March 8, 2018
Are dragon fruit and papaya no longer enough to satisfy your inner craving for adventure in the produce department? Have no fear: the next level of exotic is here. Like something out of Avatar, the kiwano (AKA horned melon) can’t help but attract attention. Common in Africa and New Zealand, and growing in popularity in Europe, this brightly colored, spiky fruit has a lot of flair and a bit of attitude. With a unique, addictively refreshing flavor and texture, kiwano is poised to take the US by storm.
But just what is a kiwano? We've got all your questions, answered:
Is it a fruit or a vegetable?
Kiwano (also sometimes called a horned melon or jelly melon) are most definitely a fruit!
Is it really a melon??
NO! While it is in the same biological family as cucumber and melon, it is definitely NOT a melon.
What does it taste like?
Refreshing! The flesh of a ripe kiwano is like passionfruit, banana, cucumber, and lime combined, with a soft, jelly-like texture. The less ripe the fruit, the less sweet the flavor; it will taste less like a banana and more like a zucchini or cucumber. Inside, the flesh is studded with large, edible, seeds like those of a cucumber. The seeds can be eaten, but some prefer to strain them for a smoother texture. The skin is not generally eaten.
Where does it come from?
Kiwano is native to Sub-Saharan Africa, where it is a favorite snack. They grow all over Africa (and are one of the only sources of water during the dry season in the Kalahari Desert!), but most commercial production is now in New Zealand’s Bay of Plenty region. This fertile and lush coastal area has natural minerals blow in from the Pacific Ocean that give NZ-grown kiwano their distinctive flavor and extra-long shelf life.
What’s the nutritional value?
A nutrient powerhouse and hydration helper. Kiwano is loaded with antioxidants like beta-carotene and alpha-tocopherol, which helps keep nerves and blood vessels healthy. It’s an excellent source of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, vitamin A, and magnesium, boosting your immune system and reducing oxidation. With 90% water content, kiwano is a great low-calorie way to stay hydrated. It’s also a great source of potassium for sports recovery.
How do I cut a Kiwano?
Kiwano are incredibly easy to cut and eat! Just cut the fruit in half or into wedges. Eat the flesh right out of the skin or serve wedges like you would orange slices. If you really want the authentic kiwano experience, go spoon-less and just squeeze the pulp from a very ripe kiwano straight into your mouth!
When are they in season?
Kiwano from New Zealand are available from spring through summer.
Do I put Kiwano in the fridge?
N0! Kiwano should be kept at room temperature – always above 64° F. It does not like to be cold!
How do I know if it’s ripe?
A ripe kiwano has vibrant orange skin and will give to slight pressure.
What on Earth do I do with it?
It’s a great snack out of hand – and it’s also an incredibly flexible fruit! Make smoothies, juices, cocktails, sauces, salsas, sorbet, desserts, raita, salads (and bowls to put salads in). To extract the juice from the seeds, simply push the flesh through a sieve or strainer-like mesh. Add a slice to your water for a flavor boost, or squeeze the pulp out over your favorite vanilla ice cream. It pairs well with other fruits such as bananas, mango, and melon. The fruit even has savory applications: use it in salsas or sauces to serve with roasted meats like steak and pork chops, or seafood like halibut and scallops!
Our favorite Kiwano recipe ideas:
Looking for an exotic cocktail option? Try muddling mint and kiwano to make these zesty mixed drinks. Get the recipe for kiwano reeves here!
The flavor pairs especially well with melon, passionfruit, coconut, honey, and vanilla ice cream. Check out this zesty kiwano-orange ice cream recipe here!
The fun doesn’t stop there! Though less common, kiwano can also pair with other ingredients to make perfect compliments to some savory dishes. Paired with avocado, kiwano and avocado can make the perfect, creamy dressing on salads. Get the recipe here!
Kiwano, Specialty Produce, Exotic Fruit, Product Guide