Horned Melon Tom Collins
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 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 research 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 added 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!