Horn melon produce spiky points throughout its bright yellow and orange, mottled skin. The interior contains a rich, jelly-like, lime green flesh studded with white seeds reminiscent of cucumber seeds. The melon has a sweet and tart, banana-lime taste. A flavor that is enhanced when chilled. The brighter the orange skin, the sweeter the flesh of the fruit. The Horn melon is the size of a large pear and generally weighs less than one pound. Both the seeds and the flesh are edible.
Available during the summer season, look for Horn melons beginning in spring.
The Horn melon is the fruit produced from the Cucumis metuliferus traveling vine plant. It is a member of the Cucurbitaceae family, along with most all melons as well as cucumbers and squashes. The Horn melon is one of few melons that actually resembles a cucumber more than a melon, as its seeds are found throughout its flesh, not just within a seed cavity. The Horn melon has several other vernacular names, including kiwano, African Horned melon, African Horned cucumber, hedged gourd, jelly melon, blowfish fruit, cherie and melano.
The Horn melon consists of over 90% water and is rich in vitamin C. It is also a source of iron and potassium.
Horn melon can be used in both sweet and savory recipes with or without its seeds. Use in sweet preparations such as ice creams, sorbets, syrups and fruit salads. To remove the seeds press the interior flesh through a fine mesh sieve. Use the seed free juice to flavor cocktails, smoothies, dressings and sauces. The hollowed shell makes an excellent and unique serving dish. Its flavor pairs well with melon, passion fruit, banana, coconut, honey and vanilla yogurt or ice cream. Horn melon will keep at room temperature or refrigerated for up to a week or ten days.
Having origins in Kalahari, Africa, where it grows wild, the Horn melon is primarily cultivated in New Zealand, where it was introduced in the 1930s. Though it is cultivated in New Zealand it is also considered an invasive noxious weed, which often happens when non-native plants are introduced to new landscapes. The Horn melon is also grown for ornamental purposes as it has actually been the winner of aesthetic prizes gaining recognition for its unusual appearance.