Browsing through some recommended food blogs, we stumbled on older entries of 2011 carrying a picture of a bright coloured fruit with spikes. That’s probably when Kiwano entered the supermarkets in the US, Australia, New Zealand and other countries that side of the world.
The Kiwano, also known as the African Horned Melon is said to have its origins in Kalahari, Africa, where it grows in the wild.
In Zimbabwe, this cucumber is eaten as a fruit-snack at any stage of its development: young, mature green, or when ripe, bright yellow/orange. It grows naturally in the fields and also in the bush.
New Zealand perhaps was the first to cultivate this fruit outside its native African land. It was first introduced in NZ in the 1930s. More recently, it’s also been grown in California, Mississippi, Chile, and Australia. However, here it’s only preferred and recommended to be eaten when it’s fully ripe, that is when it turns all bright yellow-orange, as the flavour it attains at its ripe stage is most palatable to their taste buds.
The ripe melon’s fruit pulp resembles a cucumber, with seeds enclosed in green jelly-like flesh. In terms of flavour, it’s described as very mild, neither sweet nor tarty, more like a mix of cucumber, banana, and lime.
Most bloggers recommend using the fruit in salads. Some also suggest seasoning it with salt, like we do to bland water melons in India, to enhance its flavour.
While it may not have caught the fancy of the Western markets as expected, fans pick it up for its low calories. The fruit, that’s over 90 per cent water, is also rich in vitamin C, iron, potassium and magnesium.
On the response to this fruit from India, well we will have to wait and see once it’s introduced here. Hopefully it’ll happen soon.