African cucumbers are strange-looking fruit native to Africa’s central and southern regions that are exotic and unusual in appearance. It has the appearance of a green thorned fruit that matures to a bright orange/yellow color when fully matured.
Cucumis metuliferus is the scientific name for this fruit, also known as hedged gourd, horned melon, Jelly Melon, African horned cucumber, and melano in some parts of the world.
It has an unusual appearance, and the fruit can be consumed at any stage of development, but the best flavor is of the mature fruit. It tastes like a blend of banana, lime, and cucumber. It is a simple plant to grow.
Upon maturity, the African cucumber’s thick outer skin turns bright orange and is covered with small spiny projections known as horns. Within the inner flesh is a gelatinous, lime-green, or yellow substance containing many edible seeds that can be eaten raw or cooked.
Even though African cucumber is not a fruit that you are likely to find in your typical fruit basket, including it in your diet may benefit your overall health.
It can be used in various ways, but it is most commonly consumed as a fruit, as a garnish, or as juice.
How to Use African Cucumbers?
The quickest and most straightforward method of eating an African cucumber is to slice it open and spoon the pulp directly from the rind. Some people season it with a pinch of salt or sugar to make it taste better. It can be consumed raw or cooked. If you’re feeling particularly inventive, you can incorporate the pulp into smoothies or use it to decorate yogurt, granola, or an ice cream sundae, for example.
African Cucumber Varieties
The various African Cucumber Fruits are classified as botanical species rather than cultivars, making them easier to distinguish. The following are the ones that are most frequently used for food:
It is a common practice to use pickling varieties to produce pickles that have a distinct flavor profile. This selection of pickling varieties is smaller in size than the slicing varieties.
Pickling Cucumbers, on the other hand, are the only type of cucumber that will not become mushy because they start firm and crisp. Slicing cucumbers, on the other hand, are regular cucumbers used for fresh eating.
Slicing cucumbers can be used to make “quick process” bread and butter pickles, but the slices produced by these machines would not withstand a fermented pickling process.
Pickling Cucumbers also have skin that is less bitter than regular cucumbers, as well as undeveloped seeds. They can be pickled whole or sliced lengthwise into spears, depending on your preference.
They are sold unwaxed, in contrast to slicers. Skin removal is not permitted because it would prevent the pickling solution from getting into and through their flesh once it has penetrated past the skin.
In most cases, the slicing varieties are used in salad preparations and other food preparations. The plant produces many pointed oval fruits that are filled with a greenish-gold gel when fully grown.
It has a flavor that is similar to pomegranate and citrus. Garnishes and ornamental fruits are produced from this plant.
Specialty markets carry a fantastic selection of gourmet foods. When grown on a trellis, the results are the best. Kiwano and Jelly Melon are two other names for this fruit. A variety from the country of New Zealand.
Health benefits of African Cucumber
1. It Contains Essential Nutrients
African cucumber contains a wide range of vitamins and minerals, many of which are essential in their ability to impact one’s health positively.
It is primarily composed of water and is low in calories, carbs, and fat, compared to other fruits and vegetables. Protein accounts for approximately 16 percent of its calories, a high proportion compared to other fruits.
2. It Has Antioxidants
African Cucumber is not only nutritious, but it also contains several powerful antioxidants, many of which are also nutrients in their own right.
Vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, zinc, and lutein are the most important antioxidants found in African cucumbers. Together, these nutrients contribute to reducing inflammation and the prevention of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer, among others.
3. It Promotes Production of Red Blood Cells
The African cucumber is an excellent source of iron, providing approximately 13 percent of your daily requirements. It contains significant amounts of iron and vitamin C. These nutrients aid in the proper production of hemoglobin in red blood cells, which is necessary for transporting oxygen throughout the body.
4. It Regulates Blood Sugar Levels
African cucumber has a low glycemic index and is rich in nutrients that are essential for proper sugar and insulin metabolic function. According to some animal studies, it may be beneficial in the treatment of high blood sugar levels. Human studies, on the other hand, are still needed to prove this.
5. Helps To Maintain Proper Hydration
In addition to having a high water content, the African cucumber contains several electrolytes essential for maintaining fluid balance.
6. It Has The Potential To Improve Mood
African cucumber contains magnesium and zinc, two minerals closely associated with mental health and the maintenance of healthy brain function.
Each of these minerals plays a role in the production of neurotransmitters that impact mood, and they have been linked to a variety of mood-related disorders, including depression and anxiety.
7. It Promotes the Health of the Skin and Hair.
Water and vitamin C in African cucumber may aid collagen production and wound healing while also protecting from ultraviolet radiation.
Applying a paste of raw cucumber to the face as a face mask can rejuvenate the skin while also assisting in the reduction of swelling and heat from the face and neck.
When cucumber slices are placed on the eyes, they have a relaxing and soothing effect on the eyes by reducing the heat and swelling caused by excessive pressure. As a result of its application to the hair, it improves hair shine and acts as a hair conditioner.
The African cucumber originated in Africa and provides a variety of health benefits due to its high nutritional content. This fruit’s thick orange rind is covered in spikes, making it appear a little intimidating.
Nonetheless, it is as simple as slicing it open and spooning out the pulp to consume it. African cucumber is a beautiful and nutritious fruit to try if you seek a fresh way to amp up your fruit bowl.