A horned melon is not your typical looking fruit. Also called a kiwano melon, African horned cucumber, jelly melon, hedged gourde, melano and blowfish fruit, the horned melon is native to Southern Africa and grows mainly in dry semi-arid places such as the Kalahari Desert. This fruit was later introduced to other areas of Africa, Australia, New Zealand more recently, the US. The unusual appearance steers people away from this tasty fruit. But its flavor is great. The jelly-like interior has a mild flavor: a cross between a cucumber, zucchini, kiwi and passion fruit. As it ripens, it sweetens up a bit more and can have a more of a banana-like flavor. A bright orange rind indicates it’s ripe. The jelly and seeds are completely edible. While this fruit can be consumed as is or on salads, it can also be a great addition to a cocktail. And as my researched confirmed, I’m not the first to think so. I blended the jelly and seeds to make my horned melon Tom Collins. I’m pleased with the results. If you liked my light and refreshing cucumber-tequila cooler that I posted last summer, chances are you will like this fun summer cocktail as well.
A classic Tom Collins is itself a fantastic drink. Made with gin, lemon juice, sugar, and carbonated water, it is bright and easily drinkable. Beware of the pre-mixed Tom Collins, however, that has sadly become common and that ruins this classic cocktail. In my horned melon Tom Collins, I add lots of lemon, agave instead of sugar, and sparkling lemon soda to help bring out the refreshing cucumber essence of the horned melon. I also add fresh mint to enhance the cooler style I wanted this cocktail to embody. The result is tasty. The blending of the horned melon seeds requires a bit more work than my typical drink, but in the end it’s worth it if you are looking for something off the beaten path. And if it helps tip the balance, note that horned melons are loaded with natural vitamin E and are supposed to be pretty good for your health. Cheers!
Horned Melon Tom Collins
- 1/2 Horned melon, seeds and jelly
- 5 mint leaves
- 3 teaspoons agave
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 2 ounces gin
- 3 ounces sparkling lemon soda
- Step 1 Place the Horned melon seeds and jelly into a kitchen blender and blend on low for 40 seconds. Strain into a cocktail shaker.
- Step 2 Add the mint leaves and agave and using a muddler, muddle the mixture to break up the into leaves.
- Step 3 Add the lemon juice, gin and a handful of ice. Shake vigorously for about 20 seconds.
- Step 4 Strain the mixture into a lowball class filled with ice. Top with the sparkling lemon soda.