|Cucumis metuliferus fruit|
Cucumis metuliferus, horned melon or kiwano, also called African horned cucumber or melon, jelly melon, hedged gourd, or melano, is an annual vine in the cucumber and melon family. Often known by its nickname in the southeastern United States, blowfish fruit, it is grown for its fruit, which look like oval melons with horn-like spines. The fruit of this plant is edible, but it is used as often for decoration as for food. When ripe, it has a yellow-orange skin and a lime green, jelly-like flesh with a tart taste, and texture similar to a cucumber. The horned melon is native to Africa, and it is now grown in California, Mississippi, Chile, Australia, and New Zealand, as well.
In Zimbabwe, this cucumber is called gaka or gakachika, and it is primarily used as a fruit-snack, salad, and, rarely, for decoration. It is eaten young, mature green, or when ripe, bright yellow/orange (i.e., at any stage of its development). It grows naturally in the fields and also in the bush. However, some people leave some to rot in the fields for the next summer's seeds/plants. Its taste has been compared to a combination of cucumber and zucchini or a combination of banana, cucumber and lemon. Some eat the peel, as well. The fibrous structure and protein composition of the peel provides for a taste and texture similar to the plantain family. One variety does not have horns, but looks and tastes similar. The seeds are covered in a gel-like substance. The skin is very rich in vitamin C and fiber. A small amount of salt or sugar can increase the flavor. The fruit can be used in cooking, but when eaten raw, most suck out the pulp and spit out the seeds.
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||183 kJ (44 kcal)|
|Vitamin A equiv.||7 μg (1%)|
|- beta-carotene||88 μg (1%)|
|Thiamine (vit. B1)||0.025 mg (2%)|
|Riboflavin (vit. B2)||0.015 mg (1%)|
|Niacin (vit. B3)||0.565 mg (4%)|
|Pantothenic acid (B5)||0.183 mg (4%)|
|Vitamin B6||0.063 mg (5%)|
|Folate (vit. B9)||3 μg (1%)|
|Vitamin C||5.3 mg (6%)|
|Calcium||13 mg (1%)|
|Iron||1.13 mg (9%)|
|Magnesium||40 mg (11%)|
|Manganese||0.039 mg (2%)|
|Phosphorus||37 mg (5%)|
|Potassium||123 mg (3%)|
|Sodium||2 mg (0%)|
|Zinc||0.48 mg (5%)|
|Link to USDA Database entry
Percentages are roughly approximated
using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
A traditional food plant in Africa, this fruit has potential to improve nutrition, boost food security, foster rural development and support sustainable landcare.[not in citation given] Along with the Gemsbok cucumber, it is the only source of water during the dry season in the Kalahari desert. Despite the fruit's colorful appearance, it has not found any significant uses in Western cuisine, and has been called "astringent", and the prices "exorbitant".
In terms of chemical makeup it is similar to others in the family Cucurbitaceae.
- "Kiwano: It's what's inside that counts", The Seattle Times.
- "Let's discover some more little-known fruits", Deseret News.
- National Research Council (2008-01-25). /openbook.php?record_id=11879&page=89 "Horned Melon". Lost Crops of Africa: Volume III: Fruits. Lost Crops of Africa 3. National Academies Press. ISBN 978-0-309-10596-5. Retrieved 2008-07-17.
- (French) Parc de Khal-agadi, pas si désert, in Science & Vie n° 1130, November 2011, pp. 18-21.
- Elizabeth Schneider. Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini. William Morrow. p. 345. ISBN 0-688-15260-0.
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