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Articles - Gourmet Pleasures:

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Kiwano – bizarre-looking and exotic with big health benefits

Outside kiwanos are orange-yellow and thorny, inside they have bright green flesh that looks slightly like green jelly. The bizarre kiwano is a climbing plant that comes originally from Africa south of the Sahara. Now they are cultivated in Portugal, Kenya, New Zealand, Italy and Israel.

A kiwano is 90 percent water; it's low in calories and high in fibre. It also contains important minerals such as potassium and magnesium and vitamins B and C. Kiwanos taste refreshingly sour with a hint of cucumber. In Italy kiwanos are called lemonbanas, a word made by blending lemons and banana. In fact the kiwano (Cucumis metuliferus) belongs to the squash family and is closely related to melons and cucumbers. The oval fruit is around 10 cm long and 5 cm in diameter. It has thorns that resemble small horns, which is why it is sometimes called "horned melon" or "horned cucumber".

Buying and using kiwanos

Wash kiwanos thoroughly before cutting into them. You can eat it as you would a kiwi – cut it in half and spoon out the flesh. The seeds are edible too. If you'd prefer, you can make the extra effort of pressing the flesh through a sieve to remove the seeds. Kiwano skin isn't edible, but try using it as a decorative container for a fruit salad or even a drink.

In fruit salads kiwanos combine well with apples, bananas, pineapple and nuts. Their colour and shape make them an eye-catching addition to icecream cups, cocktails and buffets. Other desserts, smoothies and even savoury dishes with fish and seafood gain from the unusual flavour. You can buy kiwanos year-round. Choose ripe, undamaged orange-yellow fruit with firm spikes. The fruit will keep for several days at room temperature.

Source: Heike Kreutz, www.aid.de