About the African Horned Cucumber
( Cucumis metuliferus )
The African Horned Cucumber is a strange-looking fruit of a tropical plant that is native to Southern Africa, and has only recently (in the past century) been introduced to other parts of the world, namely Australia and New Zealand, which is where it picked up the name kiwano
, due to its similar consistency and appearance to kiwis. It is in the fruit family of Cucurbitaceae, hence also known as African Melon or Cucumber amongst other name.
This cucumber is about 200 grams, oval shaped with spiny protrusions and gelatinous pulp that houses multiple seeds. The immature fruit is green with a tender skin which beomes thicker with maturity. As it matures it also becomes yellow to orange and can be eaten at any stage depending on preference. The skin is also eaten especially when tender… it is just a matter of taste and preference.
It offers a very particular flavor, reminiscent of cucumber, lemon, kiwi and banana, combines sweet and sour tastes, resulting in a refreshing fruit to the palate.
How to use the African Horned Cucumber
For fresh tasting, the kiwano opens in half and is eaten with a teaspoon, like the passion fruit , although its seeds are more delicate. Its pulp is also extracted for the preparation of dishes, both sweet and salty, it is an ideal accompaniment for fish and an excellent ingredient to make jellies, jams and REFRESHING DRINKS.
The ripening moment of this fruit is appreciated by the bright orange color of its skin, if it is acquired more yellow, it can be left at room temperature so that it will mature slowly, if the orange color is turned off, it means that the fruit has over ripened.