raw or mashed into milk and other juices. The water in the husked coconut does not have much flavor. Available year-round.
Dragon Fruit has a bright red skin with a beautiful crimson color fruit inside. This fruit tastes like a raspberry, strawberry, kiwi. Eat everything except the skin. The best way to eat Dragon Fruit is to cut it in half and scoop it out with a spoon, or cut it into slices. It is available June through February.
Guanabana (SourSop) is in the same family as a sugar apple, but tastes a little different. Known as sour sop, this fruit is anything but sour. Wait until the fruit is extremely soft, cut in half, and eat the pockets of fruit from around the seeds inside. It tastes like pineapple cotton candy. Available most of the year.
Jaboticaba is a dark purple, small fruit with a thick skin. Tastes like a tropical, sweet grape. Break the skin and squeeze the juicy center out of the skin and enjoy. Available February-April.
Jackfruit is the largest tropical fruit that grows on a tree and can get up to 80 pounds each. Inside the spiny-skinned fruit are pockets of sweet meat that surround smooth, round seeds. The meat tastes like sweet pineapple-vanilla, and the seeds, when boiled, taste similar to a bean. Jackfruit is the original flavoring in Juicy Fruit Gum and is available during summer.
Key Lime is smaller and seedier than a regular lime, and has a higher acidity, a stronger aroma, and a thinner rind. It is used in the famous Key Lime Pie–Florida’s state pie! Available year-round.
Kumquat is a very small citrus fruit that is eaten skin and all. The skin is sweet and the inside is tart. You must eat the entire fruit at once to receive the full taste. It tastes similar to an orange. Available November to March
Longans are small, brown, round fruits that taste sweet. Just peel the smooth skin and eat the fruit from around the seed inside. They are usually available in June or July.
Lychee is small and rounded with scratchy skin. They come in a mixture of greens and reds, and can be eaten by peeling the thin skin from around the sweet fruit inside. Eat the fruit from around the seed. They are usually only available from mid-May to mid-June.
Mangoes are colorful reds, greens, and golds. Wait until the fruit is moderately soft. The beautiful rich yellow fruit inside has a peachy-pineapple taste. Although we have them year round, our local ones are ONLY during summer time.
Mamey Sapote looks very similar to a small brown football. Wait until the fruit is fully ripe before slicing (extremely soft!). The skin will feel loose and wrinkled. Slice and eat the smooth reddish fruit inside. It has the consistency of cheesecake and tastes rather like a strawberry-pumpkin cheesecake. Available March through January.
Miracle Fruit is a tiny red berry that makes everything eat or drink taste sweet for about 1 hour after consumption. To eat, gently break the skin with your teeth and work the skin of the fruit and the fruit off the seed. Makes lemons taste like lemonade! Available year-round.
Monstera Deliciosa looks like a giant green ear of corn. You must allow this fruit to ripen naturally. The green kernels will fall off by themselves about an inch at a time starting at the stem. Throw the kernels away and eat the white fruit exposed. It tastes like a sweet pineapple-banana. Monstera can be found from July to November.
Papaya is a large oblong-shaped fruit. Wait until the fruit “gives” to slight thumb pressure. Slice just as you would a cantaloupe and enjoy. It tastes very similar to a tropical cantaloupe. Usually available year-round.
Passion Fruit is a round, dark red or deep yellow fruit about the size of a golf ball (sometimes bigger). Wait until the skin is wrinkled, then slice and eat the pulp and seeds inside. It tastes like a super-strong orange juice. You will recognize the scent from tropical fruit punch. Available year-round.
Sapodilla looks like a large kiwi without the fuzz. You must wait until the fruit is very soft, then slice and enjoy. It tastes like a pear with brown sugar. Can be found January through April.
Spanish Limes (Mamoncillos, Genipas) are small and green, but packed with a sweet tart, candy flavor. To eat, you crack the shell and pop the orange flesh and seed in your mouth. Work the fruit off the seed and spit out when finished. Available July and August.
Sugar Apples (Anon, Atemoya, Cherimoya) look like a green pine cone or a hand grenade. Wait until the fruit breaks open when gently squeezed. Eat the creamy white fruit around the seeds inside, the fruit tastes like a pineapple, banana custard. Usually available from August to October.
Sugar Cane is one of Florida’s main crops. Peel the bark-like skin back and chew on the fibers inside. Most people typically do not swallow the fibers, but spit them out when the juice is gone. Try a cup of sugar cane juice (guarapo) for a sweet treat. Can be found year-round.
Tamarind looks like a brown bean pod, but grows on a tree. Peel the shell off and eat the dark brown fruit inside from around the seeds. It tastes like a Sweet Tart candy. Available year-round.
To view what’s in season and/or order, !
How to Eat Kiwano: Discover this Tasty African Cucumber
If you are wondering what is this strange yellow/orange fruit dotted with tiny horns, the answer is kiwano fruit. Now, if you’re wondering how to eat kiwano, let us explain more.
Also known as African horned cucumber and horned melon, kiwano is the fruit of a plant native to Africa: the Cucumis metuliferus, of the Cucurbitaceae family (the same as the watermelon and melon).
It’s an African climbing plant that is increasingly spreading among the exotic fruit consumed in western markets. This fruit was given the name “kiwano” around the ’30s, when it began to be imported into Australia and New Zealand, because, once cut, had a vague resemblance to the kiwi.
Kiwano | Benefits of the African horned cucumber
Photo: Judith Doyle / Flickr.com
Kiwano contains a good dose of vitamin C and vitamin B6; it is an excellent source of trace elements such as magnesium, calcium, potassium and iron.
The African horned melon is also low in calories, rich in water and can boast antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
How to Cut a Kiwano
Slicing open a kiwano can be tricky when it comes to avoiding those outer spikes – follow these easy video tips to get at the pulp inside:
How to Eat Kiwano
Kiwano have an intense, slightly bittersweet and watery flavour. Some liken it to halfway between a cucumber and a banana.
In Africa, kiwanos are often eaten whole, after roasting or boiling together with vegetables. In the West, they are usually eaten without the skin.
Once sliced open, it’s easy to extract the pulp, which can be enjoyed as it is (maybe adjusting to taste with salt, sugar, vinegar or lemon) or simply added to fruit salads, yoghurt or even cocktails or turned into ice cream or sorbets. Check out the exoticgrocer for kiwano recipe ideas.