Kiwano 101: A beginner’s guide to one of the world’s most intriguing fruits

kiwano fruit

Kiwano is my passion. Living, breathing, dreaming about (and in season, eating) our Kiwano fruit every day, I constantly need to remind myself that some people may never have seen, let alone eaten one of these babies.

These people are missing out! The Kiwano is no banana. As consumer tastes evolve towards exotics and a greater variety, many of the wholesale and retail customers I talk to are wanting to stock something a little different. Kiwano fruit sits alongside pomegranates, passionfruit, kiwifruit and other sub-tropical fruits. It’s not a commodity line and with only a comparatively small volume in production, it keeps it a little special.

It’s certainly an eye catcher. With its golden skin and covered in small horns, it makes a great conversation piece for a fruit bowl and looks amazing on display in store.

Native to Africa, Kiwano are also known as a horned melon or jelly melon – so you may have heard of it under those names. We’ve even heard of them being called dragon’s eggs! Commercially the fruit is now predominantly grown in the United States and New Zealand.

The Kiwano is an annual vine in the melon family (growing watermelons was how we came across this amazing fruit originally). Here in New Zealand we harvest during our summer time. Exact timing of the harvest is somewhat dependent on the weather but is usually from early in January to late April/May, with the fruit shipped to the US by sea and air freight and generally available until June.

How do you eat Kiwano?
Kiwano has a unique flavour and are full of goodness.

Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned campaigner read our top 10 need-to-knows about what some call “the world’s weirdest fruit” – and we just call delicious.

  1. "What does a Kiwano taste like?" is definitely our number one query! It’s really unique, subtle, refreshingly fruity flavour which is often described as a mix of banana, passionfruit and lime.
  2. Inside its golden-skinned, spiky interior is a vibrant green juicy pulp, with very fine seeds encased in small jelly sacks.
  3. The refreshing Kiwano fruit is not overly sweet, which makes it ideal for juices and smoothies. It has a low natural sugar content in comparison to other fruits, making it a great produce choice for those on low carbohydrate diets. Delicious eaten as is, the pulp’s flavour can be enhanced with a sprinkle of sea salt, chili or sugar.
  4. It is incredibly versatile flavour and can be used in sweet and savoury dishes. Kiwano are used as an ingredient in drinks and cocktails, scooped over ice cream and yogurt, added to salsas, salads, smoothies, or used to make dressings and sauces for meat and seafood (Our website has delicious Kiwano recipes or our Instagram feed is a great place to see how others are using this unique fruit).
  5. To eat a Kiwano fruit, simply slice in half, lengthways or into wedges or slices. You can scoop out the pulp with a spoon. A lot of pulp comes from one Kiwano!
  6. You can and should eat the seeds! The green seeded pulp is like passionfruit pulp – you can strain out the juice, but the seeds are slim and create an interesting texture.
  7. Kiwano don’t like the cold and should be stored at room temperature or above 18 degrees celcius (64F). Do not refrigerate!
  8. A ripe Kiwano will have vibrant orange skin, and give to slight pressure. Your Kiwano is not ripe if the skin is green.
  9. Kiwano pack a nutritional punch. Kiwano are a source of zinc, calcium and magnesium – three of the most important minerals essential for good health. Magnesium aids in the absorption of calcium while zinc actively supports the body’s immune system. The Kiwano is also a good source of beta carotene which converts in the body to vitamin A – needed for healthy skin, eye health and our immune system.
  10. Kiwano have an exceptional shelf life and should remain at their best for around 2 months from harvest date. Enzed Exotics has developed specific storehouse packing technology to enhance the longevity of our Kiwano. We believe the longevity of our fruit is also naturally enhanced by the minerals from our seaside growing environment.

So next time you see one of these golden hued beauties in store, give it a try! I hope you'll agree, it really is "what's on the inside that counts."

For those of you who have you tried a Kiwano, what did you think? We’d love to know!

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