Pepino melon is a sweet and refreshing falvor which one can get in summers. It is a perfect addition if you are making a watermelon salad to enhance it’s taste. However, many people who are not familiar with this fruit often ask what does a pepino melon taste like.
It’s a jucy and exotic fruit that comes with green skin and are mostly found in southern Mexico, Central America, and South America.
What Is A Pepino Melon?
The pepino melon is an Andean crop that is Spanish in origin. A pepino melon is a fruit with a Spanish relation to the name “pepino dulce,” meaning sweet cucumber. The pepino fruit is also called the tree melon or pear melon.
However, this fruit looks nothing like a pear or a cucumber as the pepino is bulbous and oval shaped. An average pepino melon maxes out at half a pound when fully ripened.
The size of a typical pepino melon is two to six inches in length with a rounded side. The coloration of the skin marks the pepino melon as distinct. Look for a creamy yellow skin striped with purple streaks.
That is how you know you have a ripening pepino melon. If the pepino melon stripes turn from purple to brown, it is fully ripe and perfectly suitable for eating.
However, most of the time, we will see them with brown stripes and assume this fruit is rotting. That’s not the case, though, and you will get the best flavor profile of the pepino melon when you let the longitudinal stripes turn brown.
When you cut a pepino melon in half or in quarters for serving, as is suggested, the internal flesh is white or pale yellow, states the American Indian Health and Diet Project.
What Does A Pepino Melon Taste Like?
The seed and plant producer, Melissa’s, reports that pepino melons taste slightly of honey and vanilla. The melon is a combination of tart honeydew and citrusy cantaloupe.
Cantaloupe is a sugary sweet fruit with a slight citrus component. The color of the flesh is orange, compared to that of the honeydew, which is not as sugary and more of a lime flavor to match the green tone.
This would mean the pepino melon has the flavor of citric acid fruit for a tart bite, but the sweet undertones of honey and baking vanilla.
However, the eHow authors suggest you can eat pepino melon even when it is still green and before it is dripping with sugars from being ripened.
The fruit has a thinner skin when it is green and this provides a more tender texture to the flesh. It feels more like a vegetable when chopping and cooking the unripened green pepino.
What Texture Do Pepino Melons Have?
A pepino melon has flesh with the texture of a pear or cucumber. The result is a juicy fruit that is filled with watery sugars. The firmness helps when cutting and biting into the fruit.
Types Of Pepino Melon
There are several variations of pepino melons. Garden Frontier states there are the following varieties of pepino melons:
- El Camino
Where Do Pepino Melons Come From?
Pepino melons are an ancient fruit species that has been consumed by native cultures all over the planet.
The fruit is indigenous to South America, where pre-Columbian Incas used pepino melons for food, and the hardened rind for amulets, vessels, and other ornamental items that have been recovered from archaeological sites.
The fruit is native to the Andes region, but the Spanish conquistadors spread the seeds of the pepino far and wide.
The plant and its fruit was enjoyed by Peru, northern Chile, Ecuador, and Bolivia before the 18th century, at which time the melon was eaten by Europeans thanks to the Spaniards.
Today, the pepino melon is grown worldwide and is a major crop in the US by way of Florida and California, as well as in New Zealand and Japan. Additionally, the pepino melon is cultivated in Turkey.
As for the source of this fruit, Plantura Magazine explains that the pepino melon is part of the nightshade family. The nightshade plants include tomatoes, eggplants, and chili peppers.
In fact, the pepino melon looks more like a purple eggplant or aubergine when it is ripe. Yet the pepino is not spicy-hot or even red like a tomato, which is full of citric and malic acids.
Are Pepino Melons Healthy?
Yes, pepino melons are considered healthy. In fact, these fruits are even permitted for patients who are suffering from diabetes.
According to Gazi University and the Department of Pharmacognosy in Turkey, pepino melon is a fruit that can be consumed whole.
It is recommended for diabetics thanks to its low sugar profile and high level of antioxidants.
There is also naturally a lot of dietary fiber in a pepino melon, which adds to the colon cleansing properties of the food.
This fruit is the exception to the rule for diabetics who generally must avoid sugary fruits. Therefore, you can consider pepino fruits to be healthy when consumed in a normal manner.
RELATED: Can Watermelon Go Bad?
How Do You Eat Pepinos?
A pepino melon is best served ripe and cool. Put the unsliced or peeled fruit into the refrigerator before consumption.
This will allow the fruit to come to a chilled temperature without freezing and bursting the cell walls. When ready to eat a pepino melon, you can do one of two things. Start by slicing all of the skin off of the melon or slice it into two equal parts.
Are Pepino Melons Good For You?
Yes, as a healthy food source, this type of melon is good for you.
How Can I Store Pepino Melons
Pepino melons should be picked or purchased when ripe or ready to ripen as you can ripen these fruits in your kitchen.
When you buy a ripe pepino melon, store it for one to three days in the refrigerator to slow down the ripening process. You can also leave the unripe or ripe melon on your counter at room temperature.
But be weary of fruit flies that might be attracted to this fruit. If gnats or fruit flies start feasting on the melon before you do, it will become rotten.
What do you do to store a cut pepino melon? The Washington Post states you need to wrap a sliced pepino melon using plastic wrap. Cover the cut side well and remove any air bubbles. Store in the refrigerator for up to three days.
Can You Freeze Pepino Melons?
Yes and no. If you want to freeze pepino melons, cut the fruit into chunks and remove all skin and seeds. The fruit does not need to be preserved in any way to freeze it.
Simply spread a single layer of fruit chunks, each averaging an inch in diameter, on a cookie sheet to freeze for one hour. Then, once the fruit has started to freeze, add it to a freezer bag, but do not overstuff.
How To Tell If A Pepino Melon Is Bad?
If you have a pepino melon that has turned brown on the outside, does this mean it is rotten? No and it is perfectly ripe to eat at this time.
However, if the flesh starts to get soft spots or has moldy areas, this is an indicator of fruit fly infestation and an overly ripened melon. Toss it and avoid using the seeds of this melon for planting.
How Can I Pick A Pepino Melon In A Grocery Store?
When you are at the grocery store or farmer’s market and you want to buy a pepino melon, there is an easy way to pick the perfect one.
Hold the melon in your hand. It should be larger than two inches but smaller than six inches. The melon should be firm and heavy, weighing about half a pound at most.
This indicates the fruit is full of sugary juice and ready to be consumed. The outside of the skin will be streaked with purple across a fading cream or yellow colored skin.
If the fruit is starting to turn brown, you will be treated with a ready-to-eat pepino melon on the day of purchasing it.
How To Ripen A Pepino Melon?
The Washington Post explains that you can easily ripen pepinos at home. These round starchy fruits can ripen at room temperature.
To ripen a pepino melon, place it in a brown bag with a banana or apple. The gas from that second fruit will speed up the process and help you get into your juicy pepino melon faster.
Stick the ripe pepino melon in the refrigerator and store for up to three days.
How To Open A Pepino Melon?
To get into the ripe pepino melon you have just ripened on your countertop, all you need is a knife. First, wash the outside of the melon well using warm water.
Avoid soap that can get into the flesh. Now, dry the fruit and place it on a cutting board.
Try to rest the fruit on the flattest side to make it easier to cut. Next, cut the fruit using a sharp butcher knife.
This will allow you to protect yourself from being nicked by the blade in case it slips on the skin of the melon, which is a possibility.
Slice the melon in half in equal parts. Remove any of the soft seeds as they are not edible. Lay the melon halves flesh side down on a cutting board.
Cut each half into quarters or even thinner segments, depending on your preference for serving the melon. Use a paring knife to remove the skin from the outside of each segment of fruit.
The skin is not edible. Eat the melon alone or sprinkle it with salt or seasonings.
Can You Grow Pepino Melon
If you live in a temperate climate in Florida or California, you can grow pepino melons in your own backyard. However, these are a tropical fruit hailing from South America.
Therefore, you need to have the same climate conditions as they do in South America, such as Chile, before you can grow pepino melons successfully.
Pepino Melon Versus Acorn Squash
In this contest of pepino melon versus acorn squash, these two foods go head to head. The differences between the melon and the squash start with one being a fruit and the other being a vegetable.
However, both are very similar in appearance and you might accidentally purchase the acorn squash thinking you have a pepino melon.
They are both the same round piece of produce with creamy yellow skin and green and purple markings. They both have seeds on the inside that are soft and not quite ready to be roasted like pumpkin seeds.
Yet the flesh of the pepino is sugary and sweet and full of juice, unlike the hardened flesh of an acorn squash that has to be roasted for half an hour to release its moisture.
How Do You Cook Pepino Melon?
Ideally, you would serve pepino melon fresh and raw, and not cooked. However, if you do want to cook a pepino melon, look for an unripe one.
Recipe Tips explain that you can serve a pepino melon that is not ripe in a baking dish like a gourd or squash.
Slice it in half before baking, rub with some oil and rest on the inside facing down on the dish. After 30 minutes, the squash is soft and caramelized.
How To Make Pepino Melon?
Serve a pepino melon pureed in a beverage or ice sorbet. You can also eat pepino melon as-is, or cook it in a dish if it is not ripe, similar to the way you treat a plantain.
A 100-gram serving of pepino melon, which is a typical serving size, is only 80 calories. The fruit has no protein, fat, sodium, or cholesterol. There is 7.3 percent of your daily carbohydrates in a serving size of a pepino melon at 22 grams of carbs.
Additionally, a serving of pepino provides 20 percent (5 grams) of your daily dietary fiber. This makes pepino melon a low-fat and high-fiber food choice.
Quick Table: 3 Recipes Using Pepino Melon
|Calories Per Serving
|Pepino Melon Salad
|Pepino Melon Smoothie
|All The ‘Melon Ceviche
A Pepino Melon Salad gives your typical fruit salad an upgrade. All you need is 10 minutes to make this quick and healthy tossed fruit salad.
Leaving grapes whole keeps things simple. It is also an attractive fruit salad that will be perfect to present at a potluck or picnic.
Serve alongside a whipped cream fruit dip to make this an even more luxurious side dish or dessert. You can make the Pepino Melon Salad a day or two ahead of time and store it in the fridge.
A suggestion, if you do this, is to use citric acid powder or lime or lemon juice squeezed over the salad.
This will prevent browning and help preserve the fruit flavors for longer, which is ideal if you are working with ripe melon and fruit. The tart juice or powder will also give the fruit salad a bit more zing!
Calories Per Serving: 25
Preparation Time: 10 min
A Pepino Melon Smoothie incorporates dairy milk and ice cubes to create a dreamy, creamy concoction. If you want something to keep you cool and refreshed this summer, opt for this South American specialty using dragon fruit.
A smoothie using pepino melon offers a unique flavor profile you won’t find anywhere else.
Surprise someone you love with a tall Dragon fruit and Pepino Melon Smoothie and see what they think it is they are eating.
This makes for a wonderful breakfast or on-the-go instant meal, especially if you are working out and a busy person trying to eat healthily.
Calories Per Serving: 30
Preparation Time: 15 min
All the ‘melon Ceviche works wonders with the use of melon as a substitute for fish. Rather than using raw fish for a ceviche, which is a Spanish dish from Peru, use melon for a vegan version.
Sprinkle on the acidic juices and let the melon come together with the rest of the veg for an instant meal. Serve this for lunch or brunch to your favorite vegan pals.
This version of ceviche also uses watermelon. When you add citric acid to watermelon, the fr turns into a meaty-looking substitute for tuna fish.
As a result, you can literally make a vegan ceviche that actually looks like there is meat involved.
This melon ceviche is a home run for people who love jackfruit and other fruit substitutes used to mock meats, poultry, and fish.
Plus, thanks to the low calories and no fats, the use of pepino melon makes for a low-fat alternative to a traditional fishy ceviche.
Calories Per Serving: 44
Preparation Time: 20 min
Frequently Asked Questions
What Makes Pepino So Special?
People in South America find that the pepino melon is part of their culture and food identity. As immigrants move and travel, they bring these cultural ingredients with them.
Therefore, eating a pepino melon is like eating something exotic and from another world.
Should I Eat Pepino After Midnight?
There is a cultural norm in Mexican culture that states you should not eat watermelon after midnight. But what about the pepino? I would say no to that either.
It has to do with your digestion and the watery sugars in a pepino. This is not the right food for a midnight snack, as it will get your digestive tract up and running too early.
Pepino Melon Pinterest
Here is a Pinterest Pin on pepino melons that covers the similarities between this fruit with vegetables. It is from the Kitchen and discusses what is the deal with pepino melons.
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