Every year, new exotic fruits and vegetables appear on supermarket shelves. Even having bought a fruit for a test, not all lovers can say with certainty what they are holding in their hands - a fruit or a vegetable, and how to eat it properly. Another such novelty is a nod. What kind of fruit is this? Some people think that kiwano is a fruit, as it is, which no one really knows. Others are sure that this is a vegetable. And only in one opinion are all united. A fruit that looks like a hedgehog is very healthy. How to eat Kiwano and what is this exotic plant? You need to figure this out.
Kiwano fruit is called conditionally. This is actually a vegetable from the Pumpkin family. Simply put, a close relative of an ordinary cucumber. It is called differently - African prickly cucumber, bicorn or jelly melon. Wrong are those who call it Antillean cucumber or anguria. These are completely different plants, in which you can notice only some external resemblance.
Bicorn melons are grown everywhere in countries with a hot tropical climate, and they are specialized in New Zealand, the USA (California), Israel and Colombia.
Kivano is an annual grassy vine with thin but strong stems. In length, it reaches 5-6 meters. This is a thermophilic plant of short daylight, which can be grown as a garden crop and as a decorative vine.
Kiwano leaves look like cucumber, only smaller. In their sinuses are numerous yellow flowers. Like the rest of the pumpkin, they are divided into male and female. Throughout the growing season, the liana abundantly bears fruit. Observing all the rules of care, you can collect up to 200 fruits from the bush. It is possible to achieve such a result by constantly cutting off the greens. But yields can drop dramatically if at least one nod is left on the vine and ripens.
How to grow it in our country?
It is best to do this through seedlings. Before sowing in pots, seeds for a day need to be soaked in a nutrient solution. As soon as the threat of frost passes, young plants after mandatory hardening can be planted in the ground. The place for a kivano should be protected from wind and direct sunlight. Despite the fact that the plant is thermophilic, it does not tolerate the hot sun. Burns will quickly appear on the leaves, and the flowers and ovary may fall. Kiwano prefers light, loose, permeable soil. It does not tolerate drought and waterlogging. The stems of the plant need support. Therefore, it is advisable to plant them under the fence or tie up with twine, periodically twisting the stem clockwise.
Alternatively, you can spread the grid, which the vine will densely braid. Due to the rapid growth and abundant foliage, young plants should be placed at a distance of 50-80 cm. Further care for Kiwano is simple. This is regular watering (especially after each harvesting), mulching of the soil (the root system is weak, when loosening it is easy to damage), weeding and top dressing every 10-12 days, and it is necessary to alternate organic fertilizer with mineral fertilizer. The plant responds well to foliar dressing with trace elements. Side shoots should be pinched, especially with severe thickening. At the same time, stems with male flowers are removed first of all and completely. Harvested every 4-7 days with mandatory subsequent watering.
This plant has many advantages, the main of which is resistance to diseases characteristic of the pumpkin family. But there is one drawback. Kiwano is very sensitive to daily temperature changes. However, the first domestic variety, the “green dragon,” has recently appeared on sale. It was developed specifically for our latitudes. The development and growth of plants of this variety are independent of daylight hours and are more resistant to low temperatures. In addition, they begin to bear fruit after 2 months.
If there is no garden plot - not scary. A balcony or loggia is perfect for a Kiwano. How to grow and what is the peculiarity of caring for him in a room? First of all, you need to pick up a pot under the plant. Its volume can vary from 5 to 25 liters. It depends on the area of the balcony. In order for fruits to be tied up indoors on a vine, you will have to carry out pollination manually with a brush. This is done only in the morning, when the flowers are open and pollen is viable. The resulting fruits will perfectly decorate the balcony or loggia.
And what does it taste like?
Despite the fact that Kiwano is called jelly melon, it is no larger than an average orange in size. The peel of the fruit, green with marble stains, is covered with soft spikes. When ripening, the Kiwano becomes yellow. African cucumber is a very watery vegetable. Its green flesh resembles jelly in consistency. Therefore, ripe fruits have to scoop it with a spoon.
Sweet and sour Kiwano, the taste of which resembles melon, banana and cucumber at the same time, contains many useful substances and has healing properties. Its flesh is rich in carbohydrates, B vitamins, macro- and microelements, the main ones are iron, zinc, calcium, copper, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium. And yet most of all in it is ascorbic acid.
Long-term use of Kiwano, especially in the winter, helps strengthen immunity. Due to the low calorie content (only 44 calories per 100 grams), it is recommended to eat it to people who are obese. And due to its potassium content, the fetus is useful for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases. But this does not end its use in medicine. With astringent properties, the flesh of the fetus helps to heal wounds and stop bleeding.
Kiwano is also appreciated in cosmetology - as a component that is part of face and body masks. They have a pronounced firming and tonic effect on the skin. Due to the increased fiber content, the fruits stimulate intestinal motility and are recommended for the prevention of diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. With chemotherapy, regular use of juice favorably affects the condition of the hair, slowing down and reducing hair loss. The fruits of horned melons can even be eaten by diabetics.
How is it used?
How to eat Kiwano depends on the degree of ripeness of the fetus. They eat it both in green and fully ripe. Zelentsy salt and pickle in the same way as cucumbers. Kiwano will give an original taste to compotes and preserves. But most often the fruit is eaten raw. Its dense green pulp is added to desserts and salads. Refined slices are decorated with cocktails, sandwiches and main dishes. How to eat Kiwano if it is ripe? To do this, cut it in half and select all the flesh with a spoon. After that, empty halves can not be thrown away, but washed well. If you put them on spikes as legs, they will turn into the original dishes for serving snacks or in an interesting accessory for table setting.
Many are interested in how to eat Kiwano in his homeland. The most popular dish is a seafood and cheese appetizer. It is preparing simply. Seafood should be mixed with soft cheese and add kiwano. Sometimes you can do without seafood. It is enough to cut the cheese into circles and decorate them with the jelly-like pulp of an African cucumber. Kiwano juice can make a delicious and healthy cocktail. To do this, add the juice of lemon or orange to it and beat them in a mixer. Such a cocktail is served in a glass of kiwano skin.
After eating a horned melon, no serious consequences were recorded. And yet, people prone to allergic reactions, it is recommended for the first time to try nodding carefully, in small pieces.
Having figured out how to eat kiwano, it remains only to say that ripe fruits are perfectly stored at room temperature for several months, almost until spring. So, they can perfectly maintain immunity all winter.