What does a Pepino melon taste like?
It has hints of cantaloupe and honeydew with subtle notes of vanilla and cucumber. Basically, it is delicious!
The Pepino melon, or Pepino dulce, is native to South America. The name translates to ‘sweet cucumber.’
And the Pepino melon isn’t your average melon. It’s pear-sized and incredibly flavorful.
Plus, it is native to hot climates and doesn’t travel well. So, finding them at a grocery store is a real treasure!
Let’s dive into what a Pepino melon tastes like. Plus, I’ll share tips on how to use and store them. And more!
What Is Pepino Melon?
Planet Earth grows some pretty amazing fruits. And the Pepino melon is one of them. It’s hard to believe it grows in the wild.
It is a small, tropical fruit known for its sweet flavors and soft pear-like texture.
Pepino melons grow on large bushes in the tropical climates of Peru.
It’s a temperamental bush that thrives in hot climates.
Today these fantastic melons grow in other regions like Chile, Peru, Columbia, California, and Bolivia.
But, unfortunately, the Pepino melon doesn’t travel well. And this makes it difficult to ship to other parts of the world. It probably won’t be in your local store.
So, if you’re ever in an area where it grows- you must try it!
The Pepino melon is petite, oval-shaped, and fits in the palm of your hand. It is similar in size to an avocado.
(Very different from the large-and-in-charge melons like cantaloupes of watermelons.)
Also, the Pepino melon is just as pretty on the outside as the inside. It boasts a lovely yellow rind with purple stripes.
Unlike its cousin, the cantaloupe, all parts of the Pepino melon are edible. Yes, including the rind!
Plus, the Pepino melon has a host of positive health benefits. It’s high in Vitamin C, as well as ascorbic acid, niacin, thiamine, and riboflavin.
What Does Pepino Melon Taste Like?
When you cut into a Pepino melon, you’ll smell sweet notes of vanilla and honey.
The flesh inside is quite soft and has a texture similar to a pear. It’s so tender you can eat this melon like an apple.
The inside tastes like a hybrid between a cantaloupe and a honeydew melon. But the texture is much softer than its meatier melon relatives.
And as its Spanish name, “sweet cucumber,” suggests, it has a subtle cucumber flavor.
The flavor of the Pepino melon is sweet but not overpowering.
It makes a perfect, healthy, yet delicious after-dinner treat. But you can also toss it into a salad or a salsa for taco night.
Picking the Right Pepino Melon
Found this hidden treasure at a local farmers market? Here’s how to pick a perfectly ripe, ready-to-eat Pepino:
- Examine the skin. An unripe Pepino melon has green skin that turns yellow as it reaches peak ripeness. If the melon is vibrant yellow or orange skin with purple streaks, it’s ready.
- Don’t tap the rinds to check for ripeness (unlike other melons). Instead, squeeze the Pepino melon the same way you would an avocado. If it has a little bit of give, it means it’s ready to bite into.
- If it feels stiff, give it a few more days to reach peak ripeness.
How To Ripen Pepino Melons
You can allow your melons to ripen on the counter. Or in front of a window at room temperature.
However, if you want to speed up this process, there’s a quick and easy hack.
- Place your unripened Pepino melon with an apple or banana inside a brown bag. Apples and bananas release gas as they sit out, and those gasses help your melon ripen faster.
- You can also place Pepino melons in the fridge for a few days. They will take a little longer to ripen this way.
Once it’s at peak ripeness, dig in!
If the skin of a Pepino melon turns brown on the outside, don’t fret! It does not mean it is spoiled.
Cut into the skin, and observe the flesh inside. If it’s still bright yellow, it’s still good to eat.
However, if you notice brown spots or mold inside, it’s time to toss it.
How to Use Pepino Melons
In South America, Pepino melons are a fantastic after-dinner treat to satisfy your sweet tooth.
They’re light, refreshing, and offer just the right amount of sweetness.
And while they’re great on their own, there’s even better used in tasty recipes.
They add a subtle sweetness to savory recipes. And they make for some fabulous desserts.
Here are some of my favorite ways to enjoy pepino melon:
- Summer salads
- Fruit salads
- Yogurt topping
- Jellies or jams
- Sauces or compotes- for grilled meats and desserts
- Chutneys (delicious on pork chops or grilled chicken!)
- Baked into cakes, tarts, and pastries
When preparing Pepino melons for recipes, always wash them under cool water.
The rind is soft and technically edible but not delicious. Before adding Pepino melons to your meal, peel them (just like you would a pear).
Then, you can pop them into your recipe. Enjoy!
How to Store Pepino Melons
Store unripe pepino melons on the countertop at room temperature. This is ideal if you don’t plan to use them for a few days.
Once they are ripe, store whole pepino melons in the fridge. They will last for 3-4 days. If you want to store slices, cover them with plastic wrap.
If you want to freeze Pepino melons for smoothies or other frozen treats, you can!
The process is like freezing most fruit.
- Cut your Pepino melons into chunks. Remove seeds and skin.
- Place pieces in a single layer on a cookie sheet in the freezer until solid. Freezing them in a single layer prevents them from sticking together.
- Place melon chunks inside an air-tight container or a freezer bag. Return to the freezer for several months.
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