Paisley Plant of the Week: Jelly Melon

Paisley Plant of the Week: Jelly Melon

Kiwano or Jelly melon

What is this thing? Roughly the size and shape of an oblong personal melon of some kind. But, then it’s “horned” and bumpy, and well, it’s orange. Open it up and, woah Nellie, it’s green! Bright green! Is this someones idea of a garden joke? Sort of.

In Africa, where it originates, it is called “gaka” or “gakachika”. It can be called kiwano, melano, horned melon, English tomato, or cherie. It has many names. I think it’s because it’s kind of hard to peg. It can be eaten while it is still green, allowed to ripen to it’s full bright yellow and orange or at any stage in between.

Fruit from Outer Space?

It’s called a melon, but it’s really a cucumber. It’s kind of big like a melon, but inside it looks like a cucumber and it’s banana, citrus, cucumber, zucchini flavor all at once will have you wondering just what is this thing?

I love the Jelly Melon for a few reasons.

  1. It bears smallish size melons, perfect for a trellis.
  2. It’s interesting color and texture provides imaginative decoration in the garden and in the kitchen.
  3. It’s good in juice, you can also make a jam with it.
  4. It is extremely productive.
  5. You can pick the fruit small and pickle them.
  6. It’s high in antioxidants, vitamin C, iron, magnesium, B6,  and and has about 2g of fiber when you eat it skin and all. That’s pretty nutritious for one fruit.


Wait a second, so why haven’t we heard more about this “super fruit”? I mean, it seems like it would be up there with the acai, goji, and pomegranate right? Aside from the fact that these other fellows have really good press agents, there are some other issues with the jelly melon.

It’s odd flavor is one issue. It’s kind of tart, but not really, It can be bland, but not always, It’s hard to pin down. Sometimes referred to as a cross between a  lemon, a cucumber, a banana and a zucchini. Hmm that doesn’t really sound like something I would put together. When was the last time you enjoyed a lovely salad of cucumber, lemon, banana, and zucchini? Never. Right? Add to that it can sometimes taste, for lack of a better word, astringent. Although this is usually only if it is allowed to over ripen, which could be said of many fruits.

I’m not being a naysayer, I just want you to have all the facts before you make your seed decisions. Remember, I said I love them, I’m recommending them to you, but I do want you to have all the facts.

I think that as more Americans try them and find they enjoy them, then it won’t matter so much that it’s hard to say what they taste like.

Raise you hand if you want to try Kiwano!

So, here’s my plan. Let’s feed them to the kids! It really is the perfect kid’s garden addition. You grow them exactly like you would a cucumber.

Make a little trellis, plant 5 or 6 and prepare to be amazed. They are drought champions, after all, they come from the desert of Africa. They are pest and disease free. One small word of caution, they are a little prickly, so if the kids are hands on, they’ll need their gloves on hands.

Kiwano don’t care what the soil is like, acid, sweet, loamy, sandy, makes no difference. It’s cut throat in the African Savannah, our cultivated gardens don’t have anything that scares them.

They are uber productive. (Yes, uber is a technical term I learned from my kids) You will have scads of them. You can pick them when they are just two inches long and pickle them just like you would gherkins. They are not your average gherkins, which is what makes them rock!

Kiwano Pickles anyone?

And your kids are going to love them because, well, they’re weird! Orange and green, horns and all, they are just plain strange. And that makes them fun! They can be canned to make excellent jam, don’t forget the skin, it’s where the fiber is.

I found this link to a girl that makes Kiwano Syrup. Cool!


Kiwano syrup, soup or jam!

Try this. Cut a jelly melon lengthwise, scoop out the pulp, leaving an orange canoe. Mix the pulp with two ripe bananas, a handful of blueberries, maybe a strawberry or two, put it all back in the canoe and voila! Alien soup.

Here’s another…

Freeze two bananas and the pulp from your jelly melon overnight or for a few hours. In a blender, add one cup of milk, one cup of vanilla yogurt, add in your frozen fruit and blend until thick and smooth. Fold in another cut up (not frozen) banana, a handful of mini marshmallow and pour back into your hollowed jelly melon canoes. Asteroid smoothie anyone?

One more…this time a Salsa (I love salsa, don’t you?)

This recipe was found at an estate sale from the Montgomery household of Crawford, TX.

Kiwano Salsa


Kiwano Salsa...

  • 1/2 cup diced kiwano melon
  • 1/2 cup fresh pineapple
  • 1 teaspoon minced jalapeno
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon raspberry vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 2 bunch cilantro finely chopped
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
    • Combine melon, pineapple, jalapeno and onion in bowl.
    • In separate bowl whisk together oil, garlic, vinegar, lime juice and spices.
    • Pour over salsa and toss gently.


I hope you’ll try these. They’re popping up in Farmer’s Markets more, which is great. I think that with a little time our American sensibilities will come around, and we’ll embrace that not everything tastes like chicken. Some things taste like paisley.

Have a Jelly Melon Paisley day!~KeriAnne



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