With its spiky, orange exterior and seedy, green flesh, the African horned cucumber may look a bit otherwordly to those unfamiliar with it. Its appearance is so striking, it once moonlighted in an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as a “Golana melon” from the planet of Golana. On Earth, however, the fruit grows in the wild across southern Africa. It’s also cultivated in Malawi, Sierra Leone, Kenya, and elsewhere around the world.
The immature fruit tastes a bit like a standard cucumber and can be pickled. Things get more interesting once it’s ripe: By various accounts, the gelatinous interior has notes of melon, banana, kiwi, and citrus. You can enjoy the fruit raw, roasted, sun-dried, or made into juice.
Forage with caution: Wild versions sometimes contain bitter, toxic compounds. Commercially cultivated versions, however, are not bitter and do not contain this toxin.
Need to Know
The African horned cucumber is widely grown for international markets. You may find it outside Africa under the name “kiwano” (trademarked by growers in New Zealand) or “melano” (trademarked by growers in Israel).