• Sumo

Now here is a unique type of fruit that a large portion of have probably never heard of. I certainly had no clue what a kiwano was until a few weeks ago when I came home from work and found this peculiar fruit sitting on my desk. My wife would inform me that she found it while out grocery shopping and that it looked fun to try, plus it might make for an interesting nutrition facts article. I’m not about to disagree with my wife on something like that! Let’s look together at today’s spotlighted fruit, the kiwano!

Kiwano Culture and History

There are bound to be a handful of readers scratching their heads and wondering what, if anything, a kiwano actually is. It sounds like a mixture of a kiwi with a melon or something, and that’d be somewhat accurate. Kiwanos are also called horned melons, owing to the fact that they have spikes jutting out from the rind which, yes, actually do hurt quite a bit if you’re not careful. They tell you that the skin is edible but then the spikes remind you that they’re there and you suddenly don’t want to eat the skin anymore.

The actual history is pretty scarce as the kiwano isn’t very well known or all too popular throughout the world. It’s very rare that I’m at a loss for any sort of history, but in the case of the horned melon here, there’s just not much to it other than it comes from Africa and is now grown all over, specifically California in the US and also in New Zealand.

A strange trend I’ve begun to notice from the more obscure fruits is that they can’t settle on one specific name. While you have the kiwano and the horned melon, you may also refer to it as the African horned cucumber, the jelly melon, the hedged gourd, the English tomato, the melano, or the cherie. Oh, and some people call it the blowfish fruit, too. That’s just such a mish-mash of things that it’s hard to really figure it out. Is it like a melon or a kiwi or a tomato or a cucumber or what? Well, it’s sort of like all those things at once. Plus spikes.

Health Benefits of Kiwano

Since it isn’t particularly well-known, there aren’t really any studies widely cited as to secret health benefits or ways that it can cure some odd ailment or whatnot. It does, however, have a lot of vitamin C to it as well as high levels of fiber, but of course you could have figured about as much just by the fact that this is a fruit and those are required to have high levels of vitamin C and fiber.

Also at work is the necessary potassium requirement (fruits just have that), though the kiwano only has about half as much as a banana would, so no need to switch potassium-rich fruits just yet. You’ll also find a good amount of protein and vitamin A. And that’s…that’s pretty much everything there is to the kiwano melon’s health benefits. It’s low in calories and high in vitamin C, so basically it’s a fruit and acts like a fruit.

With the spikes, I don’t really have to go into detail about how you should be careful with them, but hey, be careful with those spikes, yeah? Even though the skin is possible to eat, you wouldn’t want to because of both the spikes and the fact that the skin tastes like…hmm…I can’t think of a perfect analog here to what the skin tastes like, so I’ll just go with the word “blairgh” and leave it at that.

Eating More Kiwano

Like the pomegranate or the artichoke, the kiwano is very much an event food, by which I mean a food that you don’t just grab and say “I shall eat this as a snack on my way to work.” Rather, you’re probably going to want to sit down and have at it with your complete focus on the task at hand. The simplest way to eat one is to slice it in half either lengthwise or widthwise and then scoop the innards out with a spoon. And then you’ll discover the taste and you’ll be in for a strange ride.

Yes, I tried it when my wife offered, and I really had no clue what I was to expect. The taste has hints of bananas, which I’m alright with, and just a hint of kiwi, which I’m really alright with, but then comes the cucumber flavoring and ruins the whole thing. Curse you cucumber! I thought I had escaped your terribleness once and for all!

As far as recipes go, there also doesn’t seem to be a ton that people have thought to do with kiwanos just yet. I’ve found a recipe for some salsa that uses horned melons, which I could see working rather well, as well as some sorbet, which I could see tasting gross, and I’d have to assume that kiwanos can be added to salads of all sorts, but I won’t be the one to do it.

This really is disappointing as I was happy to bring up a unique fruit that I’m had the chance to experience firsthand, but I just couldn’t get into the taste. But I can’t be the only opinion here! I want to know if any of you have tried the kiwano and what you think about it. Is it one of your favorite fruits? Or are you like me and just prefer something else? Leave a comment and let me know! And hey, in the meantime, you could always buy a kiwano for your kid and tell them it’s a dragon egg. That’ll go over great!