My fruit hunting adventure started at the St Lawrence Farmer’s Market last Saturday morning. I chose St Lawrence because I thought it would give me the widest range of fruits to chose from. My wanderings took me through crowds of people and past the usual fruit and veggie stalls both inside and outside the Farmer’s Market building. I was beginning to lose hope of finding anything new or different amidst the usual strawberries, raspberries, cherries, peaches & apples. I was about to give up the search & settle with buying tomatillos, but I never made it to that table. Instead, a strange & spiky greenish-yellow fruit caught my eye.
“Fresh Ontario Jelly Melons”! I was intrigued and it was a fruit that was apparently known by several names, which only piqued my interest more. At only $1, the price was enticing as well. I asked the young woman behind the table how to eat this fruit & she told me to simply cut it in half & eat it with a spoon. She was also kind enough to give me a riper (more yellow-orange) one than the ones on the table.
The Horn melon is the fruit produced from the Cucumis metuliferus traveling vine plant. It is a member of the Cucurbitaceae family, along with most all melons as well as cucumbers and squashes. It is also known by several other names; Kiwano melon, African Horned melon, African Horned cucumber, hedged gourd, jelly melon, blowfish fruit, cherie and melano. It is originally native to Africa, hence, the African Horned melon but is now primarily grown in New Zealand where it is called a Kiwano melon. It is high in Vitamin C and a source of Vitamin A, iron and potassium. – See more at: (http://www.specialtyproduce.com/produce/Horn_Melon_656.php#sthash.2ZbRoHRl.dpuf)
The Kiwano melon is a summer fruit but can be bought year round. The ones available in the fall & winter are usually from New Zealand & Australia, while the spring and summer melons would be from California, Mississippi or Chile. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cucumis_metuliferus)
Now that I knew a little about this strange melon, I was ready to cut into it & taste it! The inside was a bright lime green which complemented its colourful outer skin. The white seeds reminded me of a cucumber, which makes sense, being from the same plant family. I scooped out a spoonful for my first taste & was greeted by a very smooth & gelatinous texture that retained its form, even after having it in my mouth. The taste was a subtle mixture of cucumber & kiwi with the fruity citrus tang of a lime. Adding a pinch of salt or sugar to the fruit was suppose to enhance its flavour. I tried a spoonful with each and I found it did make the flavours more pronounced & a little less subtle. I could especially taste more of a lime flavour when a pinch of sugar was added to it.
I couldn’t find any recipes in which you actually cook the inside of the fruit. It is not used much in western cooking and any recipes I did find were for dressings, smoothies, drinks, fruit salads or fruity sauce onto already cooked meat or fish.
In the spirit of experimentation, I tried out a drink recipe, called a Minty Blowfish. http://fruitmaven.com/2010/02/minty-blowfish-kiwano-cocktail/
The drink was okay, but tasted like minty cucumber water with Gin, so I wouldn’t make it again. I was fun to make though and yes, I did drink it out of the hollowed out skin. The skin almost seems more useful as a fancy and unique serving dish than the actual fruit jelly inside.
That’s all for now, until my next food adventure!