Have you ever seen this scary fruit in your neighbourhood grocery store or market?

Thorn Melon

Thorn Melon

As unappealing as it may  be to the eye, the African Horn Melon (Kiwano) is a powerhouse rich in anti-oxidants and  nutrients; high in  Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Potassium, Iron and Zinc. Considered by some as the answer to Africa’s nutritional problems, the African Horned Melon or Cucumber (as it seems like a cross of the two) was once the only source of water in the Kalahari desert. It’s scientific name is Cucumis metuliferus and it originates from the Cucumber/Melon family.

This strange looking fruit has spiky skin with very sharp thorns that prick quite painfully if I may add. The Horn Melon can be cultivated or allowed to grow wildly in the bush/farms. When unripe, it takes a dull green colour and the more it ripens , the more it turns into a bright yellow/orange colour.

Unripe Kiwano

Unripe Kiwano

 

Ripening while on the vine. Ready for harvest.

Ripening while on the vine. Ready for harvest.

When I discovered this fruit, I was put off by its bland taste which borders between a raw cucumber  and a courgette (Zuchhini), not forgetting its jelly like slimy flesh which had countless seeds in the pods! Tough task to swallow I must say.

Kiwano Flesh and Seeds

Kiwano Flesh and Seeds

But it’s health benefits far outweigh any misgivings you may have about this stubby-looking fruit that truly resembles a porcupine.

The African horn melon is rich in anti-oxidants that have health-boosting and cancer-fighting properties.

The Kiwano is rich in vitamins, minerals and nutrients such as :

  1.  Vitamin A found in the seeds and pulp of the Kiwano perfect for eye health
  2. Trace metals such as Calcium and Phosphorus for the bone health and repair of body cells and tissues; Iron for blood health; Zinc for improved immunity as well as Sodium and  Potassium for regulated blood pressure.
  3. Beta Carotene, Lutein and  Lycopene, nutrients which aid in repair and protection of DNA, which translates to slowing down the ageing process. Linoleic acid and oleic acid are mono-saturated fats , a type of  are good cholesterol for the human heart and they also contribute to reduced blood pressure due to its hypotensive qualities.
  4. Vitamin B Complex and Vitamin C , ideal for the prevention against cardiovascular disease, various types of cancer not forgetting treatment of the common cold.
  5. Vitamin E in form of Tocypherol, that  is excellent for your skin producing healthy glowing skin.
  6. Fiber which greatly helps in stomach health and overall digestion.
  7. Water: Out of 100 mg of Kiwano, almost 90% is water.

 Juicy and ripe African Horn Melon!

Juicy and ripe African Horn Melon!

 

You can find this fruit at your local market, from as low as Ksh. 20/= to even Ksh. 100/= per piece!

So how exactly do you eat the thorn melon?

  1. First, make sure the fruit is ripe. Ripe African Horn Melons are a bright yellow/orange (see above). They are more palatable and the spikes are softer.
  2. Follow by washing the fruit while it is still uncut. This clears away any residual pesticides that may have lurched onto your fruit as well as dirt and grime.
  3. Secondly, cut off the thorns/spikes/ horns for ease of handling the fruit. The skin is not edible.
  4. To eat the fruit, cut across the equator or from top to bottom. This exposes the edible seeds and pulp as seen below.
    Sliced Kiwano fruit.

    Sliced Kiwano fruit.

    You can eat Kiwano raw: just press the skin around the pulp to your mouth and swallow the jelly like centre together with the seeds.  You can mix it in a fruit salad to make it more palatable and get rid of the bland taste. You can also scoop out the fruit with a spoon and enjoy the jelly fruit.

Kiwanos are so indiscriminate and diverse in use you can make them into a cocktail , a juice blend even ice-cream 🙂

Kiwano Ice -cream

 

So next time, you are in the market place, give a chance to this tough-looking nutritious fruit and reap the benefits of good healthy living.

Best*