The jelly melon plant is one of the most popular fruits in Japan. They are very small, but they have a sweet flavor and are considered a delicacy. They are native to New Zealand, where they were introduced in 1877. Since then, they have spread throughout much of the world.
Kiwano (or Kiwi) horned fruit is a type of melon with large, dark red berries that ripen at different times during the year. There are two types: kiwano (the larger variety), which is used primarily for juice or jam; and kumara (smaller varieties). Both types of fruit are edible, though kiwano is usually sweeter than its smaller cousin.
There are many varieties of kiwano, including those from New Zealand and other places around the world. In the United States, it is grown mainly in California. There are other types of horned melons, but they are not as well known.
The melon is round and covered with hard, knobby “horns” that are usually light green in color. The juice can make the hands slightly sticky, so it is recommended to wear gloves when preparing the fruit.
Melons are rather dry; their taste is a bit spicy and can be compared to a mix of cucumbers and zucchini.
Kiwi horned melons are most often eaten raw, alone or in salads. They also make a great addition to fruit cups, and can be prepared with sugar to make them sweeter. The fruit can be eaten with the seeds or without; the flesh comes away easily from the hard shell of the melon.
New Zealand, California and Arizona are the three major producers of kiwano in the United States. They grow outdoors during the summer months, and then are brought inside or to a greenhouse for storage during the winter.
Kiwano horned melons are a very good source of vitamin C and rich in potassium. They contain some protein, but otherwise are low in calories and carbohydrates.
The kiwi is not as well known in the United States as other types of melon, such as the cantaloupe or honeydew, but it is becoming increasingly available at specialty markets.
Kiwi horned melon plant care is generally easy. The plants prefer to grow in full sun; however, they will tolerate light shade. They need a rich, fertile soil and regular watering. The vines can be trellised to help support their weight as they grow.
The kiwano horned fruit can reach 15 pounds when fully ripe; if left on the vine too long, they are likely to split open due to their own weight. In addition, these melons have a high moisture content, so they should be harvested regularly.
In New Zealand, the kiwi is considered to be the national fruit. It is also a symbol of New Zealand and appears on that country’s coat of arms.
How to ripen a kiwi horned melon:
They can be ripened off the vine, but they will not taste quite as sweet.
If you want to ripen off the vine, place them in a paper bag and check them every day. They will be ripe in seven to 10 days.
Once they are ripe, store them in the refrigerator where they will keep for about a week. You can also freeze them for up to six months if you wish.
To ripen on the vine, simply allow them to continue to ripen until they are golden in color. This could take several weeks, but they will be sweeter if allowed to fully ripen.
Here are other types of horned melons:
Kantola – This variety grows on a vine that can reach 20 feet long. It originated in Africa and was introduced into the United States in the 1800s. The vines need lots of room and warmth to grow properly, but they do produce some large melons.
Sources & references used in this article:
… between Lutein Monoester Regioisomers and Detection of Lutein Diesters from Marigold Flowers (Tagetes erecta L.) and Several Fruits by Liquid Chromatography … by DE Breithaupt, U Wirt, A Bamedi – Journal of Agricultural and Food …, 2002 – ACS Publications
The potential of South African plants in the development of new food and beverage products by BE Van Wyk – South African Journal of Botany, 2011 – Elsevier
Cucumis metuliferus by TK Lim – Edible Medicinal And Non-Medicinal Plants, 2012 – Springer
Field Guide to Produce: How to Identify, Select, and Prepare Virtually Every Fruit and Vegetable at the Market by A Green – 2004 – books.google.com