Exotic fruits always entice me, and kiwano melons happen to be one of them. A kiwano melon is native to the sub-Saharan regions of Africa. It is bright orange in color with spiky thorn-like projections.
Of late, kiwanos have become popular in the United States. They are also grown in Europe and New Zealand.
If you come across this fruit in the market. You may be wondering what it tastes like and whether it will be worth your money.
You are at the right place because in this article we will discuss everything you need to know about the kiwano melon including the flavor, texture, how to eat it, health benefits, culinary uses, and so much more.
Kiwano melon taste
I would describe the taste of kiwano melon as mild, slightly sweet, and tart. Its taste is very similar to that of cucumber, but it also has banana and citrus undertones.
Kiwano melon’s inner flesh is pulpy and gelatinous. I always say that it feels like Aloe Vera jelly.
Kiwano naturally has a lot of juice in it. When you slice it, you’ll notice juice dripping out. The juice is ideal for drinking. It tastes amazing and it also has several health benefits. When you chop kiwano melon, you’ll notice a very pleasant aroma that has a summery vibe to it.
Other than that, kiwanos have a mass of white seeds throughout the flesh. The seeds are edible and are pretty much tasteless.
Their texture is similar to that of cucumber seeds. I personally do not like eating the seeds, I prefer to discard them. Discarding the seeds is quite a task since they are found throughout the flesh.
My favorite thing about kiwano melon is that it does not have an overwhelming tropical taste. The flavor is very mild, some would say underwhelming.
Choosing the best kiwanos
If you want to enjoy a kiwano melon, choose the one that is ripe and full of juice. Choose the ones that are vibrant orange in color with spikes. If the kiwano is green in color, it is not yet ripe.
You should also try squeezing the kiwano gently. The flesh should not be too soft or mushy. However, it should give a little.
Don’t be scared off by the spiky exterior of kiwanos. By the time they are brought to the market, they are not too sharp.
Kiwano melon culinary uses
Kiwano melons have several culinary uses. Here are a few that you can try.
Eat out of hand
You can eat kiwano melon out of hand. Just slice the fruit vertically and use a spoon to scoop out the flesh and seed.
Since it is difficult to remove the seeds by hand, just eat the spoonful and spit out the seeds once you have eaten the flesh. To enhance the flavor you can sprinkle some salt or sugar.
Make kiwano juice
This is one of my favorite ways to enjoy kiwano. All you have to do is toss it into a blender, process it till it forms a liquid, strain the pulp, and enjoy.
Slice kiwano melons vertically and then hollow them out. Once you do this, you can stuff it with some of your favorite fillings. The skin of the kiwano holds its shape and is also quite attractive.
Add to fruit salads
Kiwano melon is a perfect addition to fruit salads. Pair it with fruits that have a subtle flavor like rock melon. This way, the other fruits will not overpower its taste.
Make ice cream and sorbents
You can use kiwano to make ice cream and sorbents the same way you use other tropical fruits.
Smother on sundaes and ice cream
If you are having ice cream or sundae for dessert. Don’t use the usual caramel sauce. Instead, smother some kiwano pulp on them. The pulp gives sundaes and ice cream an amazing tropical flavor.
Are kiwanos nutritious?
Other than being tasty, kiwanos are also nutritious. They have very high water content and low amounts of carbohydrates, calories, and fats.
If you compare kiwanos to other fruits, you’ll realize that it has a high protein content. In fact, 16% of its calories are from protein.
Kiwanos are also packed with minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants.One kiwano melon will give you 18% of your daily requirement of vitamin C and 21% of magnesium.
Interesting facts about kiwanos
- The scientific name for kiwano melon is Cucumis metuliferus. It belongs to the same family as cucumbers and melons.
- The kiwano melon goes by several names. They include; African horned cucumber, horned melon, spiked melon, hedged gourd, melano, gaka, and jelly melon.
- A lot of people worldwide became familiar with kiwano after Thanos ate it as a snack in the movie Avengers – Endgame.
- Kiwano is one of the few sources of water in the Kalahari desert during the dry season.
- Kiwano vines have stems can grow up to 10 feet in length and the leaves are normally covered with hair.
- The flesh of kiwano melon resembles that of cucamelon.
- In Australia, the kiwano vine is considered a weed.
The kiwano melon has a distinct appearance and a mildly sweet and tart flavor. The kiwano is not as packed with flavor as most people assume since its taste is quite mild. Some people even describe the flavor as bland. You may need to add a little bit of salt or sugar to the fruit to enhance its flavor.
The texture of kiwano is not very pleasant. It contains so many seeds that you cannot avoid, especially if you are eating it out of hand. The best way to enjoy kiwano is by juicing it.
Kiwanos are low in carbs and calories. Therefore, they are a good option for those on a low-carb diet but who want a sweet treat. Kiwanos will not interfere with your carbohydrate intake for the day.
If you have never tasted kiwano melons, I suggest that you do. Chances are that you will not find the taste of a kiwano unpleasant. Let me know if you like them.