Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Product Review: Horned Melon

This fruit (Cucumis metuliferus) has many names: blowfish fruit, cherie, English tomato, gaka, gakachika, hedged gourd, horned melon, horned cucumber, jelly melon, Kiwano, Melano, and métulon.[1] It is native to Africa and is related to several more familiar fruits: honeydew, cantaloupe, and cucumber (and, to a lesser extent, watermelon, squashes, and loofah). In 1982 cultivation of this fruit began in New Zealand and from there has spread to several other locations around the world, including Israel and California.[2] It's no wonder this fruit generates curiosity—it looks like something you'd find growing on an alien world.

Now once you've bought such a fruit, the first question you're confronted with is: how do I eat this thing? The first thing to know is that you shouldn't refrigerate it. That actually decreases its shelf life.[3] I learned this the hard way. The first horned melon I bought was rotten within a few days in the fridge.[4]

But I digress. Following suggestions I found on the internet [5], I determined that the horned melon should first be cut in half. The cross section of the fruit reveals a network of green cells. Each cell is filled with green jelly and with a seed. The trick is to suck out a cell, separate the jelly from the seed, swallow the jelly, and spit out the seed. This isn't difficult, but it you have to repeat the process for each individual cell.

My verdict: I thought this was worth trying once and was definitely delicious. Both Leann and I thought that the horned melon tasted like a banana, but with a tangy edge to it. Having to extract the seed from each little blob of jelly was time consuming and ultimately not very rewarding. Hopefully they someday breed or engineer a seedless variety. Since it was frustratingly slow to eat, I tried scooping everything out. The juice was bit thick, yet tasty. But I failed to discover a method to extract the seeds from their jelly en masse.


[1] See melon. Note that Kiwano and Melano are trademarked names for this fruit.

[2] National Research Council (2008) Lost Crops of Africa: Volume III: Fruits. The National Academies Press, p. 89. ISBN-10: 0-309-10596-X.

[3] Ibid., p. 90.

[4] I did put it to good use, though. I provided it to my MMBio 151 students to use as an organic material (i.e. a carbon source) for setting up Winogradsky columns.

[5] See

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