What is a Kiwano Melon?

Malcolm Tatum

A hybrid fruit that originates in the southern and central sections of Africa, the kiwano melon is a unique blend of flavors, with a mix that includes hints of banana, lime, and cucumber. These melons have an interesting appearance that is almost as unique as the flavor. The fruit is oval shaped, similar to that of a kiwi. However, the peel is usually a combination of bright orange and yellow, and is punctuated with horns scattered around the surface of the peel. The pulp or meat of the kiwano melon is generally yellow-green when ripe.

New Zealand is also a major producer and exporter of the kiwano melon.
New Zealand is also a major producer and exporter of the kiwano melon.

While hailing from Africa, New Zealand is also a major producer and exporter of the kiwano melon. More recently, the melon has become an established crop of the state of California in the United States. The increasing number of locations that produce the melon has greatly increased the availability of the fruit.

Some compare the taste of the kiwano melon to a cucumber, with notes of banana and lime added.
Some compare the taste of the kiwano melon to a cucumber, with notes of banana and lime added.

Selecting a kiwano melon follows many of the same guidelines that are employed with the selection of other fruits. In order to obtain a melon that is ripe yet still firm, it is important to check for any spots or bruises on the peel. The peel itself should appear to be bright yellow and orange in appearance. If the shade of orange is darker, that is a sign that the melon is past its prime, although the flesh may still be fine for juicing.

Damaged horns are another indication that the kiwano melon may contain a lot of bruises from rough handling. Typically, the horns should be intact and nothing more than the extreme ends of the tips broken during transit.

Checking for soft spots is another method to select kiwano fruit that is still ripe. Gently squeeze the surface of the melon in a manner similar to testing a tomato. If the flesh gives, then the melon is probably not the best choice.

Many people prefer to purchase a kiwano melon when it has not fully ripened. Unripe melons will slowly ripen at room temperature over the period of a week and be usable for three to four more days. While it is not necessary to refrigerate the kiwano melon, many people prefer to chill the melon before serving.

The kiwano melon is a fruit that originated in southern and central Africa.
The kiwano melon is a fruit that originated in southern and central Africa.

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